(Family Features) Whether fresh cherries are a favorite or a treat you’ve yet to try, the time to enjoy them is now.
Orchards in the Pacific Northwest, the nation’s largest growing region, experienced a long, cool spring, which often translates into more time and energy a tree can put into the fruit. When combined with the superior growing conditions characteristic to the area, this season’s fruit showcases what Northwest cherries are known for: their large size and sweet flavor profile.
Popular varieties grown in the Northwest include the mahogany-red Bings and super-sweet, yellow Rainiers. Rainier cherries, with their unique golden color and red blush, tend to ripen earlier in the year. Growers pick Rainier cherries over multiple weeks, selecting the ripest fruit each time.
Other varieties include the early-ripening Chelans and Tietons, followed by the often larger and darker Skeenas, Sweethearts and Lapins. Aside from the light-hued Rainier (which has juice that doesn’t stain) you can typically spot sweet cherries by their dark red skins – in general, the darker, the sweeter.
Great taste aside, sweet cherries are a healthful addition to summer picnics, parties and barbecues thanks to their fiber, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory power. They make for a snack that both grownups and little ones can enjoy straight out of the bowl thanks to their stem “handle” and can perk up appetizers, salads, desserts, sweet or savory sauces and more.
Outside of summer get-togethers, cherries make for a better-for-you late-night snack option as well. A cup of fresh, sweet cherries contains only 90 calories along with a low glycemic index of 22 making their cold, sweet crunch a tasty way to satisfy hunger cravings. Plus, they boast melatonin, which helps regulate circadian rhythm and promote healthy sleep patterns.
Fresh cherries should be kept in a sealed bag or container, and keep for approximately two weeks when refrigerated. To extend the cherry season and enjoy their health benefits after summer fades, buy an extra bag or two and preserve cherries by rinsing, packing and freezing them.
Basic freezing instructions
- Select 3-5 pounds of firm, ripe, Northwest-grown sweet cherries.
- After rinsing and draining, spread whole cherries with stems in a layer on a baking sheet.
- Place in freezer until firm then pack into freezer-proof containers or plastic freezer bags. Remove excess air and cover tightly.
- Add frozen cherries to smoothies or juices, or defrost and put in hot cereal, pies, turnovers, cobblers and more. Or enjoy as a frozen, sweet late-night treat.
To create a festive cherry dish for the summer season, try this Cherry Bruschetta as a snack or appetizer. Find more recipes and cherry tips at nwcherries.com.
- 18 slices (1/2-inch thick) small baguette-style bread
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 cups pitted Northwest fresh sweet cherries, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup diced yellow sweet pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon grated lime peel
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Arrange baguette slices on cookie sheet and toast one side 5 minutes. Turn slices, brush with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and bake 5 minutes longer.
- Combine cherries, cilantro, sweet pepper, green onions, lime juice, lime peel, garlic salt, pepper and remaining olive oil; mix well.
- Top each baguette with thin slice of cheese, 1 tablespoon cherry mixture and sprinkle of sliced basil. Serve warm or cold.
Source: Northwest Cherry Growers
(Family Features) Dozens of streaming video providers are making it easier than ever to watch the TV programming you want when you want it, and exclusive programming released an entire season at a time is transforming the way Americans watch TV. The flip side of this convenience is a surge in binge-watching, which can have some negative side effects, including binge eating.
When your favorite show is available back-to-back, it’s easy to let substantial blocks of time get away as you watch “just one more” episode to follow the twists and turns of the plot. In fact, according to a recent survey by Dole, the average binge-watching session clocks in around 5 hours. The same survey found that more than two-thirds of people prefer healthy snacks to fuel their marathon viewing.
Treating yourself to an occasional binge session may give your brain a well-earned break, and it’s easy to do many forms of exercise in front of the screen. The trick to keeping your binge-watching session in check and getting rid of the guilt is to exercise good habits when you head to the kitchen.
- Opt for snacks that include valuable vitamins and minerals.
- Keep your kitchen stocked with ingredients such as high quality, ready-to-eat Dole Jarred Fruit so you can create quick and easy snacks with a serving of fruit in between episodes or during a commercial break.
- Look for quick solutions that help trim prep time and skip the cutting, peeling and mess.
- Avoid waste or spoilage with convenient, re-sealable lids that let you use what you need for a single serving and save the rest for later.
