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Craving Cranberry Sauce

Over the next couple of weeks, I will walk you through some simple and flavorful Thanksgiving dishes sure to impress you and your dinner guests! First up, cranberry sauce.

Thanksgiving is one of my FAVORITE times of year for a few reasons.  First of all, I love it because it was the first time that my mom allowed my sister and me to really get into the kitchen and cook (Thanks, Momma!)  Secondly, the thought of my family getting together over a meal was always comforting and there was a lot to be thankful (except when someone brought “pumpkin” instead of “sweet potato” pie!).  Finally, and probably most importantly in my adolescent mind and “always hungry” stomach, each day leading to Thanksgiving was a step closer to “smash time” for my favorite turkey time side dishes of “unlimited” mac & cheese, greens, and homemade rolls.

On the contrary, my least favorite sides were cornbread dressing and the perfectly cylindrical cranberry sauce–straight out of the can, baby.  I’m still not a fan of the dressing, but over time, I’ve been able to perfect making fresh cranberry sauce, which is not only easy to make and tastes wonderful, but these berries are FANTASTIC for my health.  If you’re still not sold, a little history lesson.

One of North America’s three native fruits that are commercially grown (blueberries and the Concord grape being the others), cranberries were first used by Native Americans, who discovered the wild berry’s versatility as a food, fabric dye and healing agent.  By the beginning of the 18th century, the berries were being exported to England.  Wisconsin produces the largest crop (more than half), followed by Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.

Fresh cranberries are at their peak between October and December, and full of Vitamin C and fiber; sounds good, right?  That’s nothing.  What makes cranberries as nutritiously beneficial is the array of phytonutrients (naturally derived plant compounds, or nutrients that go “phyto”) present.

When working together in a group (when cranberry is whole), and not isolated (in cranberry extract), they combine to help lower the risk of high blood pressure, urinary tract infections (UTIs) periodontal disease (teeth, gums), and stomach ulcers, while also helping prevent cancers of the breast, colon, lung, and prostate.  These berries also have been reported to have positive effects on getting over the cold or flu.

When selecting cranberries at the store, look for those that are deep red in color, firm, and plump; the deeper red their color, the more nutritious.  Ripe cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator for over 2 weeks.

Cranberry sauce

C = cup

t = teaspoon

T = Tablespoon

 

3 c cranberries, fresh

1 c raw organic honey + 2T

¾ c water

1 t cinnamon

½ t nutmeg

1 T orange zest

Wash cranberries, discarding the bruised berries.  In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil.  Add the berries and honey, and return to a boil, occasionally stirring.  Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries burst, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat, and add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange zest.  Let cool, then place in the refrigerator until it thickens.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side? Let us know in the comments!