cranberries

Cranberries are available fresh, frozen, canned, dried and in juice, so take some time to include them on your menus. If you’ve never made fresh cranberry sauce, you’ll be surprised how easy it is.

Fresh or frozen cranberries are simmered on top of the stove until they begin to pop. Don’t try this in the microwave unless you have really good control of your machine. Scrapping exploding cranberries from the sides of the microwave is not a good way to get your exercise. Season your cranberry sauce with orange juice concentrate, maple syrup, date sugar or apple juice. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, cranberry sauce can last up to two weeks.

We’ve all heard about antioxidants, sometimes called “edible protection” against disease. Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant. About 8 ounces of cranberry juice provides 130 percent of the RDA for Vitamin C. Among their many benefits, antioxidants such as Vitamin C, are thought to help to prevent heart disease. These powerful little red berries contain Vitamin C and Vitamin E, thought to help in the fight against cancer.

How about a little serenity? Serotonin is the brain’s chemical calming agent. Carbohydrates tell the brain to release serotonin. Cranberry juice fits the bill, as it is an efficient carbohydrate with very few empty calories. Cranberry juice may help your brain to produce a little more serotonin. Try some cranberry juice after a long day or your next yoga session for maximum relaxation.

Cranberries may even help your outward appearance. Not only will you have the internal glow of good health, but herbalists will tell you that cranberries help to improve the complexion.

Fresh cranberries are a bit on the tart side. Wash and chop fresh cranberries and add, sparingly, to salsas, salads, vegetable dishes, rice combinations, hot cereals or hot tea. A splash of cranberry juice can be added when cooking hot cereal, rice, grains and veggies. To sneak some nutrients into canned cranberry sauce, slice the sauce and arrange on a serving platter, garnished with fresh or dried tangerine segments, fresh mint, sliced, peeled lime and a sprinkle of fresh mint or basil.

RECIPE

Berried ginger ale Yield: 2 portions

1 cup cranberry juice (no sugar added)

¼ cup fresh, or frozen, thawed, pureed strawberries

1 teaspoon pureed fresh ginger

½ cup sparkling water

In a tall glass, mix cranberry juice, strawberries and fresh ginger and stir to combine. Pour into two glasses, add water, stir. Enjoy!

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