- Get creative to satisfy cravings. Instead of reaching for cookies or cake, dip fruit in melted chocolate and pop it in the freezer. Let it sit while you watch a few episodes of your favorite show and then enjoy.
Find more quick and easy snacks that can be made during a commercial break at dolesunshine.com.
- Pre-made flatbread crust
- Broccoli rabe
- Cooked and chopped turkey bacon
- Dole Jarred Mandarin Oranges
- Cover flatbread with chopped broccoli rabe, turkey bacon and oranges.
- Low-fat yogurt
- Dole Jarred Sliced Peaches
- In cup or jar, alternate layering yogurt, granola and chopped peaches. Top with mint and serve immediately.
Brightened Up Caprese Salad
- Fresh mozzarella cheese
- Dole Jarred Sliced Peaches
- Fresh basil
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- Balsamic glaze
- Arrange alternate slices of mozzarella and peaches. Sprinkle fresh basil, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
- Whole-wheat bread
- Dole Jarred Sliced Peaches
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Slice avocado in half, remove pit and scoop out avocado into bowl. Smash until desired consistency.
- Toast bread, layer with avocado and top with peaches. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.
1-2-3 Chicken Wrap
- Whole-wheat tortilla
- Dole Jarred Mandarin Oranges
- Cooked chicken, chopped
- Yogurt-based dressing of choice
- Lay tortilla flat and add spinach, oranges and chicken. Top with dressing. Fold, cut and serve.
Substitution: Preferred greens can be added in place of or in addition to spinach
Tropical Fruit Salsa
- Dole Jarred Tropical Fruit
- 1 white onion
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 jalapeno
- 1 lime, juiced
- Tortilla chips
- Chop 2 cups fruit, dice onion, chop cilantro and seed and mince jalapeno.
- Combine ingredients and stir in lime juice. Serve alongside tortilla chips.
Source: Dole Jarred Fruit
Fewer calories, more protein is a winning combo for weight loss and healthy aging
(Family Features) Do you pay attention to how much protein you eat at each meal? A new study suggests that when it comes to weight loss and healthy aging, getting enough protein at mealtimes is important.
Duke University researchers found obese women who ate adequate or high amounts of protein, including nutrient-rich lean pork, as part of a six month weight-loss diet not only lost weight, they improved their ability to get around, too.
“There’s no magic bullet when it comes to weight loss,” said Connie Bales, PhD, professor in medicine at Duke University. “But our research suggests a higher-protein, lower-calorie diet, including lean pork, could be a viable solution – especially for older women who are most at risk.”
While most Americans eat the majority of their protein at dinner, researchers suggest there could be benefits to spreading protein throughout the day. In this study, women ate 30 grams of protein at each meal with two of the meals including lean pork. Choices like tenderloin, low-sodium ham, chops and lean ground pork are among the seven cuts of pork that meet the USDA guidelines for “lean” by containing less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 100 grams of meat. In fact, pork tenderloin has the same amount of fat as a skinless chicken breast.
The next time you fire up your grill, try these lemon-basil pork chops. Serve up 30 grams of tasty protein for dinner, while tapping into the flavors of summer.
Grilled Lemon-Basil Pork Chops with Lemon-Basil Orzo
- 4 bone-in ribeye (rib) pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
- 3 small lemons
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 8 ounces orzo
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- Zest and juice lemons. In small bowl, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and basil. Set aside 3 tablespoons of mixture. Transfer remaining mixture to large resealable bag and add pork. Set aside for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
- Meanwhile, prepare orzo according to package directions. Drain and return orzo to pot. Stir in reserved lemon-basil mixture and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Prepare a grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil grate. Remove pork from marinade; discard marinade. Season pork with salt and pepper and grill until internal temperature reaches 145 F, about 4 minutes per side. Remove chops from grill and let rest 3 minutes.
- Serve chops with orzo.
Nutritional information per serving: 440 calories; 30 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 70 mg cholesterol; 30 g protein; 47 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 60 mg sodium.
Source: National Pork Board
(Family Features) Keep warm with hearty dishes that satisfy appetites and comfort food cravings. From russets to reds, fingerlings to purples, the hearty potato comes in many beautiful varieties that add color and texture to beloved comfort dishes. Bring out the flavors of your down-home creation by pairing it with a perfectly suited wine.
