Hooray! In just a couple of days it will be Thanksgiving—the perfect time for…cranberries! Yup. You read that right. I’m excited for the cranberries. Sure, the turkey and the taters are delicious, but you can have them any ol’ time of year. For me, cranberries are a special treat for Thanksgiving Day and not something I think to make year round.
But let’s make one thing clear: I’m not talking about filling a serving dish with the deep reddish-purplish glob of cranberry “stuff” that plops out in the shape of the can. I’ve never understood why people go that route. Making a homemade cranberry sauce isn’t much more complicated than grabbing the can opener, plus it’s way more delicious and nutritious.
The recipe I use only requires whole cranberries, water, a healthy sweetener to take the tart edge off the final product, and some citrus zest and juice (I prefer grapefruit or lemon, but orange works just as well). Throw it all into a saucepan, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer and pop for about 10 minutes. Viola, you have homemade cranberry sauce that never once touched the inside of a can. Once you try homemade, you’ll never go back. Promise. This year I may even try something different, like this recipe with fresh ginger. It sounds like a great combination.
Wanna know why you should reach for this lovely concoction as it’s being passed around the table? There’s the taste, of course. And then there are the nutritional highlights:
- Cranberries provide you with vitamins C, E, and K.
- Cranberries offer up a good amount of dietary fiber.
- Cranberries are a great source of the mineral manganese.
In Nourishing Traditions, author Sally Fallon explains that cranberries have also long been used to ward off kidney issues such as urinary tract infections. Something as simple as cranberry juice (not cranberry cocktail) works like an antibiotic and raises the acidity level of urine, preventing or alleviating the symptoms of the infection. It’s always good to remember what a key role food plays in keeping us at the top of our game.
I always make more cranberry sauce than I need for the holiday table so I can enjoy it for days to come. Besides eating it by the spoonful, I use it to make one of the best sandwiches ever, which was inspired by a menu item at a restaurant in my hometown in Wisconsin called the “Tasty Turkey.” I toast up some sprouted-grain bread, smear it with cream cheese and cranberry sauce, pile on some of that leftover turkey (ham is just as good), and dig in. Adding a green salad rounds it out to a quick, easy, delicious lunch.
I have a hard time finding fresh cranberries year round, so I make sure to grab a few extra bags when they’re available and store them in the freezer for smoothies. In fact, cranberries are so good that I sometimes forget they’re my special Thanksgiving Day treat! If I have them on hand, I’ll whip up a batch of delicious cranberry sauce whenever the craving sets in.
What are some of your favorite cranberry-inspired recipes?
Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/Nadia Gossett