Cranberries: Tart and Tasty Treats

When it's November, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. As you enjoy your holiday meal, don't let cranberries be an after thought. At this time, put these nutrition powerhouses in the spotlight and say, "Thank you cranberries!" for all the health benefits they bring.

Cranberries are full of compounds that can benefit health. They offer vitamins, potassium, and fiber. Cranberries also contain "phytochemicals," naturally occurring plant chemicals. These helpful plant chemicals help our health in many ways.

Cranberries' effects on health have been realized for a long time. Native Americans used cranberries to treat illnesses. Today, cranberries have been shown to promote urinary tract health, a healthy heart, healthy teeth and gums, and even may help prevent stomach ulcers. Cranberries also help fight cancer. Research has shown that cranberries may be beneficial in preventing the beginning stages of cancer and in slowing tumor development. Include cranberries as part of your five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables to help fight cancer

Cranberries not only benefit health, they are also delicious. Their tart flavor makes a great filling for turkey, chicken, or cooked squash or pumpkin halves. Spice them up with cinnamon and nutmeg and put them in your favorite muffin or quick bread recipe. Pair them with something sweet, such as apples, raisins or raspberries and enjoy them as a topping for frozen yogurt or crumble filling. Melt canned cranberry jelly with a few chocolate chips and serve over waffles or French toast. Sprinkle dried cranberries, also called "craisins," over a spinach salad. Enjoy cranberry juice cold or heated. Try this month's recipes for inspiration on cooking with cranberries.

Helpful Hints

  • Buy bagged whole cranberries when they are plentiful, and keep them in your freezer to use year-round. At other times of the year, it is more difficult to find whole cranberries in the supermarket.
  • Boil whole cranberries in water until they make a "pop" sound before putting them into recipes. Chop them in a blender or food processor if desired, or look for canned chopped cranberries.
  • Cranberry juice is most often mixed with another juice, such as apple, grape or other. These juices, although usually only about one-fourth to one-third cranberry juice, are still healthy. One hundred percent cranberry juice would be much too tart to enjoy drinking.

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