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For Immediate Release: March 10, 2008

Make the Most of a Small Fruit

For Immediate Release: January 29, 2008
Contact: Shannon Campbell 202-328-7744 x235
Glen Weldon 202-328-7744 x312

Make the Most of a Small Fruit

Cherries Provide Bite-Size Cancer Protection throughout the Year

WASHINGTON, DC – This February, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is encouraging the public to make the most of a fruit widely associated with both Valentine’s Day and George Washington’s birthday: the cherry.

Although the majority of the country enjoys fresh cherries during the summer months of May, June and July, frozen pitted cherries can complement poultry entrees and be used as the main ingredient in desserts throughout the year.

“The distinctive color of the cherry makes them a perfect complement to Valentine’s celebrations,” said Karen Collins, MS, RD. “And because a cherry tree plays a central role in one of the most popular tales about the father of our country, the tiny fruit can add a cheery, cherry flavor to your President’s Day – and that’s no lie.”

Unlike canned cherries preserved in thick, sugary syrup, frozen cherries are the next best thing to fresh. Frozen cherries can even make cooking with the fruit easier for consumers because they tend to be pitted, saving preparation time in the kitchen.

Science of the Cherry

AICR’s recently published report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, reaffirms that eating a variety of vegetables, fruits and other plant foods is probably protective against several kinds of cancer, including colorectal cancer.

Nine independent teams of scientists, hundreds of peer reviewers, and 21 international experts reviewed and analyzed over 7,000 large-scale studies on all aspects of cancer risk and stated that colorectal cancer “is mostly preventable by appropriate diet and associated factors.” The Panel judged that food and nutrition plays a vital role in the prevention and causation of colorectal cancers.

Additional lab studies suggest that the phytochemical anthocyanin, credited with giving cherries their notable red hue, has been recognized for its antioxidant power. When cooking or eating cherries, do not remove the skin, which contains many of a cherry’s protective substances. The same rule applies to many other vegetables and fruits such as potatoes, pears and apples.

Commonly dried, frozen or juiced, cherries are also an excellent source of beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A The tart version of these bite-size fruits actually have nearly 20 times more vitamin A than strawberries and blueberries. The nutrients don’t stop there. A good source of vitamins C and E for healthy collagen development and immunity, cherries even provide an extra boost of fiber, potassium and iron.

Recipe developers at AICR have developed two dishes that use cherries in completely different ways. The first is meant to be served with chicken, turkey or white-fleshed fish as a salsa or relish. The second combines cherries with other healthy ingredients to make a creative lattice crust pie.

Cherry Salsa

Take the opportunity to honor the first President with this spicy-sweet condiment for chicken, turkey or white-fleshed fish, also try on whole grain crackers. Tomatillos are used to spice up ethnic foods and resemble a small green tomato when removed from their paper-textured husk.

4 Tomatillios, chopped*
1 Tbsp. water
3 small scallions, green and white parts separated, thinly sliced
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon juice and pitted), chopped*
1 pinch of ground black pepper or 1/8 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 cup dark sweet cherries (frozen or fresh and pitted), chopped*

In nonstick skillet, heat tomatillios with 1 tbsp. of water for approximately 3 minutes.

Add scallion whites and cook one minute. Add lemon juice, cherries and pepper and cook additional minute. Remove from heat; add scallion greens.

Refrigerate for at least one hour.

If using with poultry or fish, bring to room temperature or reheat before serving.

*Tomatillios and cherries can be chopped (separately) in a food processor.

Makes 8 servings, 2 Tbsp. each.

Per serving: 15 calories, 0 grams of fat (0 g saturated fat), 4 g carbohydrates, 0 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 0 mg sodium.

Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust

Desserts centered around fruit are always healthier than those heavy in chocolate and sweets. Melt the heart of your Valentine with this cherry pie that takes advantage of the natural sweetness of apples too. Although this recipe calls for a store bought refrigerated pie crust, a recipe for a healthier pie crust from AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook is also included for additional nutritional benefits.

1 16-ounce bag cherries, frozen, unsweetened cherries (pitted)
3 medium Fuji or Golden Delicious apples peeled, cored and chopped (1 ¼ pounds, about 3 cups)
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 cup apple cider or frozen apple juice concentrate, separated
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
4 tsp. cornstarch
9-inch refrigerated or frozen pie crust

Combine cherries, apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves in a deep saucepan with tight-fitting lid. Add 1/3 cup of cider.

Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and cook until mixture is moist and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Mix in walnuts.

Combine cornstarch with remaining 2 tablespoons of cider in a cup. Mix into hot filling and cook until thickened, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.

Let sit until filling is warm, about 30 minutes. Filling can be made ahead, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 24 hours. Fit one pie crust into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate and turn in filling, spreading it evenly.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If filling has been chilled, bring it to room temperature.

Cut pie crust into at least 12 strips. Space 6 strips evenly over top of pie. Place 6 more strips at right angles, weaving them through to make a lattice. Trim away over-hanging crust from edge. Use remaining crust to make a border along rim of pie plate, crimping it nicely.

Brush crust with beaten egg. Sprinkle sugar on lattice crust, including edges.

Place pie on a baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. If rim of crust begins to brown, cover with strips of foil. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until lattice is golden.

Remove pie and let sit 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 283 calories, 5 grams of fat (less than 1 g saturated fat), 62 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 36 mg sodium.

New American Plate Pie Crust

¼ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 to 2 Tbsp ice water or cold apple juice

In a food processor, combine both flours, sugar and salt. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and canola oil. Pulse again until mixture is combined and resembles crumbs.

With the processor running, add the water, beginning with 1 tablespoon and adding more one teaspoon at a time until the dough comes together. Gather the dough into a ball and let it rest for a few minutes.

On a sheet of waxed paper, flatten the dough into a disk. Cover with another sheet of waxed paper and roll the dough into a 12-inch circle with a rolling pin.

Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and invert the dough over a 9-inch pie plate. Remove waxed paper and gently press the dough into the plate, pressing out air bubbles.

Crimp the edges by pinching between your thumb and forefinger.

Refrigerate the dough while preparing the filling. The dough can be covered and refrigerated overnight or tightly wrapped and frozen for up to one month.



The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $95 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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