When you think of holiday dinners, does a jiggling tower of red cranberry sauce come to mind? Weird stuff that sauce. Yet Ocean Spray makes 70 million cans of it. Don’t you think there are better things to do with one of the world’s healthiest foods?
Me, too. So keep reading, and I’ll share a cranberry salsa recipe from my home state of Alaska. I’ll also share things about cranberries that might surprise and shock you.
1.The first energy bar
Back in 1663, the Pilgrim cookbook included a recipe for cranberry sauce. Cranberry anything was not new to Native Americans. They used cranberries as a fabric dye and for food and medicine. They mixed cranberries with venison, fat, onions, to make pemmican. The first Clif Bar?
2. Tart is smart
Ever eaten a raw, cranberries? Their tartness is exceeded only by lemons and limes. Tart keeps cranberries from spoiling in damp climates. It also keeps us from eating them straight!
3. Fruit fights
Cranberries (Oxycoccus species) are one of the world’s healthiest foods. They contain fiber, vitamin E, vitamin C, and a broad assortment of minerals and B vitamins. Cranberries also contain a high content of phenolic compounds. An odd word, isn’t it? Many phenolic compounds are anti-microbial, which also protect them from spoiling.
Hello? Did I catch you yawning? Wait until you read this…
The real magic is found in the red of cranberries, red cabbage, and red onions. And the blue in blueberries, plums, and grapes. These pigments, called anthocyanins, suppress the growth of human liver cancer cells. (I’ll share a list of resources at the end).
If you don’t believe me, watch this video. You’ll see how cranberries beat out many common fruits against other cancers: Brain, colon, lung, ovary, prostate, and stomach.
4. Cranberry juice nutrition
Cranberries have been called the world’s healthiest food. Unfortunately, 95 percent of cranberries becomes processed foods. Why is that a problem?
Here’s an example: To get the same amount of anthocyanins in a cup of fresh or frozen berries, you’d have to drink 16 cups of cranberry juice cocktail.
The solution? It’s always better to EAT THE WHOLE FRUIT. And just so you’re not left hanging, here’s a cranberry juice recipe to do just that:
Pink juice: Natural cranberry juice recipe
Created by Dr. Michael Greger, MD (See the reading list below)
I’ll share a cranberry salsa recipe from my home state of Alaska. I’ll also share some surprising things about cranberries.
- Only 12 calories
- 25 times fewer calories and 8 times more phytonutrients than cranberry cocktail
A handful of fresh or frozen cranberries
2 cups water
3 TBL date sugar, maple syrup or other sweeteners
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend at high speed. Pour over ice and serve.
Watch this video that compares fruit juices:
5. Cranberries and UTI (Urinary Tract Infections)
Every year, UTI affects ten million women. Some 70 studies have shown that cranberries help reduce UTIs. But what causes UTI in the first place?
Chicken? Can this be true?
McGill University researchers tracked down the culprit: E. coliform handling raw chicken. Bacteria from chicken feces. We’re talking Salmonella and Campylobacter, serious human pathogens.
I’d say a vegan or vegetarian diet doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
6. How to brighten your smile
If anthocyanins reduce bacterial infections, they can also brighten your smile. Because the bacteria we’re talking about causes plaque, cavities, and gum disease. Cranberry toothpaste, anyone?
7. The cranberry jalapeno salsa recipe that will knock your socks off!
As promised, here is the recipe for fresh cranberry-ginger salsa. It won the side dish category in the Anchorage Daily News holiday recipe contest.
“What’s brilliant about this cranberry salsa is that it goes well with almost everything,” says food writer Julia O’Malley. (I’m here to tell you that a spoonful is delicious on a warm tortilla or tossed in a quinoa salad).
Fresh cranberry-ginger salsa
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
4 to 6 green onions, sliced
2 jalapeños, stems removed (and seeds, if desired)
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
2 TBL fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 to 2 TBL sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Rinse cranberries. Discard any mushy or bruised berries. Place in a food processor; pulse a few times until cranberries are chopped but not puréed. Tip cranberries into a bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Toss to combine. Let sit 10 minutes. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to three days. Makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups.
8. A tidbit about cranberries that you’ll LOVE
Did you know that John Lennon repeated the words “cranberry sauce” at the end of the song, “Strawberry Fields Forever”?
It’s true. I’ll bet my last cranberries on it.
Thanks for stopping by.
If you’d like to read more articles like this, sign up for my newsletter, “Goodness from Kodiak.”
P.S. What is YOUR favorite cranberry recipe? Leave me a message below.
Further reading for you:
Best nutrition website: NutritionFacts.org
The only non-commercial, nonprofit, science-based website to provide free daily updates on the latest in evidence-based nutrition. There are videos on more than 2,000 health topics with new videos and articles uploaded every day.
From my blog, some thoughts on Healthy cooking and plant-based recipes
Blog: “How Alaska Eats” via the Anchorage Daily News
Bestseller: How Not to Die, New York Times bestseller by Dr. Michael Greger, MD
Book: On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, by Harold McGee
Website: Dreena Burton: Trusted whole foods vegan recipes
New Yorker article: The Great Cranberry Scare of 1959. (Hint: It mentions Rachael Carson)
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Marion Owen is a “Jill of all trades,” with 30 years of experience as a teacher and columnist. She’s on a mission to help busy people enhance their daily lives, condensing topics such as photography, cooking, and organic gardening into bite-size pieces. Get her free 4-page “In Good Light: Photo Tips for Busy People” and feel newly recharged when taking pictures.