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Archive for November 20th, 2012

cranberries

cranberries (Photo credit: Anne Davis)

While turkey and dressing tantalize taste buds, festive tables catch the eyes with a glimmer of cranberries that sparkle like crown jewels. Can you imagine Thanksgiving dinner without their tangy taste?  Choose the jellied form slipped from a can, make whole-berry sauce from fresh berries, or use endless combinations in appetizers to desserts.

Cranberries are one of three fruits native to North America. Native Americans used cranberries long before Pilgrims arrived. We don’t know if the first Thanksgiving menu included cranberries, but it’s a good possibility since they were prolific in the area. When German and Dutch immigrants arrived on our shores, they called this red fruit “crane berries” because the flower resembled the head and bill of a crane.

Although now available all year, Americans consume 20 percent during Thanksgiving week of the 400 million pounds of cranberries used annually.

Cranberries are nutritious and great as part of a healthy diet. They are rich sources of antioxidants and fiber with negligible amounts of fat or sodium. Early sailors ate cranberries to prevent scurvy which we now know was because of its vitamin C content.

Many believe that cranberry juice improves unitary track infection (UTI). Two recent (2012) studies refute the benefits. One study concluded that some cranberry products may help protect against UTI, but they were ineffective in improving the condition. The second study determined that UTI responded better to antibiotics than cranberries.

Regardless, enjoy the tasty, nutritious berries again this holiday season. For a change of pace, try this versatile fruit in new ways. Below is a family favorite. Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

CRANBERRY ORANGE MOLD

1                      (6 ounce) package orange flavored gelatin

2                      cups hot water

1 1/2                cups pineapple juice/water

1                      (14 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce

1                      (15 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

1/2                   cup pecans, chopped

2                      teaspoons orange zest, optional

Dissolve flavored gelatin in hot water. Add cranberries and mix. Drain pineapple. Add cold water to drained juice to make 1 1/2 cups. Add to gelatin mixture. Chill until consistency of egg whites. Add orange zest, pecans, and pineapple. Pour into a ring mold lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

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