Robin’s Healthy Take: Crazy for Cranberries

by in Robin's Healthy Take, December 9, 2010

dried cranberries

For me, the holidays have officially arrived when fresh cranberries hit the produce department. The canned, dried and juiced versions are available year-round, but the fresh berries charm store shelves in late fall and early winter. These nutritional powerhouses aren’t just for cranberry sauce — here are my favorite ways to use them.

The Nutrition Facts
These tiny berries pack a nutritional punch. They contain elements that prevent bacteria from adhering to our urinary tract, thus preventing infection. Cranberries are also brimming with antioxidants, which are compounds that neutralize free radicals in the body. What does that mean for you? Free radicals harm the body’s cells. We’re exposed to them every day (in the food we eat, sunlight, tobacco smoke, pollution and toxins around us), so we need antioxidants to protect our cells, promote health and longevity and prevent lots of diseases.

What to Do With Cranberries
There are tons of applications for cranberries, from chutneys to baked goods. Here are some easy ways to use them:

Turn them into chutney. Simmer 2 cups fresh cranberries with 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup diced red onion, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon cumin. Simmer until the cranberries break and the sauce thickens. Pair with chicken, pork or a platter of cheese and crackers.

Make fresh relish. In a food processor, combine 4 cups cranberries, one 11-ounce can mandarin oranges in light syrup (undrained), 1/2 cup sugar and a punch of freshly ground black pepper. Process until finely chopped and pair with chicken, pork, fish and shellfish.

Bake cranberry-studded pies. I also love pie (who doesn’t?), and when fresh cranberries are in season, I fold the gems into my apple pie for added color and flavor (I also add a little extra sugar since cranberries are tart). Cranberries and nuts pair really well, so when I add them to my apple pie, I leave off the top crust and finish the pie with walnut or pecan pieces instead.

Additional ideas for dried and canned cranberries:
• Fold dried cranberries into your favorite quick breads (like zucchini and banana), scones and oatmeal cookies.
• Use canned sauce (jelled or whole berry) as the base for delicious vinaigrettes for mixed greens.
• Add dried cranberries to savory stuffing and dressings for chicken and turkey.
• Make a warm cranberry-Dijon sauce for baked ham. To make, combine whole berry sauce with Dijon mustard and bring to a simmer.

Now how about YOU? Got a favorite cranberry recipe? I’d LOVE to hear it!!!

Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.

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Comments (13)

  1. feastonthecheap says:

    YES! I totally agree, as soon as cranberries hit the grocery aisles, I know we're in the holiday homestretch. Cranberry Chutney is definitely one of my faves (and so totally not just a Thanksgiving side). Cranberry Nut Bread is another great one. I had a ton leftover from a recent Costco run so I also created a cran-tastic spin on Applesauce. Or rather, pear sauce, since I also had a ton of those too…

  2. SusieBeeonMaui says:

    I do like cranberry in quick breads. My favorite new recipe thought is my version of Nantucket Cranberry Pie (which is a cake).
    http://eatlittleeatbig.blogspot.com/2010/11/recip

  3. [...] Read the original here: Robin’s Healthy Take: Crazy for Cranberries [...]

  4. Cranberry chutney sounds like an excellent idea, and very holiday like. I just made cheddar basil crackers that would be perfect with cranberry chutney!! I wish I would have thought of that. http://veggietestkitchen.com/?p=219

  5. [...] Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog [expanded by feedex.net] Posted in Healthy Eating [...]

  6. [...] Read the original here: Robin’s Healthy Take: Crazy for Cranberries [...]

  7. Jen says:

    I have to say that my current favorite cranberry food is Jello, thats right, jello. My mom makes a jello mold at Thanksgiving that has cranberry juice in place of the water and is full of cranberries, walnuts, and apples that have been finely chopped in the food processor. My favorite version starts with strawberry jello. Mmm…I might have to make some now.

  8. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.Keep working ,great job!

  9. That’s Too nice, when it comes in india hope it can make a Rocking place for youngster.. hope that come true.

  10. Hey there! Where did you get design of your blog? It is pretty amazing ;)

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