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Now in Season: Cranberries November 25, 2010

Fresh cranberries: most people would not eat fresh cranberries on their own (they have a naturally very tart flavor) but they can be delicious when thrown in smoothies, salads, breads, and in other tasty holiday dishes.

Now in Season: Cranberries

A tart, potent berry, cranberries pack a lot of flavor and nutritional oomph into their brightly colored skins. These berries are naturally low in calories and sugars, and high in fiber, antioxidants (particularly vitamin C), and phytochemicals (including Proanthocyanidin).

Proanthocyanidin, a phytochemical that helps prevent bacteria from sticking to certain body surfaces, gives the cranberry its reputation for aid in prevention of urinary tract infections, tooth decay, and some food-borne illnesses.

Cranberry Juices: 100% Juice not Always What it Seems
100% cranberry juice, in the unsweetened version, is very tart but most of the cranberry juices on the market are sweetened with other fruit juices or sugar. OceanSpray, for example, offers a “100% Juice Cranberry”  with “no sugar added.” This juice is still sweet because the company blends in other, much sweeter juices to give the juice a more palatable flavor. If you love cranberry juice, this kind would definitely be a much better choice than the cranberry juice “cocktail” variety, which is laden with added sugars, (and in my opinion doesn’t taste very good). Even the natural juice blend, however is still very high in sugar. To cut down on your calorie and sugar intake, mix the juice with sparkling water to make a tasty juice spritzer.

Cranberry Dishes
Try to find cranberry dishes and drinks that take advantage of the cranberry’s tart tangy flavor instead of masking it with tons of sugar. I like to add a handful of fresh or frozen berries to fruit smoothies, and I love Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. Instead of adding lots of sugar to your dish, try pairing cranberries with naturally sweet fruits like baked apples or pears. Here’s one delicious recipe that tastes tangy and sweet without piling on the sugar: pear cranberry sauce.


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