Cranberries 101 – Cranberry Relish

Cranberries 101 – Cranberry Relish
By Johnathan Zamora

This year, the United States will produce 735 million pounds of Cranberries.  While the first Thanksgiving did not include cranberries, (the Wampanoag Indians did not eat them, but found them useful for dyeing fabrics and decorating pottery) this popular side dish definitely deserves a spot on our plate more than once a year.

Cranberries have long been associated with a variety of health benefits, one of the most common being the ability to enhance healthy urinary tract function.  Scientific research shows these pint-sized berries have a lot more to nutritionally offer than previously thought.  The majority of cranberries in the United States are water harvested – meaning they are grown floating in large bogs to make harvesting easier. One of the benefits of water harvesting is the increased direct sun exposure. Direct sunlight is vital to cranberries since it helps to increase the concentration of anthocyanins and as a result, increases the health benefits.  Recent research has demonstrated that the isolated nutrients and antioxidants found in processed cranberries do not account for the same degree of health benefits as the entire synergistic grouping.  This means that the entire berry holds far greater nutritional benefit than those can-shaped cranberry products.

To get the most nutritional punch, steer clear of processed cranberry food products and instead choose the whole berry.  Like most foods, the berry begins to lose nutritional value the more it is processed, more importantly the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties also get broken down.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, the traditional foods look to yet again make their annual appearance.  Like many people, one of my favorite “usual suspects” for the holiday is cranberry sauce.  Below, I provide a modern twist to this traditional side dish.

Cranberry Relish

Makes: 10 servings

1 lb. bag, whole fresh cranberries
2 ea. Granny Smith apples, cored & sliced thin
2 ea. large Oranges, peeled, pith removed and cut into segments
¼ cup sugar
2 ounces Grand Marnier, or orange liqueur (Optional)

Method of Preparation:

1. In a food processor, combine cranberries with the sugar and pulse until coarsely chopped.
2. Next, add the apples, oranges and liqueur.  Pulse again until the fruit is well combined, but not too small.
3. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours to allow the flavors to blend.  Serve chilled.

Johnathan Zamora
The Fit Chef

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