Tart Cherry Challenge: Cherry Lime Energy Balls

The following post about tart cherries is sponsored by FitFluential, Inc. on behalf of The Cherry Marketing Institute.

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I recently completed The Cherry Marketing Institute’s 7-Day Tart Cherry Juice Challenge. In a quick recap, tart cherries have been shown to help reduce soreness and inflammation in the body due to compounds such as anthocyanins. This makes them a great tool in improving recovery times when it comes to exercise and training.

tart cherry challenge

I’m not training for anything right now, but I embarked on the challenge to see if it would make a difference in my every day fitness routine. In addition to sticking with my normal routine, I added back in a few body-pump type weight classes that I’ve steered clear of the past few months since I end up too sore to pick my arms up after a class if I don’t go regularly.

The good news? The classes didn’t kill me. I could still pick up the toddler afterwards and my legs weren’t shaking as I climbed the stairs that night. I can’t say I wasn’t feeling it all though. Winking smile #outofshape

tart cherries

I can easily see incorporating tart cherries into part of my normal routine, partly because it seemed to make enough of a difference that I could see it playing a bigger role in a dedicated training plan. Also partly because it was really easy to incorporate – the dried tart cherries, cherry juice, and cherry juice concentrate all taste really good and have the refreshing type of tang I like when I’m sweaty and thirsty, plus they’re available all year round.

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Before workouts, usually soon after eating breakfast, I drank some of the juice, either as is or incorporated into my homemade sports drink. {I sipped the drink during spin but otherwise didn’t drink it during a workout since I typically don’t do that}. After a workout I refueled with a protein and cherry snack. These tart cherry lime energy balls ended up being what I turned to the most, since they’re portable, versatile, and taste good. As per usual, I had to share a few with the toddler – sneaky little fingers. {Most of the research has provided participants with two 8 ounce servings of tart cherries, thus the before-and-after approach here.}

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This recipe is easily adaptable to whatever ingredients you have on hand and is easy to vary based on flavor preference.

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Cherry Lime Energy Balls

1/2 cup dried tart cherries

1/2 cup cashews

1/2 cup almonds

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp ginger {dry}

juice of 1/2 lime {approx}

Soak cherries in warm water while you prep the rest of your ingredients. Not a required step but I find in helpful in giving the balls sticking powder.

Pulse ingredients in blender or food processor until coarsely chopped. Scoop by the tablespoonful and form into ball. If mixture won’t hold, blend more or add more liquid {coconut oil or lime juice}.

Eat as-is or pop in the freezer to make extra portable and refreshing post-workout.

 

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To learn more about tart cherries and how they can aid your recovery {or for recipe ideas} visit ChooseCherries.com or:

Did you try the tart cherry challenge? What did you think? How did you eat or drink them? Would love to hear your recipes!

Homemade Tart Cherry Sports Drink

The following post about tart cherry juice is sponsored by FitFluential, Inc. on behalf of The Cherry Marketing Institute.

When you’re training for an athletic event, be it a marathon, triathlon, or adventure race, or whether you’re just an exercise enthusiast, there’s one aspect of training that seems to slip by the wayside: recovery.

tart cherries for muscle recovery

It’s kind of how like sleep is the forgotten element of health: diet, exercise, sleep!

How you recover between exercise sessions is as much a part of your training program or exercise regimen as the actual miles logged and the drills performed. Two ways to maximize your recovery are a) rest and b) nutrition.

By nutrition, I mean what you eat or drink before, during, or after training. It may seem a little dull compared to the excitement of building training plans {oh, just me?} but it’s just as important. If you expect to see improvements in your time, your strength, or even simply decrease your fatigue or injury risk, you should consider your recovery strategy.

Most of the time we turn to protein for recovery after a workout. The amino acids that form protein help rebuild and repair the microscopic tears that occur in muscle tissue during training. {It should be noted that carbohydrate after a workout is also important as it helps replenish lost glycogen stores.}

tart cherry juice recipe

But you really probably already know a bit about protein. Instead, let’s talk tart cherry juice. {I know, what a segue.} Some people view juice as an empty source of calories or sugar, but when it comes to muscle recovery, tart cherry juice could actually be a beneficial tool. Tart cherries may help decrease inflammation, muscle damage, and oxidative stress. From elite athlete to weekend warrior, tart cherry juice can help decrease muscle pain associated with intense exercise.  Interestingly enough, tart cherries may also help improve sleep. Better sleep = better recovery.

Tart cherries work in a different capacity than a carb + protein combo post-workout (tart cherries contain a compound called anthocyanin, which has been linked to reducing inflammation)In fact, drinking/eating them before intense exercise can aid in recovery after exercise. That means a pre-workout shake or drink can be beneficial, as can post-workout.

It’s important to note that the research that indicates tart cherry juice aids in recovery is done on tart cherries, not sweet cherries. {Specifically Montmorency cherries.} One of these studies looked at cyclists who drank tart cherry juice twice a day for seven days. They showed less inflammation after a race-scenario than those who didn’t drink the tart cherry juice. I’m going to embark on  The Cherry Marketing Institute’s 7-Day Tart Cherry Juice Challenge to see if I notice a difference myself. Granted I’m nowhere near an elite athlete, but I exercise hard enough to be sore afterwards. Case in point: I can’t lift my arms above my head today.