A spicy red with raspberry and peppery flavors, Zinfandel pairs particularly well with the flavors of winter — the season where comfort food is king. When searching for the perfect complement to your hearty, comfort fare, go for wines that deliver on quality at a fair price.
Discover Amador County, an up-and-coming wine region nestled in the rolling Sierra Foothills of California, through the wines of Renwood Winery. The winery runs under the direction of Joe Shebl, a talented winemaker whose artistic vision and passion for both Zinfandel and Amador County shows in every bottle.
For more information, visit www.renwood.com.
One Healthy Spud
Beyond their appearance in some of the most beloved dishes, potatoes also boast many benefits to your diet. Here are few reasons to add this versatile vegetable into meals:
Potassium — Potatoes are a great source of potassium, which may help lower high blood pressure, making them a heart-healthy choice. In fact, potatoes contain more potassium than a banana or spinach.
Vitamins — A spud a day may keep the cold germs away. One medium-sized spud has nearly half the recommended daily value of vitamin C and is also a good source of vitamin B6.
Dietary fiber — Potatoes are also a source of dietary fiber, a complex carbohydrate, which is known to increase satiety and help with weight loss.
Gluten free — Potatoes are a naturally gluten-free food, so those with gluten sensitivity can enjoy this flavorful vegetable.
For more on potatoes and healthy recipe ideas, visit www.eatwisconsinpotatoes.com.
Pair with Renwood Zinfandel, California
Yield: 6 servings
- 5 pounds bone-in short ribs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/3 cups Renwood Zinfandel
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 beef bouillon cubes
- 6 large Wisconsin potatoes, washed, peeled and quartered
- 1/2 pound small fresh mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen whole green beans
- 1 can (16 ounces) peeled whole tomatoes, undrained
- Dredge ribs in flour to coat; reserve leftover flour.
- Heat oil in 8-quart Dutch oven on moderate heat.
- Add half of ribs and brown on all sides. Once browned, remove ribs. Repeat instructions for remaining ribs.
- Stir in the reserved flour. While stirring, add 1 cup water and wine and stir until thickened.
- Return ribs to the pan.
- Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper and bouillon and bring to a boil.
- Cover and lower heat to simmer for about 1 hour, or until ribs are tender.
- Remove ribs with slotted spoon and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Add potatoes, mushrooms and beans. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
- Add ribs and tomatoes with liquid, and heat through.
- Use slotted spoon to remove meat and vegetables to large serving platter.
- Remove gravy to serving container and serve with ribs.
Healthy Potato Lasagna
Pair with Renwood Premier Old Vine Zinfandel, Amador County
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 links Italian turkey sausage (3 1/2 ounces each)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried basil or Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 egg white
- 2 cups marinara sauce, divided
- 1 1/4 pounds Wisconsin Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced, divided
- 1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- Remove sausage from casing and crumble into medium skillet with onion.
- Cook for 10 minutes or until both are browned, breaking up sausage with back of spoon.
- Stir together ricotta, basil, garlic powder and egg white in small bowl.
- Spread 1/2 cup marinara sauce in bottom of 9-inch square baking dish.
- Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the dish, forming solid layer with no gaps.
- Drop 1/2 ricotta mixture in spoonfuls over top and spread out just a little.
- Sprinkle with 1/3 of mozzarella and 1/2 sausage mixture.
- Add 1/2 cup more sauce then repeat potato, cheese and meat layers.
- Top with last layer of potatoes, remaining sauce and mozzarella.
- Cover with plastic wrap and make small slit to vent.
- Microwave on high for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Quick & Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken & Potatoes
Pair with Renwood Zinfandel, Fiddletown
- 2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence (or combination of dried thyme, fennel, basil and savory)
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 4 small (2 pounds) bone-in-chicken breasts, skin removed
- 1 1/4 pounds small Wisconsin red potatoes
- 3/4 cup frozen, thawed pearl onions
- 1 cup small baby carrots
- 3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 8 ounces small baby bella or white mushrooms
- Chopped fresh thyme (optional)
- Combine Herbs de Provence, garlic salt, and pepper on a dinner plate.
- Spoon flour onto a second dinner plate.
- Coat each chicken breast with herb mixture; then dredge in flour.
- Heat oil in a large skillet.
