Over the past month I have run a marathon, started doing CrossFit about 4 times/week, run a 1/2 marathon and started triathlon training. Whew. My muscles are getting stronger, and I feel good. That is, in part, due to the amazing work of a delicious tart treat. Cherries! These red jewels are probably best known for flavoring a popular cola beverage. However, this fruit plays a much more beneficial role in our health. Tart cherries have special powers
My knowledge of cherries reducing inflammation actually began in middle school when, after a knee injury, my best friend’s dad made me eat dried cherries. Well ahead of most research, he knew of the potent anti-inflammatory properties of tart cherries. That advice has stuck with me through the years. I know it works. I feel it.
And now, there is fantastic research (continuing to grow) truly showing the benefits of tart cherries. Specifically, they contain one of the highest amounts of antioxidants of any food which reduce inflammation in many different ways. Tart cherries have been shown to reduce the risk of gout and arthritis, improve cardiovascular health and (my favorite) supports muscle recovery in athletes!!
Tart cherry juice is a fantastic way to ensure getting enough of the anti-inflammatory properties. You may also choose to eat them dried or fresh. My favorite post workout snack is a smoothie made with frozen tart cherries, vanilla whey protein powder, almond milk and a half of a banana.
Or maybe you want to include them in your everyday diet. How about a breakfast muffin?? I made these muffins tonight, and they are fantastic. I was in a bit of a dessert mood so I smeared some leftover cream cheese frosting on the top… holy cow… so good! Minus the frosting they are a great whole grain way to start the day
Cherry Almond Muffins- by Kristen O’Connor
1 1/2 C white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C coconut sugar
3/4 C dried tart cherries
3/4 C sliced almonds, toasted (reserve a couple tablespoons for topping)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Either spray muffin tin with non-stick spray or line with muffin liners. Whisk wet ingredients together. Stir in dry ingredients. Fold in cherries and almonds. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. Sprinkle remaining almonds on top of each muffin. Bake for 12 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Enjoy! Next time I’m going to try fresh or frozen cherries to add just a touch more moisture (or maybe a little honey). So yummy!
per muffin: 169 calories, 5g fat, 0g sat. fat, 0g trans fat, 18mg chol, 212mg sodium, 29g carbs, 3g fiber, 15g sugar, 5g protein