(Family Features) Eating with heart health on your mind has never tasted so good. While many aspects of life can impact heart health, opting for nutritious foods plays an especially important role.

“Heart-healthy eating can be delicious and on-trend with vibrant colors and sweet-tart flavors. There are simple ways to add nutrient-rich ingredients to your favorite recipes that add depth of flavor and texture, too,” said Michelle Dudash, registered dietitian. “Packed with beneficial phytonutrients, including anthocyanins, research shows Montmorency tart cherries may help lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, reduce inflammation and reduce belly fat – all factors linked to heart disease risk.”

Start the day off by blending frozen tart cherries into a Tart Cherry Granola Smoothie Bowl or incorporating dried tart cherries into your favorite trail mix when it’s time for a snack. This heart-healthy, ruby-red fruit has a distinct sweet-tart taste that makes an easy addition to a variety of dishes and is available year-round in dried, frozen, juice and concentrate forms.

To learn more about the health benefits of Montmorency tart cherries and find more delicious recipes, visit ChooseCherries.com.

Tart Cherry Granola Smoothie Bowls

Recipe courtesy of Sonja Overhiser of A Couple Cooks on behalf of the Cherry Marketing Institute

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Servings: 2

Granola:

  • 1/4       cup olive oil
  • 1/2       cup maple syrup
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3          cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4       teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2       teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1          cup sliced almonds
  • 1          cup dried Montmorency tart cherries
  • 1/2       cup pepitas

Smoothie Bowl:

  • 2 1/2    cups frozen Montmorency tart cherries
  • 2          tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 1 1/2    tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1          ripe banana
  • 1          cup almond milk, plus additional (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 325° F.
  2. In small bowl, whisk together olive oil, maple syrup and vanilla.
  3. In separate bowl, stir together oats, salt, cinnamon and almonds. Pour in mixture. Bake about 45 minutes until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes and watching carefully near end of baking, stirring more, if necessary.
  4. Roughly chop dried cherries.
  5. When granola is baked, cool slightly then stir in cherries and pepitas.

Note: Granola can be stored in air-tight container up to 1 month.

To make smoothie bowl: Blend together tart cherries, lemon juice, maple syrup, banana and almond milk. If necessary, add additional milk for a smoother consistency.

Serve smoothie in bowl with 1/4 cup tart cherry granola.

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