At one point or another, you’ve probably associated the cranberry with the holidays, but did you know the many nutritional benefits it has? This seasonal superfood is full of antioxidants, fights against inflammation, reduces the risk of heart disease, aids in oral health, helps prevent ulcers and yeast infections, and may even inhibit the growth of some human cancer cells.
Ready to incorporate more powerful healthy foods into your diet? Scroll down for nine cranberry recipes that you can easily make all year long.
1. Cranberry Crumble Oatmeal
According to a study of 20 common fruits by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, cranberries were found to have the most natural phenols, giving them a high antioxidant profile. Antioxidants are essential in helping your body defend itself from free radicals and toxins that can build up in your body. They not only damage your cells, but also increase your risk for cancer and other diseases.
The best way to consume these power players? Raw and through pure juice, according to Joe Vinson, a professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton, who, along with his colleagues, studied commonly available grocery store fruits. To get the most out of your cranberry intake, Cassetty also recommends being mindful by pairing them with foods that don’t have added sugars.
“Add them to unsweetened yogurt or overnight oats, or create a trail mix with a blend of dried cranberries, nuts (such as pecans or walnuts) and pumpkin seeds.” And if you do eat them with oats, such as in this vegan breakfast, you’ll get even more fiber and iron, which is an immune system-supporting mineral that will help you through the cold and flu season.
Recipe and Nutritional Information: Cranberry Crumble Oatmeal
2. Cranberry Baked Brie
Cranberries are also a good source of vitamin E. This vitamin, also considered an antioxidant, helps protect the body against molecular breakdown from toxins, is essential for your body’s immunity to function well and aids in cellular communication as well as in generating red blood cells.
Make this stunning dish to take to your next potluck dinner or Friendsgiving. The mild, earthy flavor of brie pairs well with the homemade vinegar-infused cranberry sauce for a tangy, satisfying finish. Rather than processed crackers that are typically high in sugars, salt and unhealthy fats, use apple slices for dipping.
Recipe and Nutritional Information: Cranberry Baked Brie
3. 5-Minute Cranberry Chicken Salad Sliders
Move over chicken Waldorf salad sandwich, there’s a new slider in town. What makes this recipe so appealing is that you can take that leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving dinner and give it a new purpose by using it as a spread for this recipe or any sandwich you make all weekend long.
Along with the benefits you get from the cranberries, pistachios are a good source of a vegetable-based protein, minerals and vitamins, and, according to Science Daily, may improve the health of your heart.
Cassetty also warns against the sugar content found in cranberry-based products. “Since cranberries are tart, they’re often found in foods with added sugars, including sauce, dried cranberries and cranberry juice drinks.” Make your own cranberry sauce whenever possible so that you can control how much sugar is added to your recipe. Canned varieties are full of added sugars — even the organic canned cranberry sauce ones — so you’re better off with a homemade version.
Recipe and Nutritional Info: 5-Minute Cranberry Chicken Salad Sliders
4. Citrus and Arugula Salad With Cranberry Dressing
Spicy and tangy, this salad is a great lunchtime go-to that will get you out of your sad-desk-lunch rut. Add some almonds, not just because they are a high-protein food, but for their satisfying crunch. Leafy greens and citrus fruits like oranges are shown to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
To avoid unnecessary preservatives and sugars, make your own cranberry salad dressing by repurposing that leftover homemade cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving dinner.
Recipe and Nutritional Info: Citrus and Arugula Salad With Cranberry Dressing
5. Cranberry-Orange Quinoa
Sweet and tart, cranberries have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) supports the link between lowering the risk of cancer and eating foods high in fiber and vitamin C.
And research presented to the American Chemical Society by Catherine Neto, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, found that when cranberry extract was fed to mice with colon cancer, the number and the size of the tumors diminished.
When it comes to dried cranberries, Cassetty suggests pairing them with other nutritious foods that don’t contain added sugars. “Use them to add color and flavor to salads and sauteed greens, add them to unsweetened yogurt or overnight oats,” she says.
This gluten-free quinoa dish with cranberry and orange is full of cancer-fighting fiber. And according to the Whole Grains Council, quinoa is one of the only complete proteins offering all nine essential amino acids, is high in potassium and has been shown to help control blood pressure.
Recipe and Nutritional Info: Cranberry-Orange Quinoa
|Read on: 9 Festive Cranberry Recipes for the Holiday Season|