If you only think of cranberries as a relish or sauce to go with turkey during the holidays, you’re missing out on one of the healthiest and most versatile ingredients to enjoy all year round!
Whether you use fresh cranberries or dried, both provide flavonoid antioxidants that have myriad health benefits. One cup fresh or ½ cup of dried cranberries equals a fruit serving and they’re a good source of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.
Here are five reasons why you should enjoy the crimson berries 12 months a year:
1. Berries are Nutrient- and Antioxidant-Rich
Colorful berries—strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cranberries—are considered some of the most nutrient-rich foods in the entire food supply. They provide traditional nutrients like vitamin C, but they are all-stars when it comes to their antioxidant capacity. Since antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals, which damage our cells and DNA, they can help prevent certain chronic diseases and may help mitigate some of the effects that naturally occur as we age.
2. Cranberries Provide Unique Urinary Tract Benefits
Hundreds of studies show that regular consumption of cranberry juice or cranberry products is associated with a reduction in risk for urinary tract infections. This is thought to be due to the type of polyphenols in cranberries that prevent E. coli bacteria for sticking to the surface of the cells in the urinary tract. The specific polyphenols in cranberries are structurally different than those found in other foods, which is why cranberries are essential. Drinking a cup of cranberry juice or having a serving of dried cranberries daily is sufficient to help reduce your risk.
3. Cranberries are a Tasty Complement to Your Dishes
Dried cranberries are a great addition to your recipes—from appetizers to desserts. They’re easily added to oatmeal or yogurt; go great with grain side dishes, casseroles, on top of salads, in wraps, or baked goods.
4. Cranberries are Good for Your Mouth and Stomach
This may be surprising, but there are several scientific papers on the role of cranberries and oral health. Studies show that the unique anti-bacterial properties that help prevent against UTIs, also help prevent bacterial adherence in your mouth and stomach. This may help protect against cavities, periodontal disease and stomach ulcers. Who knew?
5. Cranberries are Heart-Smart
Cranberries also provide the same heart-smart flavonoids that are commonly found in red wine and grapes. These bioactive natural plant compounds help reduce risk for cardiovascular disease by helping to reduce inflammation and inhibiting low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-oxidation and boosting the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) Cranberries also help relax blood vessels to improve blood pressure.
Dried Cranberry Recipes
Serve on butter lettuce leaves for a simple salad, in a tomato that has been cut open for a stuffed tomato, or on whole grain bread for a chicken salad sandwich.
- 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast meat
- ½ cup sweetened, dried cranberries, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- ½ cup bottled poppy seed dressing
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped tarragon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Poach about 1.5 lbs of boneless/ skinless chicken breasts in a quart of salted (1 teaspoon) water, for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from water, let cool, and then chop the meat into small chunks
- In a small mixing bowl combine chicken with other ingredients. Adjust seasoning and serve.
190 calories; 41 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram fiber; 16 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat
These are wonderfully chewy cookies. This recipe can be doubled without a problem.
- 1 1/2 cup flour (all purpose flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
- 1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups dried cranberries
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and then stir in the oats.
- In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time and then scrape down the sides of the bowl; add the honey and vanilla and beat until blended. Add the flour mixture in two additions, beating until well combined. Stir in the cranberries and walnuts.
- Drop the dough by the heaping tablespoonful about 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets. Bake until the centers of the cookies are soft and no longer look wet, 9 to 11 minutes. Let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
3 1/2 dozen cookies
- 2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
- ½ cup sweetened, dried cranberries
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 ½ pounds bone-in chicken thighs or breasts, skin removed
- 2 tablespoons diced shallots
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ cup julienned carrots
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish
- Stir cranberry juice, cranberries, ginger and garlic in large bowl until blended. Add chicken, cover, and marinate in refrigerator 1 to 2 hours. Remove chicken from marinade and season with salt and pepper. Reserve marinade.
- Melt butter in medium saucepan. Add shallots and sauté over medium heat until transparent. Add reserved marinade and bring to a boil, uncovered. Decrease heat to low and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced in half. Add carrots last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Grill chicken over medium-high heat 4 to 6 minutes per side until juices run clear when pierced with a fork or chicken reaches internal temperature of 165°F.
- Place grilled chicken on a large serving platter, drizzle with reduced marinade, and garnish with chopped chives. Serve with seasonal vegetables and a whole grain side dish like brown rice or quinoa.