Has the weather been heating up in your neck of the woods this week? Around here the temperatures have been rising into “hot summer” territory. Today it’s supposed to creep into the high 80’s. We’re having a heatwave! You know what that means right? Time to break out the popsicle molds.
Oh yeahh. Ain’t nothing better on a scorcher of a day than an icy cold fruity popsicle. Correction: nothing’s better after a sweaty hot run on a summer day, than a frozen icy pop. Today’s post is less a recipe, and more an idea I tried and I’m loving lately. I can’t in all good conscience call this a recipe when the basic ingredient list (minus variations) has but two items.
While all frozen juice pops are refreshing on a hot day, these healthy treats are especially beneficial after an intense workout. What makes these popsicles so special? They are chock-full of inflammation-soothing tart cherries. Tart cherries boast an impressive list of health benefits, most notably their ability to ease muscle and joint pain.
Tart Cherries Ease Post-Run Pain
A study conducted by the Oregon Health and Science University put tart cherries to the test. 54 long distance runners drank either tart cherry juice or a placebo twice a day before a big race. Although neither group finished completely pain-free, the tart cherry juice drinkers reported experiencing much less pain both during and after the race. According to research reported in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, tart cherry juice also helped relieve knee pain for 58 patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis. The takeaway from these studies is that tart cherries and their juice may be a healthy and safe alternative to common over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin.
The Cherry Challenge
One real-life study of tart cherry juice relieving post-run pain comes from one of my favorite bloggers, Matt, over at No Meat Athlete. He participated in a 7 day Tart Cherry Juice Challenge sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute. He found that not only did he have NO muscle soreness after a week of challenging runs, but also an old shoulder injury began to feel drastically better. (You can read more in his post: The Surprising Results of My Tart Cherry Juice Challenge)
Better Sleep, Gout Prevention
Tart cherries and tart cherry juice have other health benefits as well, including better sleep (thanks to naturally occurring melatonin and tryptophan) and gout prevention (due to tart cherries’ anthocyanins, a class of pigments, which among other things helps lower levels of uric acid responsible for causing gout).
A Trip Down Cherry Lane
These Sour Cherry Popsicles take me back to my youth. Every summer throughout my childhood, my cousins and I would feast from the cherry trees in my grandma and grandpa’s yard. My grandparents had both sweet and tart cherry trees, that were always brimming with bundles of little red orbs. While the sweet cherries were delicious, I always loved sour foods as a kid, and would plant myself under the lowest branch of the tart cherry tree and snack to my heart’s content. The cherries were small but juicy and lip-puckering sour. It seems my daughter is following in my sour-loving footsteps.
If you’re feeling adventurous, add the juice of half a lime to the mix. Or, for more inflammation-fighting power, add a chunk of ginger and turmeric to the blender. These pops are sour, that’s for certain, but they still have a hint of natural fruit sweetness. Just the thought of them waiting for me in the freezer has powered me through two hot runs this week. Maybe it’s the power of suggestion (i.e. placebo effect) but I haven’t had nearly as much muscle soreness as I normally would.
Don’t take my word for it, give them a try! They just might help stave off a case of achy runner’s legs, or at the very least will cool you down during this May heatwave!
Sour Cherry Recovery Popsicles
makes about 6 popsicles
1 cup organic pure tart cherry juice (I used Lakewood Organic)
1 cup frozen (or fresh) tart cherries
juice of half a lime
1 inch chunk of ginger or turmeric
a few whole cherries
Directions: blend all ingredients in a blender. Put a few whole cherries into the popsicle molds, then pour in the blended juice. You can also strain the juice (I tried it both ways. Unstrained it has a tiny hint of texture from the cherry pulp, so if you’re highly sensitive to that you may want to strain). Place in the freezer, after 15 minutes or so poke in your popsicle sticks and then continue to freeze until solid.