Chocolate covered cherries. You know what I’m talking about: the ooey gooey, creamy, syrupy middle inside a chocolate shell. They’re one of my favorite Valentine’s Day treats, mostly I think because I adore the flavor combination of fruit and chocolate. But there’s a better way to pair these two tastes and if you play your cards right, you can even call it breakfast.
Smoothies are another favorite food item, and a mainstay at our house. They’re convenient, quick to pull together, and an easy way to sneak in a couple of vegetable and/or fruit servings before you leave the house. And sometimes when I don’t have a big appetite in the morning, sipping sounds altogether better than chewing.
So, I let one favorite merge into the other. Chocolate covered cherries inspired this smoothie recipe, but I opted for the tartness of the sour cherries instead of the more common sweet variety or preserved maraschino. And because you use canned cherries, this doesn’t have to be a seasonal smoothie – you can enjoy it year-round. Cocoa powder and maple syrup stand-in for the chocolatey coating, while soymilk and banana provide the creaminess.
- I used canned cherries, and my local grocery store had two brands, with wildly different prices. You could also use frozen tart cherries. My experience is that those can be hard to find, but my local food co-op often has them.
- One whole 14.5-ounce can of red tart pitted cherries canned in water yields about 1 3/4 cups cherries and 1/2 cup liquid. Since you only need 1 cup for the smoothie you could save the remaining fruit for another recipe.
- I think you could also use Trader Joe’s Dark Morello Cherries in Light Syrup with good results, though I haven’t tested that myself. Since their cherries are canned (jarred?) in a sweetened syrup instead of water, the calories and sugar will be higher.
- You could certainly opt for your favorite milk or nondairy milk instead of soy, but the nutrition facts will be different. Almond, coconut, and rice milk are noticeably lower in protein than cow’s milk or soymilk.
I hope you’ll give this recipe a try, if only to experience the bright flavor of cherries in the dreary month of February. Turns out they’re a pretty nutritious choice. Tart cherries are red because of anthocyanin, a type of colorful phytonutrient. It’s likely the reason behind some recent promising research suggesting that this sour fruit may help with inflammation associated with arthritis and gout, in addition to offering protection against heart disease and stroke. And athletes take note: tart cherry juice has been studied as a possible post-exercise recovery drink.
What better way to start your day than with a sweet treat that’s actually good for you? And at only 260 calories, this smoothie is a safe (and delicious) bet.
Have you found a way to satisfy your sweet tooth with a favorite smoothie?
Kristine Duncan, Registered Dietitian
I’m a Registered Dietitian, the author of Veg Girl RD, and a vegetarian who loves to eat. I’m a nutrition nerd who teaches at the University of Washington and Skagit Valley College. I also write about nutrition professionally for magazines and books. If you want to know more, check out my About page.