Who Gives a Cranberry?

Why I do, and you should too.

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I know what you’re thinking right now… Cranberries are gross! And I agree with you. That gelatinous cylindrical mass that you may think of as cranberry sauce is gross. I would rather eat my own shoe than let that stuff touch any part of my body. I think the only reasonable use for it could be removing oil stains from my the driveway. But I am not here to regale you with the cleaning properties of canned cranberry sauce. What I am here to do is fill you in on just how great real cranberries are, both nutritionally and culinarily.

We all know that cranberries are red, but do you know why? Thanks to these fun little phytonutrients called antioxidants, namely anthocyanin. Anthocyanins promote vascular health and enhance the antioxidant powers of vitamin C. What? You didn’t know that vitamin C is an antioxidant? We’re learning all sorts of new and exciting things! But get this- every antioxidant that we put into our bodies has the power to combat ROS or Reactive Oxygen Species (a type of free radical), which are produced during energy production in our cells. This is great news because those devious little buggers can do critical damage to lovely, delicate little cell organelles- like the mitochondria, where all of our energy is made!

Not to worry. Cranberries have got us covered. They are not only SUPER high in antioxidants, but other fantastic vitamins and minerals as well. We mentioned vitamin C, which of course is sooo important for immune health. But, did you know that it also helps our bodies to replenish its stores of vitamin E (…also an antioxidant. YEA!)? This is awesome because, now, not only have we pumped up our immune systems and protected ourselves from free radical damage, but now our skin’s defence against ultraviolet light is powered up too!

Another little gem that cranberries have to offer is potassium. This mineral is extremely important for the regulation of sodium in our bodies. On average, we need to take in at least twice as much potassium as sodium, and for those of us that deal with high blood pressure, we want to take in more like 10 times as much potassium as sodium. Another major gift that potassium gives us is support of our heart and muscle contractions. Ever get a Charlie horse? Eat some cranberries! They’ll work it out for ya.

Nutrition talk aside… Again, I know what you’re thinking: What could we possibly do with these tart little berries to make them taste good? Well, I’ve got you there! Just in time for Thanksgiving, I’ve pulled from my memory vault this fantastic raw cranberry chutney recipe that my friend, Katie, made for us a couple years ago.

Raw Cranberry-Tangerine Chutney

1 c. fresh organic cranberries

1 c. organic tangerine sections

pinch of sea salt

raw honey or maple syrup if desired

lots of LOVE

Method:

In the bowl of your food processor, combing all ingredients. Pulse until well combined,  but not super saucy. Enjoy!

That wasn’t so bad, was it? We’ve all been traumatized by canned cranberry sauce, but don’t let that put you off these magical, antioxidant-packed fruits forever. Step away from the can opener and whip yourself up some good health!

In the spirit of the holiday, I would like to leave you with this:

Mother Earth,

thank you for giving us this food,

thank you for the forces and being that brought this food to us,

thank you for the plants and animals that have given their lives to feed us and keep us well.

We thank you, we love you, and we appreciate you.

References:

Mateljan, George. The World’s Healthiest Foods. Seattle, Washington, 2007. Print

Keefer, Amber. Red Cranberry vs. White Cranberry. Livestrong.com. 2011. Web