C is for cranberries

cranberriesGuest blog by Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

The appearance of fresh cranberries in the shops (for Thanksgiving) always marks the start of the festive season for me. The season for these berries, grown mainly in North America, is short (October to December) compared with other berries, but you can freeze them or use dried cranberries all year round.

Probably the best known health benefit of cranberries is in protecting and/or treating urinary tract infections like cystitis. Cranberry juice, with or without other healthy juices added, is widely available. However, since cranberries are rather tart, compared with other berries, these juices often contain sugar or sweetener. They might be best consumed diluted in water, with a squeeze or two of lemon, to offset the sugar content.

Cranberries are high in polyphenols, including the anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins, which are powerful antioxidants. One experiment compared the antioxidant potential of fruits and vegetables and found that cranberries, with a level of 8,983, came second only to blueberries (13,427).   For comparison, apples come in at 5,900 and watermelon is bottom at 216.
The health benefits of cranberries have been extensively researched. For more, see this link http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=145

FESTIVE JUICE

A healthy start to Christmas Day!
[serves 2]

Half a box of cranberries (about 100g)
One net of satsumas
One net of clementines
One inch of peeled ginger
Juice all ingredients and serve immediately.

CRANBERRY SUPERFOOD SALAD

I sometimes replace pomegranate seeds with dried cranberries in my superfood salad.
[serves two]
One packet of beneforte long-stem broccoli
Packet or bunch watercress
Handful of mixed seeds
Handful of almonds/walnuts/hazelnuts or mixture
Dressing
Garlic glove
Sea salt or mustard powder
One tbsp cider vinegar
One tbsp flaxseed oil (I always use High Barn Oils extra virgin cold pressed flaxseed [linseed] oil in salad, but you may prefer to substitute other oils with a good omega 3:6:9 ratio)
Juice of one lemon

Cook the broccoli and leave to cool. Mix all ingredients. For the dressing, grind the garlic with either the salt or mustard to make a paste, then add the other ingredients and whisk (this is the Delia method, which I’ve been using ever since I bought the How to Cook series). Toss with the superfood salad ingredients.

CHRISTMAS TOMATO SAUCE

This is what we have on our Christmas Day nut roast, but it’s equally good with pasta.
[serves two]

Two red onions
Three cloves of garlic
Half a box of cranberries (about 100g)
400g tomatoes (I like to mix different varieties, such as plum, heritage, cherry, as some greengrocers now stock a wide range)
One tsp dried mixed herbs
One tsp chilli flakes, if you like it hot

Pour boiling water on the tomatoes to ease off the skins (though don’t bother if you’re in a hurry). Chop roughly. Fry the onion and garlic in coconut oil till soft and then add tomatoes and cranberries with the mixed herbs and chilli flakes. Bring to boil on medium heat, then turn right down to simmer for an hour or more till the sauce is very thick (another Delia tip).

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