Cranberries - Delicious and Healthy

One of My Favorite Things

I love cranberries, dried and fresh. We keep Ocean Spray Craisins (a naturally fat-free snack) in the pantry and use them almost daily on salads.

Try grilled chicken breast over Romaine lettuce with fresh raspberries, mandarin oranges, avocado slices, tomatoes, slivered almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, and of course, dried cranberries. Top it off with Girard's Fat Free Raspberry Dressing and you (and your guests) will be so impressed that you put this incredible healthy dinner together so effortlessly.

One of my favorite recipes that I make every year at Christmas-time when we put together plates of homemade treats for gifts is Pumpkin Cranberry Bread. It is everything you crave when you hit Fall going into Winter. The entire house smells like spicy heaven. We can never wait until they completely cool to have the first piece. There is absolutely nothing like biting into the warm spicy pumpkin bread and having a fresh cranberry burst in your mouth. I bake them in mini loaf pans made by Wilton. They are the perfect size for a snack. My only caution is to not over bake them. They are much better slightly under-done than dried out.

PUMPKIN CRANBERRY BREAD

Makes 2 regular loaves or 22 mini loaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine in mixer until just blended:

2 eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

1 29-oz. can pumpkin

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Add, stirring until just moistened:

2-1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Fold in:

1 14-oz. bag fresh cranberries

Spoon batter into greased and floured loaf pans or paper muffin cups.

For large loaves, bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

For mini loaves, bake for 22 minutes. Remove muffins from pan to cooling rack.

A Little History

According to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association, the cranberry is one of North America's three native fruits. And since approximately 1550, Native Americans have been using cranberries for not only food, but medicine and as a dye for fabrics as well. On a vacation to Cape Cod, we drove by cranberry bogs that look absolutely amazing and took a little tour at Ocean Spray in Middleboro, Massachusetts. I even bought a wooden box of delicious Cranberry Tea.

The Cranberries

None of this is to be confused with The Cranberries, the singing group from Limerick, Ireland, who debuted in 1990 with their song, "Linger."

Cranberry Juice

Research has shown that cranberries and cranberry juice are among the top foods with health benefits, including prevention of urinary tract infections, reduction of dental plaque, as an anti-cancer agent, prevention of oxidation, which inhibits heart disease and prevention of the development of kidney stones.

So eat ‘em, drink ‘em, bake ‘em. They are cholesterol free, fat free, and a good source of fiber. Cranberries are definitely one of my favorite things!

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