Meet Alex Caspero
Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
I’m so excited that summer produce is in full swing! I know I say this every year, but this time of year really is my favorite. The long, hot days just beg for maximum fruit consumption, especially one of my favorite summertime fruits— sweet Northwest-grown cherries. I’m partnering today with the Northwest Cherry Growers to chat about the health benefits of sweet cherries and to share with you a new recipe, Sweet Cherry Lime Popsicles!
Deep red varieties like Bing and Chelan along with pink and yellow Rainer cherries are hitting grocery stores and farmers markets right now and I can’t get enough! As the fresh cherry season is relatively brief, I’m trying to eat as many as I can right now. In season from now until August, get ‘em while you can when they are at their freshest and tastiest. To make the most of the season, I highly recommend freezing them for use year-round. I loaded up with a few bags over the weekend and have already turned this summer gold into cherry jam, cherry cobbler and trays of frozen cherries.
There are so many reasons to eat fresh sweet cherries. Cherries are a good source of potassium. Evidence shows that a diet rich in potassium may help to control blood pressure and reduce the risk for hypertension and stroke. In addition, the phenolic acids found in cherries exert vasorelaxing and antihypertensive effects. That’s just a fancy way of saying that eating cherries relaxes your blood vessels which can decrease blood pressure.
As someone who is always focused on reducing chronic disease, I’m keen on including more fresh sweet cherries into my diet as they are chock-full of antioxidants. Antioxidants found in cherries may help to reduce the risk of cancer. Sweet cherries contain perillyl alcohol, which has been shown to inhibit pancreatic, breast, liver, colon, skin and lung cancers. In lab studies, the phenolic compounds of sweet cherries appear to inhibit breast cancer cell growth. Pretty amazing benefits, amirite?
Aside from being deliciously sweet, cherries have a low glycemic index, which means they release glucose slowly — preventing any sudden spikes or crashes. Eating fresh sweet cherries may also help to reduce hyperglycemia, oxidative stress and other inflammatory markers that are predictors of type II diabetes.
I could go on and on about how incredible sweet fresh cherries are for you— but let’s get to the popsicles! We eat a lot of homemade popsicles in my house as making your own lets you control the ingredients. I try not to be super crazy when it comes to the foods I introduce Vander too, but I feel that most snacks that are marketed to kids are full of things I don’t love: namely, excess sugar and artificial colors and flavorings. Who needs all that when you’re starting with ripe, fresh fruit?
Yes! I highly recommend buying fresh cherries in bulk when they are in season and freezing them.
Halve cherries and remove the pit. I also suggest grabbing a cherry pitter while you are at it. I loathe single-use tools in my kitchen, but a cherry pitter makes removing the pit so incredibly easy. They are inexpensive and worth it!
Then place in a single layer on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet until frozen; remove and store in freezer-safe bags or containers. Individually quick-freezing the cherries prevents them from sticking together once frozen.
From there, you can use frozen cherries just as you would fresh! Frozen cherries can be used for pie, for cobbler, in smoothies and in these popsicles.
You can also use other fruits, like in these strawberry popsicles.
These popsicles couldn’t be easier— and need just a handful of ingredients! Throw everything into the blender, puree and then pour into your favorite molds.
For texture, I chop fresh cherries and add them to the mold but that’s optional! As popsicle molds can be finicky, these silicone ones that pop out are my favorite. The mini version fits perfectly into small kid hands and this size is perfect for anytime you are in need of a refreshing, sweet treat.
Packed with sweet cherries, these popsicles are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, iron, copper, zinc and manganese. A single cup of sweet cherries contains 2.5g of fiber, making them a great way to get in the recommended 25-35g of dietary fiber each day for good digestive health.
Sweet Cherry Lime Popsicles! These no-sugar added, naturally sweetened vegan cherry popsicles are perfect for summer!
3 cups fresh sweet cherries, halved
1 cup plain, unsweetened canned coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon lime zest
These are the popsicle molds that I LOVE! They are silicone and super easy to pop out once frozen!
I don’t think these need any sweetener, but if you like your popsicles on the sweeter side then you can add in 1-2 Tablespoons sugar