Hitting the Sauce
Keri Glassman gives classic cranberries a healthy twist.
Thursday, November 15, 2012 | Keri Glassman, MS, RD
Most holiday tables aren’t complete without cranberries. Tart and glossy, this Thanksgiving favorite has a short growing season, from Labor Day until the end of October. Cranberries are water-harvested, meaning they grow in bogs and float on the surface of water. Anthocyanins, responsible for the deep red color, are created as a result of the direct sunlight cranberries receive while growing. Why does this matter? Besides making cranberries look pretty, anthocyanins act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Cranberries may improve bladder health, defend against breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer, and even add some fiber to your diet. New research shows they may also help prevent stomach ulcers.
The healthiest way to enjoy cranberries is to eat them whole, with the anthocyanin-rich skin intact. Unfortunately, we normally find cranberries in the sugar-laden juice or sauce form, because eating them whole is a challenge due to their tartness. When purchasing, the firmness matters more than you think. High quality cranberries are actually tested by being bounced on a slanted board. Ripe berries bounce over, but the ones that do not are discarded. Select plump, firm berries, and remember that the deeper the color, the more health-benefiting compounds.
For a healthier spin on the usual cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving, try this:
1 c. fresh apple cider
1 tsp. orange zest
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed
½ c. peeled and cored apples, mashed
¼ c. agave nectar
1. In a saucepan, bring cider, orange zest, cinnamon and cloves to a boil.
2. Once liquid is boiling, add cranberries and turn heat down to medium. Cook uncovered for about 10 minutes.
3. Add mashed apple and agave nectar, turn off heat and cool. Makes about 2 cups.