For every season there is a berry and during the holidays, nature gives us the cranberry.
As with other berries, cranberries pack big health benefits in a tiny, perfect package. Most of us are familiar with cranberry’s role in promoting urinary tract health, but emerging research suggests that cranberries also are good for heart health, digestive system and boosting immunity.
Cranberries have naturally occurring antioxidants called proanthocyanidins (these give cranberries that red, jewel color) and polyphenols. Together these antioxidants create an “anti-stick” power which prevents bad bacteria from sticking inside the stomach, mouth, teeth and urinary tract. Thus, preventing H. pylori in the stomach, plague and gingivitis in the mouth, teeth and gums, and urinary tract infections. Since most of our immune system resides in our gut, the “anti-stick” mechanism that cranberries gives helps to flush out the cold and flu germs.
Below are two festive cranberry recipes to try while the fruit is in season.
Baby Kale, Cranberry and Walnut Salad
1 (5 oz.) package organic baby kale mix
1 sweet apple, cored & diced
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup julienned red onion
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons apple cider
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1. For vinaigrette - In a small bowl, combine vinegar, cider, honey and Dijon mustard; whisk in olive oil until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Alternative: place all ingredients in a jar and shake to create an emulsion.
2. In a large bowl toss baby kale, apple, walnuts, cranberries and red onion. Slowly drizzle enough vinaigrette over the salad mix to lightly coat; toss and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Nutrition per serving: 210 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 21 g sugar, 3 g protein. Vitamin A 70 percent, Vitamin C 80 percent, calcium 8 percent, iron 6 percent.
Recipe from Chef Andrew, Ankeny 1 Hy-Vee
Cranberry Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed and seeded
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cranberry sauce
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 (8-ounce each) packages light cream cheese, softened
1. In a food processor, chop cranberries and jalapeno pepper to a fine dice. Add sugar, cranberry sauce, orange juice, orange zest, onion, cumin and salt. Pulse to combine. Pour mixture in bowl, cover and place in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight.
2. Spread softened cream cheese onto a large rimmed dish or 9-inch pie plate. Top cream cheese with cranberry and jalapeno mixture. Cover and place in refrigerator 2 hours.
Serve with crackers.
Nutrition facts per serving: 110 calories, 6 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 105 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 2 g protein. Vitamin A 0 percent, Vitamin C 8 percent, Calcium 2 percent, Iron 0 percent.
Source: Hy-Vee dietitians