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Craving Cranberry This Winter

By: Kate Hamilton
Posted: June 9, 2008, from the December 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Originally called the “crane berry” because of the shape of its blossoms, cranberries have a deep-rooted history in North America. Most likely served at the original Thanksgiving dinner, the first documented harvest has been traced to 1816 on Cape Cod in Dennis, Massachusetts. Native Americans used the fruit as a food source, a medicinal cure, and a dye for blankets and rugs. All of this nostalgia not only inspires me to reach for a tall glass of juice, but also to learn more about American cuisine traditions.

 

Facts

Cranberries are one of three commercially important fruits native to North America—blueberries and Concord grapes also are indigenous to the continent. Commonly thought to grow in water, cranberries mature on vines in sandy bogs and marshes where water is used as a means of irrigation and insect control, as well as to protect the plant from weather damage. Many growers flood their crops in order to use water-reel harvesting machines instead of handpicking.

Shiny and plump, cranberries range in color from bright light red to dark burgundy. Rich in antioxidants, flavonoids and vitamin C, these small berries play a role in maintaining cardiovascular health and help to decrease total cholesterol, as well as low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol levels. Adding these tangy morsels to your diet can help to treat urinary tract infections, as well as prevent heart disease, certain cancers and peptic ulcers.

In the kitchen

Most commonly, cranberries are too tart to be eaten off the vine. Instead, they often are cooked to make sauces, jellies, pies and beverages. Crisp salad greens are complemented by the light, tangy taste of Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing at The Heartland Spa in Gilman, Illinois. Executive chef Thomas Ryan featured Cranberry-Orange Relish—an alternative to traditional cranberry sauce—on last year’s Thanksgiving Day menu at JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort, Spa & Golf. For a moist, sweet bread that is perfect as a snack or breakfast treat, try Escondido, California-based Golden Door’s recipe for Pumpkin Cranberry Bread. Longing for dessert? Try Apple Cranberry Risotto at The Hills Health Ranch in 108 Mile Ranch, British Columbia, Canada. See also Cranberry Apple Crisp, courtesy of Eleanor Brown, food consultant at The Oaks at Ojai in Ojai, California.

In the spa