When certain fruits or vegetable come into season, underneath all of the welcome back party feelings, a part of me starts to panic. It’s a bit like when you start worrying about going home on the first day of your vacation. What if I don’t get the chance to take full advantage of it before it leaves us again for another year?!
(A cherry pitter, although niche, is indispensable for the short cherry-filled weeks. They also work for pitting most olives.)
The summer is full of this strange, delicious seasonal produce anxiety. I find the only way to remedy it is to properly roll around in the local bounty. Eat lots of it as is, while you transform the rest into culinary creations to be appreciated both later that day and later that month, when it has abruptly stopped showing up to the farmers markets.
I rolled around in bing cherries this week. There is rogue cherry splatter staining every single corner of my kitchen (gotta love a fruit that leaves its personal signature!) That deep, blood-red colour means that they are loaded with anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that packs a mean anti-cancer punch. Cherries also lower inflammation, a powerful factor in cancer development (among other diseases). Also, they’re cherries. It’s not like remembering to throw some kohlrabi into your basket the next time you’re at the farmers market, you’re probably eating them right now anyway. And possibly wearing some as earrings.
I have three simple and nutritious recipes this week, to make the most of cherry season, and in turn, alleviate some seasonal fruit anxiety:
All you need is fresh, ripe cherries, lemon juice and chia seeds. That’s it! No sugar or sweetener (the cherries should be at their sweetest), no cooking, no pectin. It is thickened using chia seeds, which do a great job of this and also contain, protein, iron and lots of fibre. Enjoy it as you would any jam (from a spoon with almond butter….).
Dried Cherry Cereal:
(Chia, hemp, buckwheat)
This is a summery take on the cereal that has become popular in the last few years and costs a fortune to buy at the grocery store. I make it (combine it?) myself (suddenly affordable), and dry the fruit seasonally to add to the simple base of buckwheat, chia seeds and hemp hearts. Lots of protein, healthy fats, magnesium, and that doesn’t even include the cherry’s health stats. It is crunchy, allergen-free, and the perfect topping to a bowl of fresh fruit with a little fresh nut or seed milk.
Ground vanilla bean -adding the truest vanilla flavour without the alcohol. Friends with cherries too. (vanilla bean would be a good option, except it is sticky and would clump together. It’s better in a liquid or blended setting)
Hold onto your hats, this is a wild one! Cherry water is literally cherries, blended into your water. It is not a smoothie, because there is far more water than fruit. It still tastes like water, but with a cherry-flavoured edge. This is a great concept for staying hydrated when water is way too boring, or if treatment has left it tasting metallic to you. Try it with any seasonal fruit or herb (peaches, strawberries, mint, lemon balm, citrus zest). Hydration is so important when you have cancer (for anyone, really, especially in the summer), and sometimes a little creativity can help out in that department.
All of these recipes will work with almost any fruit substitution. If pineapples grow up the street from you (lucky!), embrace that pineapple. If you live in my climate, once blueberries take over for cherries, buy up those blueberries -plums and apricots too. When it’s time for crisp, apples, juicy pears, sweaters and mitts, play around with warmer spices such as cinnamon and ginger too. We don’t have to go there just yet, but it’s nice to be prepared.
- 2 c Cherries, pitted
- 1 Tbsp Lemon juice (& some zest)
- ⅛ tsp Vanilla Bean powder (vanilla pods, ground whole, available at specialty stores)
- 1½ tsp Chia Seeds
- 4 c Cherries, pitted and dried (36 hours at 115*F in a dehydrator, or a few hours in a low convection oven)
- 1 c Chia Seeds
- 1 c Hemp Hearts
- 1 c Buckwheat Groats (NOT Kasha, its toasted, darker brown version) (gluten-free, despite its deceiving name)
- ½ tsp Vanilla Bean powder
- 3-6 Cherries, Pitted
- 2 c Water
- Mash half of the pitted cherries with a potato masher and mic in the chia seeds.
- Roughly blend (not too smooth) the other half using a hand blender, blender or food processor.
- Add the puree back into the mashed half of the cherries and chia, and mix well.
- The chia takes 15 minutes or so to thicken.
- This will keep covered, in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Top off your steel-cut oatmeal or quinoa porridge, or spread on a seed cracker with your favourite nut or seed butter. A spoon works too...
- Pit, halve and dehydrate the cherries (however you dry them, dehydrator or oven, make sure they get chewy and bendy-dry. If they aren't dry enough, they could get moldy)
- Mix with the rest of the ingredients.
- This keeps covered, in the fridge for a month. It freezes well too.
- In a blender, blend together the pitted cherries and water until well blended, and there are no visible 'bits' left.
- Replace a cup of ice for a cup of water if you want it cooler (in hotter months).
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