The beginning of June is always marked with bright bursts of color of the local season. Baby vegetables, salad greens, and berries are all hitting a stride. Eating colorfully is always easiest in the summer months!
My favorite part of living in a warmer region is the bounty of seasonal fruits and vegetables (let me tell you the DC farmers’ markets outshine those in upstate New York). Eating seasonally helps the local community and also allows you to eat produce at its nutritional and flavor peak. Not only are in-season fruits and vegetables more delicious, they also help quench your body’s seasonal needs: summer produce (berries, watermelon, cucumber, etc.) is full of water to help hydrate and cool your body as the temperature climbs.
Growing up, summer was always greeted with a bowl of bright red cherries on the dining table—these would carry over to the living room, packed with a lunch, or a handful on the way out the door. It’s safe to assume that this post is dedicated to the almighty cherry!
Cherry season usually spans from late May through July. This is always dependent on when cherry flowers bloom, and this year (especially in California) blooming happened quite late and pushed back peak harvest season. Hang tight, folks!
These tasty sweet gems are full of incredible nutrients. Cherries are a great source of anthocyanins, a class of compounds that give them their bright red color and also possess antioxidant properties. These compounds also have been found to slow down glucose production from complex carbohydrates, lending themselves to a healthy glucose regulation.
Cherries are alkaline in nature, meaning that they can come in handy when your gut is a little too acidic (which often manifests itself as indigestion). Although, it should be noted that symptoms of indigestion could also be caused by low stomach acid. Be sure to check-in with your doctor to understand the cause of your tummy aches before you take any action! A study also showed that the consumption of cherries reduced exercise-induced muscle pain and soreness. Cheers to anti-inflammatory properties!
Despite their sweetness, cherries rank low on the glycemic index, meaning that there’s no need to worry about spiking your blood sugar levels. Similarly, cherries have a relatively low caloric content (less than 100 calories for 1 cup of cherries, which is about equal to 20 cherries).
Cherries also provide a natural way to help with some sleepless nights. Another study showed that eating cherries or drinking a glass of tart cherry juice before bed increased average sleep time by around 1.5 hours.
Don’t forget to get your cherries while they’re in season! But don’t fret, their nutritional and healing properties still apply to their frozen, dried, and juiced forms (preservative-free, of course)!
Although I prefer to eat my fresh cherries by the handful, this classic Clafoutis recipe is one that I adore. I also enjoy tossing dried cherries on top of any salad as a perfect addition of tartness and sweetness! And finally, for when the weather inevitably reaches a temperature I was not blessed to withstand, a classic cherry lemonade!
PS: Here’s an easy way to pit your cherries! You can thank me later :)