Cranberries are a popular part of holiday meals but they offer so much nutritious goodness you should consider including them in your diet throughout the year!

 

Health Benefits of Cranberries:

  • One 1/2 cup serving of fresh, raw cranberries provides at least 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C and fiber and only 25 calories!

  • Cranberries are a good source of Vitamin A, Beta Carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, folate and minerals like potassium and manganese.

  • Research suggests that the insoluble fiber in cranberry skins may help to optimize gut bacteria

  • Cranberries contain flavonoids including anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins which are potent antioxidants that:

    • protect against oxdative damage

    • provide anticancer and antitumor protection

    • provide antibacterial protection against urinary tract infections and H. pylori infections in the stomach.

    • Decrease chronic inflammation related to periodontal disease

    • Decrease inflammation in the stomach, colon and cardiovascular system.

 

Synergy Matters!

The phytonutrient benefits provided by cranberries are dependent on being consumed in combination with each other. In other words eating whole unprocessed cranberries is best for capitalizing on the health benefits.

 

How to Select, Store and Prep:

Cranberries are available fresh from October through December but can be frozen for up to a year.

Select fresh, plump and deep red berries that are firm to the touch. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Rinse under running water prior to use.

To freeze fresh cranberries: Spread washed and dried cranberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet; place in freezer. Once frozen, store in a Ziploc bag until ready to use. Thaw well and drain prior to use. Can be placed frozen into cooked recipes but cooking time may need to be adjusted. You don’t have to thaw them to toss into a smoothie.

 Dried Cranberries: provide as much as 6 times the calories, 16 times the sugar and considerably less of the desired nutrients. Opt for low sugar or juice-sweetened options.

 

How to Enjoy Cranberries Between the Holidays:

 

  • Add to hot cereal, muffins or breads.

  • Mix into favorite cobbler or pie recipes.

  • Mix into salads. Try this recipe .

  • The tartness of the cranberries would be great in salad dressings! Try the recipe here.

  • Mix into smoothies. Try the recipes here and here and here.

 

Fresh cranberries leftover from Thanksgiving were the inspiration for this post. My son was asking me to make some muffins to send in his lunchbox. I found a whole grain cranberry muffin recipe here,  and I must say we are all very happy with how they turned out! There is a glaze recipe included but I found the muffins to be sweet enough without it.

 

whole grain cranberry muffins with fresh cranberries
Cranberry Whole-Grain Muffins
Print Recipe
Tart and tasty whole grain muffin. Vegan substitutions included.
Servings Prep Time
12 muffins 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 muffins 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
whole grain cranberry muffins with fresh cranberries
Cranberry Whole-Grain Muffins
Print Recipe
Tart and tasty whole grain muffin. Vegan substitutions included.
Servings Prep Time
12 muffins 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 muffins 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Ingredients
Optional Glaze
Servings: muffins
Instructions
Muffins
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease muffin tin.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients including spices; add the nuts and cranberries.
  3. Whisk together the eggs (or egg replacers), buttermilk (or non dairy replacement), oil and orange zest.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Fill muffin cups until 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven to rack for cooling. You could top with optional glaze at this point but I found these muffins to be sweet and satisfactory without the glaze.
Optional Glaze
  1. Heat juice and sugar in small saucepan or microwave and stir together until glaze forms. Drizzle over muffin tops.
  2. Nutrition info for 1 (unglazed) muffin made with egg and buttermilk: 235 calories, 6 g protein, 29 g carbohydrate, 2.5 gram fiber, 11 grams fat, 220 mg sodium
Recipe Notes

Adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe.

Can substitute  Neat Egg or Ener-G egg replacers for the eggs.

There are several egg substitutes but they vary in their leavening ability: 

1 egg = 2 Tbsp. potato starch
• 1 egg = 1/4 cup mashed potatoes
• 1 egg = 1/4 cup canned pumpkin or squash
• 1 egg = 1/4 cup puréed prunes
• 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder
• 1 egg = 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed simmered in 3 Tbsp. water
• 1 egg white = 1 Tbsp. plain agar powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water, whipped, chilled, and whipped again

Can substitute non dairy products for dry milk & buttermilk. To make a vegan buttermilk:

Place 1 tablespoon lemon juice, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar in a measuring cup.
Add enough non-dairy milk (of your choosing) until it reaches the 1-cup line; stir with a fork or whisk.
Allow mixture to rest for 5-10 minutes until thickened. Makes 1 cup "buttermilk".

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