GateHouse News Service's weekly Food for Thought with tips on the benefits of eating cherries, how much seafood you should be eating, and the most popular kind of parsley.

If you're looking for ways to feel better and live healthier, you might want to pay attention to what's in your kitchen. 

"More and more, people are searching for delicious, natural foods that offer functional benefits, and tart cherries rise to the top in my book," said David Grotto, RD. "Science continues to support the many health benefits of tart cherries such as helping regulate natural sleep patterns, which is especially important as the CDC now considers lack of sleep a 'public health epidemic.'"

A new book from Grotto, "The Best Things You Can Eat" (Da Capo Press, January 2013), reveals some of the best foods for healthier living, including tart cherries. Recognized for their powerful nutrient profile and functional properties, tart cherries appear several times in Grotto's book, including best foods for sleep, as well as best pain-fighting foods, best foods for muscle recovery, and best fruits overall.

Available year-round in dried, frozen and juice forms, tart cherries are a versatile ingredient to include as part of any diet. Here are some delicous ways you can enjoy the best of eating red:

- Greens and Reds: Toss grilled salmon, dried cherries and a dash of turmeric with salad greens for heightened flavor and pain-fighting nutrients.

- Runner's Red Relief: Blend low-fat chocolate milk, kefir or plain yogurt and frozen cherries for a quick boost pre- or post-workout beverage.

- Spiced Red Snack Mix: Try an easy, do-it-yourself trail mix using dried cherries, ginger, cinnamon, almonds, pistachios and whole-grain cereal.

- Berry Cherry Breakfast: Swap typical berries for dried tart cherries to top cereal, oatmeal, yogurt or pancakes. 

Warm Salmon, Cherry, and Arugula Salad

Serves 4 Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes   2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon ground turmeric 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided Salt and pepper 6 cups loosely packed arugula (about 3 ounces) 1/2 small head radicchio, cored and shredded 4 salmon fillets, about 3/4-inch thick 3 shallots, sliced 1/2 large jalapeno (halved lengthwise), seeded and thinly sliced 1 1/2 cups thawed frozen tart cherries 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger 1/4 cup tart cherry juice   In large bowl, whisk together vinegar, turmeric, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add arugula and radicchio, and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste and divide mixture among serving plates. Set aside.

Season salmon with salt and pepper. In large skillet over medium-high heat, warm remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add salmon and cook until barely opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Arrange salmon on top of the salads.

Return skillet to medium heat. Add shallots and jalapeno, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cherries and ginger, and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Add cherry juice; increase heat to medium-high, and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until juice is almost entirely evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon cherry mixture over the salmon and serve.

-- Family Features

Number to Know

8: According ot the "2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans," eating about 8 ounces a week (less for young children) of a variety of seafood can help prevent heart disease. 

Tip of the Week

To get 8 ounces of seafood a week, use these as guides: A drained can of tuna is about 3 to 4 ounces, a salmon steak ranges from 4 to 6 ounces, and 1 small trout is about 3 ounces.


Easy Recipe

Norwegian Salmon in Aluminum Foil

Serves: 4

4  sheets aluminum foil (12 x 18 inches, slightly larger than yellow legal pad)
2  tablespoons canola oil
2  medium carrots, cut into thin strips
1  small leek, cut into thin slices
1  onion, cut into thin slices
1  head iceberg lettuce, cut into 8 wedges
1 1/2  pounds Norwegian Salmon fillet, boneless, skin removed, cut into 8 portions
1  tablespoon water for each package
4  tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place aluminum foil on table with shortest side facing you. All food will be placed in middle of bottom half of foil. Top half of foil will eventually be folded over food. Brush center of bottom half with oil.

Mix all vegetables and spread 1/4 of them over oil. Arrange 2 portions of salmon with vegetables. Add water. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining three sheets of foil.

To seal pouches, fold top section of foil over. Fold and squeeze edges together to form well-sealed pouch. Place packages on large baking sheet and place in preheated oven. When packages enlarge, they're ready to serve - usually after about 6 to 8 minutes.

To serve, carefully place each package on plate and open at table with pair of scissors or knife. Spoon creme fraiche or sour cream onto fish and sprinkle with lemon juice. Fresh herbs can be added before or after cooking. Eat straight from package.

-- Family Features

Food Quiz

Which type of parsley is most commonly used in Italian cooking?

A. Curly

B. Flat-leaf

C. Green-leaf

Answer at bottom of rail.

Wise to the Word

Creme fraiche: Similar to sour cream but not quite as thick, French crème fraîche is a heavy cream slightly soured with a bacterial culture. (It's much better than it sounds.)


The Dish On...

"Hello, Bento! - A Collection of Simple Japanese Bento Recipes" by Cooking Penguin

Japanese cuisine’s play on flavors and textures certainly puts that extra oomph to their meals. Not only that, it’s also recognized as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. With the emphasis on rice, fresh fish, meat and vegetables, it’s no wonder that Japanese cuisine is amazingly low in fat and calories. Not only is Japanese food delicious, it’s also quite pleasing to the eye. And nowhere is this more visible than in the ubiquitous Japanese tradition of making bento or packed lunches. This book will feature yummy and easy-to-do Japanese bento recipes as well as a few quick tips on how you can decorate them.


Food Quiz Answer

B. Flat-leaf. Otherwise known as Italian parsley, flat-leaf parsley (prezzemolo) is the most widely used fresh herb in Italian cooking. Its curly-leafed cousin is not considered a worthy substitute and is only used as garnish. Fresh flat-leaf parsley can grace everything from meatballs to pasta sauces and salads.


GateHouse News Service