Here’s a great way to add tart cherry juice to your pre/mid workout routine: add it to a homemade sports drink, like this one:

homemade tart cherry sports drink

Homemade Tart Cherry Sports Drink

by with a Side of Sneakers

Ingredients

  • 4 cups liquid {water, coconut water, or even herbal/fruity tea – a combo of water and coconut water is my favorite}
  • 1/2 cup tart cherry juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated ginger root
  • 1 T honey or agave {adjust to taste}

Instructions

Mix all ingredients together and store in fridge. Drink before, during, or after workouts, or just as a hydrator throughout the day. Tart cherries have been shown to have the most benefit when used twice a day.

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I’ll be checking back in on my 7-day challenge soon – who wants in with me?!

To learn more about tart cherries and how they can aid your recovery {or for recipe ideas} visit ChooseCherries.com or:

12 Succulent Summer Drinks

summer drinks

This collection of summer drink recipes is sponsored by Foodie.com.

It’s hard to believe it’s pretty much just now officially summer considering it’s been well over 90 for at least the past few weeks. But let’s face – July really means “summer” is already almost half over. Time to embrace summer full on if you haven’t already. July around here means not only the 4th of July, but the husband’s birthday and our annual family beach trip with my in-laws. Lots of reasons to celebrate and what’s the best way to celebrate? With a refreshing summer spritzer. Be it alcoholic or not, there’s nothing better than something decadent poured over lots of ice. That to me just screams summer vacation and relaxation.

I’ve put together a collection on Foodie showcasing twelve fabulous beverages to indulge in this summer, from iced coffee to green juices to marvelous cocktails, of course.

Check out 12 Succulent Summer Drinks

by Heather at Foodie.com

Find more of my favorite drink recipes on my Pinterest board. Feel free to leave a link to yours if you have one in the comments.

What’s your favorite summertime drink?

 

P.S. The winner of the Southern Breeze Sweet Tea giveaway is …

Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie

Shoot me an email to claim your prize!

This collection of summer drink recipes is sponsored by Foodie.com.

Brew a Batch of the Good {GIVEAWAY}

This Sweet Tea post is sponsored by Southern Breeze Sweet Tea. Read on for a giveaway!
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I still remember the day I moved into my southern college campus. A fellow student held the door of our dorm wide open for me while I was still 100 feet away. First I thought it was odd; then sweet. It was my first introduction to southern etiquette. I knew I was on to something with this random college I picked in the middle of North Carolina.

sweet tea bags

I spent more than my first year here in the south learning southern-isms and southern sayings. Some were easy to catch on to; others might as well have been a foreign language. I learned toboggans were more than just sleds, you mash the brakes, cut the light on, and get in a wreck, not a car accident.

Then I learned about Southern food. The first rule of Southern food: you don’t mess with it. Anything green is made with ham or bacon, everything gets more butter {I’m looking at you, Paula Deen}, and you don’t mess with the family biscuit recipe.

You also don’t ask for your tea “sweetened or unsweetened”, the way I learned in my waitressing days. Tea here is just sweet. Sure, you can ask for it unsweetened, but there’s a pretty good chance the waiter will think you made a mistake and bring you a glass of the sweet stuff. And no, “sweet tea” isn’t just iced tea with sugar packets emptied into it at the table. It’s brewed hot, with just the right amount of sugar, then cooled with ice.

brew sweet tea

Sounds like a bit of work for a refreshing glass of sweet tea. You can make it easier though. Southern Breeze Sweet Tea makes a family-sized tea bag with the sweetener in the bag, so all you have to do is let it steep and toss in some ice to let it chill.

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Refreshment, at your service.

Even the Southern husband gave it his seal of approval. That’s sayin’ sumthin.

Want to not take his word for it and try it for yourself? Southern Breeze is giving away a sweet tea gift basket.

southern breeze sweet tea

Leave a comment about what you love about Sweet Tea or share a memory of being together with family or friends and drinking Sweet Tea to enter! Feel free to share the giveaway on social media too, of course.

southern breeze sweet tea bags

Giveaway ends Monday June 30th. In case you don’t win, Southern Breeze Sweet Tea is available at Harris Teeter, Ingles, Wegman’s & Amazon.com, or find them on Facebook or Twitter.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Southern Breeze Sweet Tea.

Sweet Potato Chicken Patties {Paleo}

These sweet potato chicken patties are a great make ahead meal. They’re gluten free, dairy free, and paleo. They’re great straight out of the oven or frozen and reheated for a quick weeknight meal when you’re in a hurry.

