Loving the BITE: Chocolate Cherry Smoothie


Do you feel that? The feeling of sore knees or ankles? I feel it. My ankles hurt a bit more this time of year because I’m “skinning” uphill at least a couple times per week with skis pulling on my ligaments and joints (there’s something about weight on your feet that gets those ankles!). And with many athletes training on their bikes year round , I hear the cries of chronic knee overuse and pain. I get emails about painful joints, gout, and inflammation.  And, while nutrition isn’t the entire answer for joint pain, many functional foods can certainly help.

This week, we’ll take a look at cherries and cherry juice, how it may help your joints, and my favorite way to add it to your diet…

Recipe of the week: Spiced Chocolate Cherry Anti-Inflammatory Smoothiechoccherry2


  • 1 cup black/tart cherries or 4 ounces black cherry juice (use cherry juice if you actively have gout or sore joints)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger or 1 inches whole ginger root
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1.5 tsp cacao powder
  • 4″ banana banana
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup organic plain yogurt OR 1 scoop favorite protein powder
  • 1/2 medium beet, peeled and chopped


Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smoothie. Add water as needed.


This is another recipe overflowing with nourishing ingredients. If you have the feeling that I first begin a recipe with the foods I want to include, for both taste and nourishment, and then worry about taste, you’re right. There’s sometimes a lot of trial and error, and with this one in particular, I anticipated that I had just gone too far. Really? 3-4 spices? Maybe just stick with ginger? Add a little honey? But I was wrong. The taste is quite nice. We’re going big.

But how does this help your joints? We’ll start with the joint juice.

If you’re a cyclist with gout or arthritis, the reason you should add cherry juice or cherries is quite simple…reduced pain and flare-ups.  There are many studies that have confirmed it’s role in reducing both.  And, while these studies have not always been conclusive, they are also supported by a huge heap of anecdotal evidence in which long-time arthritis and gout sufferers have finally found relief after years of trying medications.  Here’s more on black cherry juice, gout, achy joint relief.

Cherries, Ginger, and Inflammation:  You can deter your bodies’ state of inflammation in two key ways.  One, you can give it nutritional agents and antioxidants that work directly at the cellular and tissue level to ease inflammation and promote healing (these agents are often used in Eastern medicine and can reduce inflammation and acidity of fluid within joints).  Example of these nutrients are anthocynins in cherries, curcumin found in turmeric, eugenol found in cloves, and gingerols found in ginger.

And two, you can increase the production of anti-inflammatory hormones by increasing omega-3s in your diet while decreasing omega-6 intake.  Primarily, omega-3 fats from fish have strong anti-inflammatory effects.  Secondarily, those from flax, chia, hemp, and walnuts can play a role.  Increase your intake of these fats from whole foods forms and fish oil supplements.

To decrease omega-3s adversary, omega-6s: 1) Avoid soybean oil (like the plague) in commercial salad dressings, condiments, and products (it’s in many, many commercial products).  Instead, you want avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.  This may mean you have to make your own dressings.  And 2) When cooking, there are really only a handful of oils I recommend:  These all have 2 grams of omega-6s fats or less per Tablespoon, and are (grams/Tbsp listed): organic coconut oil (0.4), avocado oil (1.8), high-oleic sunflower (0.5) or safflower oils (2.0) (these are specifically “bred” and grown to produce more omega-9s and less omega-6s – they will be labeled as high-oleic), and at lower temperature, extra virgin olive oil (1.3).  And the ones I don’t recommend for cooking in order from worst to less worse, with grams of omega-6 linoleic acids per one Tablespoon (15 gm): safflower oil (10.1 gm), grapeseed oil (9.5), vegetable (7.9), wheat germ (7.5), corn oil (7.3), walnut (7.3), cottonseed (7.0), soybean (7.0), and sunflower (5.4), canola oil (3.0).<=15 gm carbs).

Pain: Next, some nutritional components actually have an effect on pain.  The primary anti-pain ingredients in this smoothie are ginger and cherry juice.  In two recent studies, 75% of joint pain sufferers, and 100% of muscle pain sufferers, have found relief with consistent daily intake of ginger.  These new studies build off the hundreds of years and dozens of studies to support ginger’s anti-pain attributes.  As for cherry juice, studies by the USDA, university, and independent researchers have shown a reduction in pain in arthritic subjects time after time, but no mechanism has been determined.  If it works, maybe that’s enough…in my humble opinion, our bodies are far too complex and wonderous, and real foods too uniquely therapeutic to understand how and why it all works.

Antioxidants and Cherries:  As you know, antioxidants fight the free radicals that work in your body to cause damage to your cells.  These free radicals abound with injury and inflammation, and athletes are especially prone to a build-up if antioxidants aren’t consumed regularly.  Our Anti-Inflammatory Tea is brimming with antioxidants from cherries, every spice included, beets, Vitamin C in the vinegar, and potent nutrients from green tea.

Hydration: When working with clients with gout, especially cyclists and other endurance athletes, I’ve noticed a prominent trend…flare-ups and attacks often occur when the athlete becomes dehydrated.  It makes sense…fluids help flush out the uric acid in the body, and it seems to concentrate if there isn’t enough fluid due to hydration…so, drink water and fluids every day, all day and add 18-32 oz. fluid for every hour you workout.  Although I have not seen this link with arthritis, proper hydration is good for all cyclists.

If you’re looking for Black Cherry Juice, always look for 100% cherry juice without added sugars or other fruit juices added (it will naturally have some sugar from the fruit).   A good product, and a good price can be found here.

To summarize, you can reduce your achy joint pain and gout by:

  • Consuming anti-inflammatory, joint-pain-relieving foods like ginger, cherries and cherry juice, and turmeric
  • Choosing healthful omega-3 or omega-9 fats and avoiding high-omega-6 fats in commercial condiments & when cooking
  • Taking 1000mg+ DHA/EPA from fish or fish oil supplements each day
  • Staying properly hydrated
  • Loading up on antioxidants from green teas, spices, and dark fruits (like cherries)

And, you can accomplish all of the above (with the exception of the fish oil) with my smoothie.  Joints are a vital part of the endurance athlete equation.  Keep yours healthy this week, and keep turning the pedals and miles for many seasons to come.

Fuel Your Ride.  Nourish Your Body.

If you’d like to work with Kelli one-on-one with a Custom Nutrition Plan & Coaching, or download one of her acclaimed Instant Download Plans like Fuel Right Race Light, click here: Apex Nutrition Plans for Endurance Athletes. Be sure to use coupon code lovingthebike for a 15% discount!

Enjoy Your Ride
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    February 2023
    M T W T F S S


Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.


Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

Sports Drink Homebrew

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

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