February Food of the Month: Cherries

February, the month we celebrate love through Valentine’s Day. Because of their bright red color and sweet, juicy nature, cherries are the perfect ‘Love’ food. I do prefer the dark sweet cherries over the sour ones, only because you have to add an abundance of sweetener to overcome the strong sour flavor. Cherries are a seasonal fruit, so you will not find fresh ones in the store at this time. Look for frozen, organic cherries, they have the best flavor. If your cherries are not organic, the pesticides can not only harm you, they can alter the taste of your pie. Pesticides have a bitter taste that can come through when creating desserts and not using organic fruit.

Cherries are an excellent source of iron, and contain vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. They can increase your vital energy and are considered a warming food. They are therapeutic for gout and numbness in the extremities because they remove excess body acids and blood stagnation. Cherries are related to the plum, which has been eaten since prehistoric times.

When making a pie, it usually is the crust that is the most challenging. This crust is a ‘pressed’ crust, which means you do not have to roll it out with a rolling pin. Pressed crusts are much easier to make and work with, and are just as delicious. I use ground pecans in the crust to give it more moisture through the natural oils found in the nuts. Oat bran and oat flour are both gluten free, high in iron and can help reduce cholesterol. In the filling, I have included 2 tsp. of dark miso. I have found that when creating a pie with fruit, the miso has a way of bringing out the natural flavors of the fruit. If you don’t have the dark miso you can substitute 1/4 tsp. sea salt. It’s very important to always include a little salt in your desserts, as it balances the sweetness and makes the dessert more flavorful.

Pear Cherry Pie

Filling:
3 cups pears (peeled and cut up)
3 cups dark sweet cherries
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
5 T. arrowroot
2 tsp. dark miso
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. dried ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
Crust:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup water
pinch sea salt
pinch allspice
1/4 tsp. dried ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup pecans (ground up)
1 cup oat bran
1 1/2 cups oat flour

To make filling, place in a sauce pan the pears, cherries, brown rice syrup, arrowroot, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice. On a low temperature, slowly heat the filling. Whisk together the 1/4 cup water and miso. Add to filling. Heat until starting to thicken, stirring occasionally. To make crust, whisk together the olive oil, brown rice syrup, water and spices. Add the pecans, oat bran and oat flour. Mix together until you get a stiff dough. Using wet hands, press into an oiled pie shell. Save about 1/4 of the dough to use as topping. Pour filling into crust. Crumble remaining dough over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Let cool completely before cutting and serving.

Valerie Wilson is a chef, author, counselor and host of ‘Healthy Cooking with MacroVal’ on BMS Radio.
Recipe is from her cookbook ‘Perceptions In Healthy Cooking’.
Visit: www.macroval.com (734)722-4553

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About the writer: Valerie Wilson

Valerie Wilson is a chef, author, counselor, and host of "Healthy Cooking with Macro Val" on BMSRadio. She teaches macrobiotic, vegan cooking classes in Westland, Mi.

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