What to eat after a workout? These greek yogurt bowls with cherry chia jam, hemp seeds, granola, and more sweet cherries for delicious recovery fuel!
This post is sponsored by my friends at Chelan Fresh. All opinions are my own.
A couple of weeks ago, we kicked off the summer cherry season with a round-up of 15 healthy cherry recipes to get you started!
Today, I’m back with another delicious Chelan Fresh sweet cherry recipe. I also want to share with you a little bit about the health benefits of cherries, especially when it comes to pain relief and post-workout recovery.
Chelan Fresh cherries are grown in central Washington where warm summer days and cool nights produce the plumpest juiciest cherries you’ll ever taste. I’m so happy that we have access to Chelan Fresh sweet cherries in Arizona, where most plants just barely survive all summer, much less produce any fruit (if you live here, you know what I’m talking about.)
Just one bite of these sweet cherries is so refreshingly delicious and makes me feel like I’m reliving the summers of my childhood visiting my Grandpa in Washington. Aside from my bowl of cherries time traveling me to childhood, they are also packed with nutrition that may help with exercise recovery, arthritis, and gout. Read on to learn more about the latest cherry research!
Cherries are probably the nutrition powerhouse you didn’t expect. Just 1 cup or about 21 sweet cherries provides 97 calories, 2 grams protein, 25 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, as well as Vitamin C, potassium, copper, and manganese. They are also incredibly rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that benefit optimal health in many ways.
One of the compounds that cherries have been heavily researched for containing is a compound known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are phytochemicals that give cherries it’s deep red hue, but when consumed, also provide us health benefits. As early as 2001, anthocyanins from cherries were identified for their potent anti-inflammatory properties, actually acting similar to NSAIDS by inhibiting inflammatory pathways in our bodies(1).
The potential for cherries to aid in post-workout exercise recovery is two-fold. First, cherries are a rich source of natural sugar. Research shows that pairing a protein with a carbohydrate post-workout is most useful for exercise recovery and muscle growth than a protein alone (2). Carbohydrates help to refuel your glycogen stores and promote muscle repair. (3) That’s why for this recipe, I wanted to focus on pairing a protein with your cherries for maximal benefit post-workout.
A 2013 study found that Cherries may act as a “natural anti-inflammatory agent” and that eating more cherries may enhance muscle recovery, reduce exercise-induced inflammation and oxidative stress, and decrease exercise-related pain. (4)
ARTHRITIS PAIN RELIEF
Another 2013 study found that clinical changes in biomarkers of inflammation commonly associated with arthritis were reduced with the daily consumption of sweet cherries. Their findings suggested that increased use of cherries in the diet could potentially prevent or reduce the severity of arthritis. (5)
To date, no clinical trials exist (that I could find) on the direct impact of consumption of cherries on symptoms of arthritis (just the biomarkers of inflammation related to pain.) However, there are studies on tart cherry juice and reduction in pain related to osteoarthritis. One study found that tart cherry juice significantly reduced pain associated with osteoarthritis and inflammation. (6)
Although the study looked at tart cherry juice, I have good news for cherry enthusiasts like you and me. First, you almost always get the most benefits from food in its whole form (aka whole cherries.) Second, the anti-inflammatory properties of whole sweet cherries are thought to be stronger than of cherry juice alone (1).
Given the evidence, I’d say they are worth adding a cup of sweet cherries at least a few times a week if you have a family history or personal history of arthritis.
GOUT PAIN RELIEF
Gout is a condition in which uric acid crystals build-up in certain areas of the body, causing pain. A study with 633 people with gout who ate fresh cherries over two days had 35% fewer gout attacks than those who did not have cherries. Furthermore, the study revealed that if cherry intake was combined with a common gout medication, allopurinol, gout attacks were 75% less likely than having no cherries or medication. (7)
How to Make Cherry Chia Greek Yogurt Bowls
The first step is to make the cherry chia seed jam, which is super easy. First, pit two cups of Chelan Fresh sweet cherries and add them to a small pot.
Then, add in the remaining ingredients of chia seeds, honey, and water.
Next, you’ll mash down the cherries until it becomes an incorporated jam (I used a potato masher.) You’ll want to simmer it for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring to give the chia seeds time to gel and create that final jam texture!
The chia seed jam will stay good in the refrigerator for at least a week, so you can use it to top all your yogurt bowls, toast, or anything else your little heart desires all week!
Let me know if you try this one!
Cherry Chia Greek Yogurt Bowls
To Make Chia Seed Jam:
- Add cherries, chia seeds, honey, and water to a small pot on high. Using a potato masher, mash down cherries and stir to combine with the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes stirring constantly.
To Make Greek Yogurt Bowls
- Mix greek yogurt with vanilla extract. Top greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons cherry chia seed jam, hemp hearts, granola, and a few additional Chelan Fresh Sweet Cherries. Eat within one hour of working out.
- Seeram, N. P., Momin, R. A., Nair, M. G., & Bourquin, L. D. (2001). Cyclooxygenase inhibitory and antioxidant cyanidin glycosides in cherries and berries. Phytomedicine, 8(5), 362-369.
- Rasmussen, B. B., Tipton, K. D., Miller, S. L., Wolf, S. E., & Wolfe, R. R. (2000). An oral essential amino acid-carbohydrate supplement enhances muscle protein anabolism after resistance exercise. Journal of applied physiology, 88(2), 386-392.
- Poole, C., Wilborn, C., Taylor, L., & Kerksick, C. (2010). The role of post-exercise nutrient administration on muscle protein synthesis and glycogen synthesis. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 9(3), 354.
- Bell, P., McHugh, M., Stevenson, E., & Howatson, G. (2013). Application of cherries in sport and health and exercise. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.
- Kelley, D. S., Adkins, Y., Reddy, A., Woodhouse, L. R., Mackey, B. E., & Erickson, K. L. (2013). Sweet bing cherries lower circulating concentrations of markers for chronic inflammatory diseases in healthy humans. The Journal of nutrition, 143(3), 340-344.
- Schumacher, H. R., Pullman-Mooar, S., Gupta, S. R., Dinnella, J. E., Kim, R., & McHugh, M. P. (2013). Randomized double-blind crossover study of the efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. Osteoarthritis and cartilage, 21(8), 1035-1041.
- Zhang, Y., Neogi, T., Chen, C., Chaisson, C., Hunter, D. J., & Choi, H. K. (2012). Cherry consumption and decreased risk of recurrent gout attacks. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 64(12), 4004-4011.