Benefits of Michigan Cherries + Delicious Recipes
Since the first commercial cherry orchard was planted in the late 1800s, Michigan’s cherry growing quickly grew popular. Today, Michigan is the top producer of tart cherries and the fourth largest producer of sweet cherries in the United States. An average tree carries a remarkable 7,000 cherries and can be harvested in just seven seconds – but that’s not the only impressive quality.
Tart cherries, more so than sweet cherries, are known for providing a slew of health benefits. Boasting an impressive list of antioxidants, cherries can aid in inflammatory diseases such as heart disease and arthritis. But let’s explore some of the lesser-known health benefits.
Sleep. Studies suggest tart and sweet cherries may help with both the quantity and quality of sleep with immediate effects – within three days. Reasons for improved sleep are thought to be related to improved mood and decreased anxiety. Another study found that tart cherries may increase melatonin, a critical hormone that regulates sleep.
Cognitive function. Research suggests cherries could “juice up” the brain. Anthocyanins are not only responsible for giving cherries their dark-red color, but also supplies the fruit with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers. This compound, along with other antioxidants in the fruit, shows promise in delivering short- and long-term benefits in age-related cognitive decline. Anthocyanins have a positive role in the pathways involved in neurodegeneration, or the loss of function of the nervous system.
Recovery after exercise. Tart cherries have shown promise in helping athletes recover after strenuous activity. The reasons can be attributed to the recovery of muscle function, reduced muscle loss and less inflammation. Athletes can enjoy a cup of tart cherry juice within 30 minutes after exercise along with a post-workout snack.
Convinced about the nutritious power of this ruby-red fruit? Cherries are versatile and easy to incorporate in a variety of dishes – add them to anything from barbecue sauce to overnight oats. Moreover, cherries go great with chocolate, almonds, goat cheese, lemon and thyme – all ingredients in the following recipes.
- 1 cup cherries, halved and pitted
- 4 cups spring lettuce mix
- 1/3 cup almonds, slivered or chopped
- 4 oz goat cheese
Cherry and Goat Cheese Salad with Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette – Serves 4
Combine all ingredients with 1-2 Tbsp of dressing for each serving.
- 2 lemons, 1 juiced, one chopped
- 8-10 sprigs of thyme leaves, stem removed)
- 2 tsp honey
- ½ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the salad dressing
1. Using a knife, cut the peel off one lemon, then chop the flesh of the lemon finely.
2. Add the lemon, along with juice of the other lemon and the other ingredients to a mason jar or other sealable container. Shake up and serve with the salad.
- 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
- ½ cup oat milk or other desired milk
- 1/8 cup Greek yogurt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup fresh cherries, pitted and quartered
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 Tbsp almond butter
- 2 tsp chia seeds
Overnight Cherry and Cinnamon Oats - Serves 1
1. Combine and stir all ingredients except almond or peanut butter.
2. Add almond and peanut butter and gently stir to where it is not fully incorporated.
3. Leave overnight in refrigerator and enjoy!
- 2 cups oat milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cashew butter
- 1 cup whole cherries, pitted and chopped
- 4 oz vegan dark chocolate, finely chopped.
Michigan Cherry and Chocolate Vegan Ice Cream Recipe
1. In a high-speed blender, combine oat milk, cashew butter and sugar.
2. Place contents in a gallon-sized zip bag and place in the freezer laying flat. Allow to freeze for 4 hours or overnight.
3. Take bag out of the freezer and allow to soften at room temperature for 15 minutes. Place bag contents in blender, blend to smooth using the tamper if needed.
4. On low blender setting, gently incorporate the cherries and chocolate.
5. Place in a freezer-safe container and scoop to serve. This will keep up to a month in the freezer.