Healthy Living Blog

Locally Grown Supports Heart Health

Tina Miller, MS RDN, Meijer Healthy Living Advisor

It’s February and it’s cold, snowy and it’s also heart health month.  Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S.  Changes in diet and activity can go a long way in helping to keep your heart healthy.  A good place to start is simply eating more fruits and vegetables, especially deeply hued produce that’s packed with heart-healthy compounds.

But, how does locally grown-in Michigan—in February-help your heart?  The answer is Michigan Tart Cherries.  Research continues to reveal many of the health benefits of the Michigan grown Montmorency tart cherry.  The rich red color of tart cherries is attributed to compounds known as anthocyanins.  These compounds have also been found to provide significant health benefits, including:

Love your heart with a daily dose of delightful cherries:

  • Top off salads, yogurt, oatmeal or a slice peanut butter toast with dried cherries.
  • Use frozen tart cherries (without added sugar) in smoothies, overnight oats, to create delicious sauces for chicken, fish or pork and to create homemade better-for-you desserts such as cherry crisp (yum!)
  • Add tart cherry juice to apple juice or sparkling water for a flavorful twist, blend a couple tablespoons in a smoothie, or use to create a delicious salad dressing. Since tart-cherries are an excellent source of anti-inflammatory compounds your heart…and achy joints…with benefit.


Cherry Picked Recipes for Heart Month:

Tropical Cherry-Almond Smoothie

Serves: 2


2 tablespoon Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate, to taste

1 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

2 cups frozen tropical fruit medley (pineapple, mango, strawberry)

Optional Ingredients: 1/2 banana, 1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds, and/or 2 teaspoons ground Flax Seed



  1. Place 1 cup almond milk, 1 tablespoon of Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate, frozen tropical medley and optional add-ins (banana, chia or ground flax seed) in a blender in order listed. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add more almond milk until mixture reaches desired consistency. Add more Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate to taste. Serve immediately.


Recipe source:


Kale Quinoa Montmorency Tart Cherry Salad with Salmon

Serves 4

Salad Ingredients

1 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash (shortcut: use pre-cut from Meijer produce section, or frozen cubes)

2 teaspoons True Goodness by Meijer Organic extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon ground sage)


2-7 ounce salmon filets (shortcut:  Canned or “pouch” salmon may be substituted—omit olive oil and lemon)

1 teaspoon True Goodness by Meijer Organic extra virgin olive oil

4 lemon slices


5 ounces Baby Kale leaves

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 cup dried Montmorency tart cherries

1/4 cup toasted True Goodness by Meijer Walnuts


Dressing Ingredients:


1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons Montmorency tart cherry concentrate

2 tablespoons True Goodness by Meijer Organic extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons shallot, minced (or finely diced sweet onion)

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons True Goodness by Meijer Organic honey

Salt and pepper to taste



Make Butternut Squash and Salmon:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Toss butternut squash with olive oil, rubbed sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread on parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes or until squash is tender and beginning to caramelize on edges.
  3. Place Salmon, skin side down, in small baking dish or foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place lemon slices on top of filets. Roast for 15 minutes or until just opaque. Allow salmon to cool slightly before removing skin. Use fork to flake fish into chunks.

Make Salad Dressing:

  1. While butternut squash and salmon are cooking, mix salad dressing ingredients in a bowl, liquid measuring cup, or jar with lid. Whisk or shake salad dressing until well combined. Set aside.

Assemble Salad:

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions, set-aside to cool.
  2. Place chopped kale in a large bowl. Toss baby kale with half of the salad dressing.
  3. Add quinoa, dried Montmorency Cherries, toasted walnuts, and butternut squash to the kale.
  4. Drizzle with remaining dressing and stir to combine. Gently fold in salmon and serve.

Recipe adapted from and photo source: