This week, I welcome Brianna Shales of Stemilt Growers. Stemilt Growers is known for their apples, pears and, during the summer months, their delicious cherries. I’ve enjoyed these tasty gems and they are really extraordinary! Brianna has agreed to share some helpful ways to enjoy sweet cherries during the season with us. Enjoy, and be sure to pick some up at your supermarket this week!
Summer is always a favorite in the produce aisle thanks to the abundance of fresh and in season fruits and veggies. I work for Stemilt Growers, a leading, family-owned fruit company based in Wenatchee, WA. Here, summer means cherry season and that always equals a busy and exciting time. It takes a lot of effort to harvest, pack, and deliver delicate cherries to grocery stores for you to enjoy, but it’s a labor of love that we look forward to every year.
When I started at Stemilt five years ago, I was a bit naive when it came to cherries. I knew from my childhood that they tasted great right out of the bowl (they were always featured that way at our family’s 4th of July potlucks), but I never thought beyond the bowl for other ways to enjoy sweet cherries. My how that has changed! I now think of different ways to enjoy cherries daily when they are in season and look forward to experimenting with cherries at home. Luckily, I have two willing participants–my husband who grew up around cherry orchards and my toddler, who upon tasting his first cherry, promptly starting signing for “more.”
Without further ado, I present to you my list of 5 ways for enjoying sweet cherries this summer. Some are personal favorites, while others go with tips or interesting health facts about cherries. All end with a great result–enjoying one of the best gifts Mother Nature delivers each summer–cherries!
- To Start the Day: Add a cup of pitted and sliced fresh Stemilt cherries to your morning cereal or oatmeal. The sweet flavor of cherries takes the bland out of a hearty, whole grain breakfast, while at the same time giving you fiber and antioxidant boost.
- In a Green Smoothie: My latest food obsession is making green smoothies. Busy mornings led me into the horrible habit of not eating breakfast, and we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. To combat this and get extra servings of fruits and veggies, I started making smoothies for the whole family to enjoy. But not just any smoothie–a green smoothie! For parents of picky eaters, green smoothies are a great way to “hide” the good stuff we all want our kids to eat. Blend up your choice of fruits, greens, and liquid, and you have a perfect breakfast to sip on the go. My favorite green smoothie blend right now combines cherries, blueberries, banana, strawberries, and kale with ice, almond milk, and plain yogurt/kefir. It’s so good!
- As a Healthy Snack: To me, one of the best things about sweet cherries is that they are the perfect out-of-hand snack to satisfy a sweet craving. One of my go-to snacks during the summer is a handful of sweet cherries and raw almonds. The two foods go great together, are incredibly filling, and fuel the body with fiber, protein, and much more.
- In a Delicious Dessert: I couldn’t talk about the uses for cherries without mentioning dessert. There are so many delicious summertime desserts that feature cherries–from classic pies to unique versions of upside-down cake. Browse these cherry recipes to find a dessert that appeals to you.
- To Aid in a Good Night’s Sleep: Cherries are one of the few natural sources of melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain that helps regulate the body’s internal clock. Research suggests that consuming melatonin 30 minutes before going to bed can help improve sleep, especially when altering a schedule through shift work or traveling. Consider eating cherries before bed during your next business trip to help adjust to the new time zone and sleep soundly.