A major inspiration for writing ROCKET FUEL (other than fame and fortune!) was the emergence of research showing that certain foods you can source from supermarkets and bulk bins can do just as good of a job at boosting exercise performance and recovery as engineered sports nutrition products. Case in point: deliciously sweet-tart Montmorency cherries. It turns out their abundance of antioxidants can help athletes get more out of their workouts.
A study in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that cyclist who consumed a Montmorency tart cherry concentrate for 8 days prior to a 109-minute cycling trial experienced signs of accelerated recovery such as less inflammation and muscle pain. An important perk for those who regularly train hard. A separate study in the journal Nutrients discovered that regular consumption of Montmorency tart cherries can improve measures of recovery such as muscular pain and agility in those involved in sprint style sports such as soccer.
This makes Montmorency tart cherries a powerful addition to any diet geared towards achieving peak performance. For this reason, I’m always looking for ways to sneak more into my eating plan. Dried tart cherries are a great addition to a bowl of yogurt or oatmeal. They also find a way into many of my trail mix combos and DIY energy bars. Tart cherry juice can be enjoyed straight up after a spirited workout or used as a liquid base for post-training smoothies. Or try wrapping up this bundle of recovery nutrition after your next sweat fest. Creamy, crunchy and sweet at once, these craveable wraps provide a double cherry wallop to show your weary muscles some love. The dried Montmorency tart cherry topping is equally good strewn over yogurt or ice-cream. If using Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate, mix 2 tablespoons with 1 cup water, which is roughly the equivalent of 1 cup of pure tart cherry juice.
Want to find out how Montmorency tart cherries can improve your fitness gains? The kind folks at Choosecherries.com would like to award a ROCKET FUEL reader with some tart cherry goodness to try this recipe or any of the other tart cherry infused recipes found in the pages of ROCKET FUEL. Just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Montmorency tart cherries” in the subject line to enter. This contest closes January 12th!
Cherry Cheesecake Wraps
1 cup Montmorency tart cherry juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup dried Montmorency tart cherries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
2 teaspoons grated orange or lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
4 small whole-grain wraps
1/2 cup cream cheese
4 tablespoons chopped almonds
Place cherry juice, honey, dried cherries, cinnamon, ginger, orange or lemon zest and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove dried cherries from pan and set aside. Raise heat to high and boil, uncovered, for 3 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by about half and syrupy. Stir cherries and almond extract if using back into liquid.
To assemble wraps, spread about 2 tablespoons cream cheese on a wrap and then top with cherry mixture and almonds. Roll and eat.
In Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sports & Adventure, award-winning dietitian Matt Kadey offers up 120 delicious, creative, and convenient real-food recipes to power your everyday exercise and weekend adventures.
Rocket Fuel is available now in bookstores, outdoors stores, and online from these online retailers:
Barnes & Noble
Chapters/Indigo and MEC.ca in Canada
Food photography by Aaron Colussi.