One of the hardest things about following a “special” diet is coming up with a new set of family-favorite staples. Something that meets the odd dietary needs of two family members, keeps the Husband happy, and pleases the palates of both toddlers and adults. Instead of revamping our old staple dinners and having them be not just-quite-right, I’ve been trying to coming up with things that are entirely new, but not extravagant.

sweet potato chicken patties

Despite an old need for creativity of meals in my pre-family days, I’ve learned that the easiest way to come up with a delicious, crowd-pleasing meal that I’m actually interested in making for dinner in the middle of the week, is dropping the standards of creativity and newness. Instead, sometimes it’s better just to go back to basics and perhaps add a little twist. So often the best meals are discovered when you have “nothing to eat” or failed to plan a meal. That’s exactly how our new favorite meal was born: sweet potato chicken patties.

chicken patties

Sweet Potato Chicken Patties

Hardly genius or original, but new and different to us. Plus, these chicken patties naturally lack dairy, gluten, and soy, and are full of both veggies and protein, making it perfect toddler and adult food. I’ve been making these about once every two weeks, enjoying the leftovers {and thus already-made meal} just as much as the originals. If we begin to tire of them, at least it’s a recipe that’s easy to change up with the different vegetables and seasons. As usual, I don’t do the best job measuring or exactly recreating the recipe each time, so consider it more of an idea or suggestion than strict rules.

easy paleo recipe

Sweet Potato Chicken Patties

by with a Side of Sneakers

 

Ingredients (6-8)

  • 1 large sweet potato, cooked & mashed {chop skin if including}
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 Tablespoons coconut flour (or other flour of choice}
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup roasted peppers, chopped
  • 1 tsp poultry or steak seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder

Instructions

Blend all ingredients together. You’ll probably need to use your hands. Form into patties. It’ll make about 6 to 8 depending on size. Pop in the oven at 350 for 25ish minutes and you’ve got dinner on the table.

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patties and parsnips

These chicken patties are great served over wilted greens like kale or spinach. Of course I chose to photograph them the day I made them with only parsnip fries. Doesn’t make a stunning photo but man parsnip fries are way better than any vegetable should be.

toddler friendly dinner

Paleo sweet potato chicken patties - gluten free, dairy free. Great for making ahead of time and freezing for a quick weeknight meal.

 

What’s your favorite go-to weeknight meal?

If you like this, check these recipes out:

Paleo Tuna Cakes with Jalapeno Mustard Sauce

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

Salted Caramel Snack Balls

 

Click here for more Gluten Free Dairy Free Recipes that won’t leave you trapped in the kitchen for hours or hunting down a million bizarre ingredients.

Girls Night In: Raspberry Beergaritas {& a Mocktail too}

A few weeks ago one of my friends hosted a “Night In”, in honor of the lost art of cocktail parties. I love this idea, especially now that a night out includes the need for a babysitter on top of everything else.

While I’m always down for a casual night in, I’m also in favor of something a little fancier, require you me to dress up {as opposed to my mom-attire gym pants uniform} every once in awhile. The beauty of celebrating at home is that you have a little more room {in time and budget} to get a little fancier with the festivities.

I decided to merge the two somewhere in the middle and create a drink centerpiece that can go either way. Make a true Southern affair with mason jars, jeans, and wildflowers, or kick it up a notch with cocktail glasses and heels.  Either way, I’ve got a drink for you:

Meet the Beergarita.

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What once was deemed a classless action, dumping a beer bottle upside down in your margarita glass, has now become fanfare for celebration. It’s a drink in and of itself and it’s delicious.

You can even make it a Mockarita if you so choose to skip the beer part, or if you’re in need of refreshment and it’s just not quite cocktail hour yet.

This version keeps health in mind too, without going wild and crazy on the calories or the sugar.

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Kick it up another notch for summer and freeze some of the juice ahead of time. Then toss it in the blender with a little more juice or even some chunks of frozen fruit for a nice refreshing slushie. {Save the sparkling water for the end so you don’t make a ‘rita explosion.}

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Top it with lemon, limes, oranges, or whatever fruit you have on hand. You can even get a little adventurous and toss some mint or basil in the mix. Omit the beer and double up on the sparkling water for a mocktail version.

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some fruit to drink. Winking smile

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Raspberry Beergarita

by with a Side of Sneakers

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 bottle beer (12 oz) {a light lime beer would be great. I used my favorite gluten-free pale ale}
  • 1 can fruit-flavored sparkling water {I used a cherry lemon. Lime would be delicious too}
  • 1 lime
  • 1 orange
  • 12 oz Trop50 Raspberry Acai juice
  • Optional: basil or mint for garnish
  • Optional: ice cubes for slushie version

Instructions

Combine beer, sparkling water, and juice.

Squeeze in juice from lime and orange.

Stir to combine.

Pour over ice {or frozen juice cubes}.

Serve cold.

Also try frozen and blended!

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Trop50 has the great taste and goodness you expect from Tropicana, but with 50% less sugar and calories and no artificial sweeteners.

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Trop50 via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Trop50.

What’s your favorite healthy drink for a Girls’ Night In? For more ideas on how to make a rockin’ girls’ night in, check out the Foodie Girls Night In Pinterest board or the collection on Foodie.com {see below}.