Ready in 2 minutes flat, this microwaveable tart cherry oatmeal recipe is delicious and healthy, packing a big antioxidant punch. And it may even improve your sleep! Thank you to the Cherry Marketing Institute for sponsoring this post.
As part of my partnership with the Cherry Marketing Institute, this month they tasked me with something little different: their Tart Cherry Juice Sleep Challenge! For 14 days, I was to drink one serving of tart cherry juice (8 ounces/1 cup) or tart cherry juice concentrate (2 tablespoons) in the morning and another in the evening to find out if it helped me sleep better. Interesting, right? I was curious to see if it made a difference!
Why would tart cherry juice help me to sleep, you ask? Well, tart cherries are actually one of the few natural sources of melatonin, which is responsible for regulation of the body’s internal clock and sleep-wake cycle. Research has shown that tart cherry juice may help improve the duration of sleep, reduce the severity of insomnia, and increase overall sleep quality (time asleep vs. time in bed). You can read more about the research findings over on the tart cherry website.
As we all know, sleep is extremely important for recovery from workouts and for overall health. In fact, sleep disturbance is considered an important risk factor for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems. Did you know that Americans spend more than $84 million on over-the-counter sleep aids each year? Yikes.
As a dietitian, I know that sleep is also necessary in our attempts to eat healthy. Lack of sleep upregulates a hormone called ghrelin that makes us hungry, which is why it often seems like we are ravenous (and usually ravenous for sugar) if we are overtired.
Bottom line – I’m fully on board for any way we can naturally improve the quality/duration of our sleep. For this challenge, in the evenings I usually drank the tart cherry juice (or concentrate mixed with a little water) straight; Matt and I also discovered it’s really good mixed with our fave ginger kombucha. As for my morning tart cherry juice consumption, I usually got a little more creative. I threw it into post-run recovery smoothies some days, and also discovered that it’s really delicious in oatmeal.
It gives the oatmeal a really nice tart, juicy flavor – and a cool reddish purple color, too. Fun!
My readers who don’t like bananas will especially enjoy this oatmeal recipe, as it’s banana free unlike all my other oatmeal recipes. Dairy free, too, and made in the microwave so it’s ready in 2 minutes flat! Feel free to get creative with the toppings as well.
Before I share the recipe, back to the challenge. The big question: did I see any results?
Actually, yes, I did! I went into this challenge super skeptical, but low and behold, I actually found that I started falling asleep noticeably faster after a couple days of the tart cherry juice. I don’t normally take long to fall asleep, but I felt like it was suddenly happening the second I hit my pillow! In terms of whether I saw a difference in sleep quality/how often I woke up, I would need to try this challenge without a cat. 😉 So no comment there, thanks to my fluffy early morning alarm clock! I wonder if cats can drink tart cherry juice… (kidding).
Bottom line: you have nothing to lose by adding some tart cherry juice to your routine. In addition to potentially helping with your sleep, it also packs some great antioxidants and inflammation-busting anthocyanins, which help with recovery from workouts. And it’s delicious, too. So – eat/drink up! Starting with this recipe. Enjoy!