My tart cherry love runs deep. Evidenced by my receipt after my monthly Trader Joe’s haul and the disproportionate amount that those little bags of dried tart deliciousness take up. Or, by these tart cherry fudge thumbprints, these balsamic cherry dark chocolate scones, these cherry beef carnitas sandwiches or this BBQ roasted chicken with cherry jalapeno sauce. It’s just a wee little obsession.
So when given the chance to participate in the 7 day Tart Cherry Juice Challenge with the Cherry Marketing Institute, excited would be an understatement for my reaction. 7 days of eating these sour little beauties? Yes, yes and yes!
Tart cherries have actually been found to reduce muscle soreness from intense exercise. That, my friends, is like music to these crossfitting ears. Crossfit has this uncanny ability to leave me barely able to walk or move my arms by the end of the week. Every single week. Today, my butt feels like each cheek was run over by a train after the wonderfully brutal combination of 50 something pistol squats, goblet squats and running a couple of days ago. It’s crazy to me how I can clearly get stronger and in better shape as the weeks go on yet, still remain in a state of “omg, I can’t get out of this bed I’m so sore” each and every day. Anything that might help reduce that soreness and inflammation, especially something as easy as drinking a cup of tart cherry juice twice a day, I’m game for.
The best part about this tart cherry challenge is how easy it is. You can drink the cherry juice straight, mix the cherry concentrate with some water, add it to smoothies or, of course, make chocolate granola with it and enjoy a nice big bowl.
So for the next 7 days I’ll be taking the challenge and incorporating tart cherries in my meals and in some sort of recovery drink after workouts hoping the natural compounds do their thing to relieve some of the constant muscle soreness and inflammation. I’ll be reporting back with results.
And if nothing else, at least there’s some cherry chocolatey goodness to consume while trying.
- 2 cups oats
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 3/4 cup chopped nuts (any kind, I used pecans and walnuts)
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup chopped dried tart cherries
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoons tart cherry concentrate
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a baking sheet with baking spray.
- Combine oats, coconut flakes, nuts, chia seeds, salt, cocoa powder and cherries in a large bowl.
- Whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, cherry concentrate, coconut sugar and vanilla extract in a small bowl.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and toss until fully coated.
- Spread the mixture out onto the baking sheet in an even layer.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, toss the granola and bake for another 10-12 minutes, careful not to burn the nuts.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- Add the chopped chocolate and mix together.