SOURCE: Cherry Marketing Institute

December 13, 2010 05:00 ET

Cherries -- The New Holiday Super Fruit

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - December 13, 2010) - (Family Features) Our traditions during the holiday season are comforting and familiar, but this year, try a modern take on the traditional with simple swaps in decorations, gift giving and holiday recipes.

For example, the addition of red tart cherries to your holiday meals can power up recipes with flavor and nutrition. Cherries are one of America's super fruits, available all year-round in dried, frozen and juice forms. With their sweet and slightly tart flavor, they are sure to bring a new twist to some of your favorite holiday dishes.

Start with your family breakfast, and add some dried cherries to your scones or in your oatmeal. For a sweet and savory spin, try topping off the holiday dinner with a Cherry Butternut Squash. For a late evening treat, try a hot mulled apple cider with a splash of cherry juice to add a punch of antioxidants to this seasonal favorite.

Not only are cherries great-tasting, but they're linked to a multitude of potential health benefits. Recent studies reveal that tart cherries are packed with powerful antioxidants that may be beneficial for risk factors for heart disease, arthritis and post-workout pain. The festive bright red color of cherries comes from antioxidants called anthocyanins, which are also the key to the fruit's anti-inflammatory properties.

Adding cherries to your holiday spread is sure to be a lip-smacking good decision. With a vibrant color, distinct taste and nutritious qualities, they're guaranteed to spread some cheer this season.
For more information on the benefits of cherries and how you can swap them in some of your favorite holiday recipes, visit

Cherry Butternut Squash
Makes 8 (1/2 cup) servings

4   cups cubed (1 inch chunks) peeled butternut squash (1 small squash about 1-1/4 pounds)
3/4   cup dried cherries
1/2   cup boiling water
1   small onion, cut into thin wedges
2   tablespoons unsalted butter
2   tablespoons maple syrup
1/4   teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 375°F. Spread squash in a single layer on a greased or sprayed 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan or shallow roasting pan. Bake 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine cherries and boiling water; set aside to plump.

Add onion wedges to pan with squash. Drizzle butter over vegetables; toss well. Bake 10 minutes. Drain cherries; add to pan. Drizzle syrup over vegetables; toss well. Continue baking 5 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and glazed. Sprinkle with salt.
 Tip: to cut preparation time, look for 18 ounce packages of peeled, diced butternut squash at grocery stores and supermarkets.