Cooking with Cherries: Get flavor and health benefits with fresh summer recipes

DSCF4751 (2)Michelle White eats tart cherries in one form or another 365 days a year.

White is the founder of Michelle’s Miracle, a Leland-based company that makes tart cherry supplements and concentrates, distributed under the Cherry Works™ brand. She said incorporating cherries into her daily routine made a big difference in her own health.

Despite starting the company 14 years ago, White said she didn’t become diligent about using tart cherry concentrate until she “hit a wall” four years ago. Back pain was plaguing her and she decided to get serious about using her own products daily. She said a combination of her own tart cherry concentrate, stretching, and massage have made her back problems a thing of the past and she’s noticed other health benefit as well, including improved sleep.

“I just feel better overall,” she said.

White recently gave a cooking demonstration at the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, which continues through Saturday. The Grand Traverse region is responsible for producing a large portion of the tart cherries in the United States, which have been studied for a range of health benefits.

In particular, White is a believer in the antioxidant properties of tart cherries. They contain large quantities of anthocyanins, flavonoid compounds that give them their tart taste and intense red coloring. Melatonin, a natural hormone that regulates sleep, is also found in tart cherries.

Best of all? The taste of cherries makes them an easy way to improve your health, White said. She puts her concentrate on oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, and even the occasional bowl of ice cream, as well as using dried cherries in her cooking.

“You can literally put cherries in just about anything,” White said.

Try these recipes courtesy of White and start reaping your own tart cherry health benefits while enjoying a lovely summer meal, full of fresh Michigan ingredients. Find more of her recipes here.

DSCF4753 (2)Tart Cherry Kale Salad

1 bunch kale
½ cup dried cherries
1 avocado (optional)
2 tablespoons red onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
½ cup Feta cheese (optional)

Combine ingredients and serve with:

Tart Cherry Dressing

½ tablespoon Cherry Works™ Wellness Tart Cherry Concentrate
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon honey
½ tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, as desired

Blend all ingredients together, shake, and pour over your salad.

Cherry & Molasses Lake Michigan Salmon

½ cup Cherry Works™ Wellness Tart Cherry Concentrate
¼ cup olive oil
1/3 cup molasses
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons lemon peel, minced
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets

Combine the oil, molasses, garlic and lemon peel; set aside half of the mixture for serving. Before starting the grill, coat grill rack/pan with nonstick cooking spray. Grill salmon uncovered over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Baste frequently with the molasses mixture. Serve with reserved sauce.

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