- Add chicken and cook over medium-high heat until chicken is golden brown on both sides (approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side). If necessary, cook chicken in two batches so as not to crowd the pan.
- Once browned, place chicken in large slow cooker and add all remaining ingredients, except fresh thyme.
- Cover slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
- Sprinkle with fresh thyme before serving, if desired.
(Family Features) When looking for inspiration on the grill, nothing beats the tender, juicy pork chop. This hearty protein is a versatile canvas for a wide range of mouthwatering rubs, glazes and marinades that will ignite taste buds with bold new flavors.
To fire up your grill creativity, look to simple, fuss-free recipes that pack big flavor. Take your pork chops on a jaunt through the Mediterranean with a savory Basil-Garlic Rub. Or, spice up the chop with a Fire-Lovers Rub, featuring a robust blend of Southwestern-inspired spices. No matter what tastes you crave, the pork chop is your perfect partner on the grill all year long.
For more on how to get the most out of pork on the grill, turn to these tips from the National Pork Board:
Know your chops. Did you know there are five different pork chop cuts? From the richly marbled blade chop to the lean iconic loin chop, there are many delicious options for quick-cooking chops on the grill. Ask your retailer or butcher to help choose the cut that's right for you-it might just result in a new favorite.
Make it your own. Pork chops pair perfectly with a virtually endless variety of tasty rubs and marinades. Experiment with your own flavor combinations by taking standby recipes and swapping out or adding ingredients to suit your family's tastes.
Mind your cook time. For juicy, tender pork, the USDA now recommends cooking chops, roasts and tenderloins to an internal temperature of 145°F with a 3-minute rest. Be sure to use a digital cooking thermometer for the most delicious results.
For more details on pork chop cuts, tips and mouthwatering recipes, visit www.PorkBeInspired.com. You can also follow the National Pork Board on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PorkBeInspired and on Twitter @AllAboutPork.
When looking for inspiration on the grill, nothing beats the tender, juicy pork chop.
- 4 bone-in pork loin chops, 3/4-inch thick
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- With machine running, drop garlic through feed tube of food processor to mince. Stop, add fresh basil, and process until chopped. Add lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper and process to make a thin wet rub. Spread both sides of pork chops with basil mixture. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes.
- Prepare medium-hot fire in grill. Brush grate clean and oil grate. Grill chops, over direct heat, turning once, to medium rare doneness, 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F, followed by a 3-minute rest.
Calories: 210g | Total Fat: 14g
Cholesterol: 60mg | Protein: 27g
Carbohydrates: 2g | Sodium: 620mg
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- Mix chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt, cayenne, granulated garlic and black pepper in small bowl. Rub both sides of pork chops with spice mixture. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes. Cook chops to an internal temperature of 145°F with a 3-minute rest.
Calories: 220g Total Fat: 14.5g
Cholesterol: 60mg Protein: 27g
Carbohydrates: 4g Sodium: 1220mg
Makes enough for 4 pork chops
SOURCE: National Pork Board
- 1 medium spaghetti squash (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) washed, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 1/2 ripe Avocado from Mexico (4 ounces), pitted and diced
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves or Italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup hot water
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.
- Pierce outside of each half of squash a few times with a fork. Place squash cut side down on baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, or until very tender when tested with a fork. Cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, place avocado, basil or parsley, chives, Parmesan, garlic, salt, black pepper and hot water in blender and process until smooth, turning blender off and on occasionally and adding a tablespoon or two of additional hot water if needed. There will be between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of pesto.
- When squash has cooled, use fork to rake the spaghetti-like threads of squash into a serving bowl. Discard skin. Drizzle pesto over squash and garnish with fresh basil or parsley if desired.
Makes 6 servings
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Credit: Cheryl Forberg, R.D. "The Biggest Loser: Simple Swaps" (Rodale, 2009)
Source Avocados from Mexico
- 1/2 cup chopped shallots
- 1/4 cup chopped smoked sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 6-ounce can California Green Ripe Olives, well drained
- 1 6-ounce can California Black Ripe Olives, well drained
- 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Crackers or toasted baguette slices
- Place shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and garlic in a food processor and pulse on and off until finely chopped.
- Add olives, basil, salt and pepper and pulse again until chopped.
- Cover and chill for 1 hour. (May be prepared 1 day ahead.) Serve with crackers or toasted baguette slices.
Makes 8 to 10 servings