Antioxidant-Rich, Healthy Cranberry Compote

Maine LR-4301

This antioxidant-rich and healthy cranberry compote deserves a place at the table year-round. Because cranberries bring a lot more to the table than just tradition and a dash of ruby-red. That favorite holiday condiment is actually a potent anti-microbial. In fact, cranberries could help keep you feeling festive all year-round.

Originally, researchers attributed the protective effect of cranberries to their acidity. This has long since been disproved. We now know that cranberry’s anti-microbial properties are due its high levels of a chemical compound called proanthocyanidins (PACs).

In plants, PACs provide protection against pathogens and predators. In humans, a unique structure of the PACs in cranberries essentially renders whatever bacteria it comes in contact with a non-stick surface. So, cranberry’s PACs help prevent an overall bacterial invasion that can result in an outright infection. If bacteria can’t stick to our cell walls —it can’t infect. And, if it does stick, it will have less chance of spreading.

Research shows that the PACs in cranberries inhibit bacteria (especially E. coli) from sticking to bladder walls, reducing urinary tract infections and may help prevent ulcers by suppressing H. Pylori infections. They may also prevent cavities by inhibiting unhealthy oral bacteria. This same non-stick ability may also lower the risk of atherosclerosis by inhibiting platelet aggregation and adhesion and by reducing cholesterol.  Clearly, cranberries have a place on the table the other ten months of the year!

HEALTHY CRANBERRY COMPOTE

Serves: 8
Preparation Time: 25 minutes

This quick, easy and healthy cranberry compote recipe uses fresh cranberries, rather than canned. Citrus, apple, pomegranate and cinnamon create a much more interesting and healthful flavor profile than a bunch of sugar ever could. This sauce is only slightly sweet, providing a nice contrast to the overall richness of holiday dinners.

If you don’t care for (or don’t have) pineapple, leave it out. However, you may want to adjust the sweetener. The arrowroot thickens the sauce, but is also optional as the pectin from apples acts as a thickener as well. Alternatively, thicken the sauce by either adding in a few tablespoons of chia seeds before cooking or cook it longer to reduce the liquid further.
 
Get creative in how you use this sauce. Surprisingly versatile, it’s not just for turkey! Try it with other savory items, such as sweet potatoes, as a topping on pancakes or even as a condiment for sweet dishes.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 12 ounce bags of fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pineapple chunks (fresh or frozen)
  • Juice and zest (reserved) of 2 organic oranges
  • 2 organic red apples, cored and coarsely chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or raw honey) or to taste
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup of filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot (optional)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place cranberries, pineapple, apples, cinnamon stick in a sauce pan.
  2. Combine the water and arrowroot, blending well to make a slurry, then add to the cranberry mixture.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to medium heat.  Stir constantly until the cranberries start to burst (about 10-15 minutes) and the mixture is thick and smooth.
  4. Cool completely, adjust sweetener as needed, then mix in the pomegranate seeds.
  5. Garnish with orange zest before serving.

REFERENCES:

Zhang L1, Ma JPan KGo VLChen JYou WC. Efficacy of cranberry juice on Helicobacter pylori infection: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial. Helicobacter. 2005 Apr;10(2):139-45.

Concentrations of Proanthocyanidins in Common Foods and Estimations of Normal ConsumptionJ. Nutr. March 1, 2004 vol. 134 no. 3 613-617

Ofek I, Goldhar J, Sharon N. Anti-Escherichia coli adhesion activity of cranberry and blueberry juices. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1996;408:179-83. Review.

Woods, Rebecca. The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York: Penguin Books, 2010.

Carter, Jean. Food Your Miracle Medicine. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.

Do you enjoy cranberries outside of the holidays? If so, please comment below and share!
 
Originally published 12.19.15

The G & T Healer: Ginger Turmeric Medicinal Tea

Ginger Turmeric Medicinal Tea

Got inflammation, aches, and pains? A few weeks with this drink and you may understand why I fondly call this drink the Ginger Turmeric Healer. G & T for short. Not that kind. 

I’m not being coy calling this ginger turmeric drink a healer. In fact, after serving this up daily during a two-week stay with relatives, they both noticed relief from their daily arthritis-related aches and pains. To quote them “It doesn’t hurt anymore to walk the dogs” and “When I get up in the morning, the pain of putting my socks and shoes on is gone.” This drink also helped me dramatically following a recent traumatic injury, a story for another day. So, for anyone trying to avoid inflammation-related aches and pains, this drink is for you. Continue reading

Herbal Lemon Vinaigrette

Lemon Vinaigrette

Yes,this lemon vinaigrette dressing is as bright as it is versatile. With just a change of fresh herbs; cilantro, parsley or mint —or a combination of several herbs, it will complement a range of salad ingredients. The key here is using fresh lemon juice and balancing it with a small amount of natural sweetener. Continue reading

Healthyish Spicy Margarita

Spicy Margarita

Hands down, a healthyish spicy margarita is my Cinco de Mayo beverage of choice. A ‘healthyish’ cocktail?! Okay. Perhaps it is more politically correct to say that some margaritas are much more UNHEALTHY than others. How so? Check this out.

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Phytonutrient-Rich Dressings to Make Any Salad Even Healthier

Phytonutrient Salad DressingsWhile any salad dressing adds a bit of moisture and palatability to a vegetable medley, the right dressing is a game changer. In fact, these four phytonutrient-rich dressings will not only give your salad a distinct flair, they will take the nutrition quotient to 11! 

How can phytonutrient-rich dressings make a salad even healthier?

First, fat-soluble nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as many phytonutrients need fat for absorption. So, you’ll get more nutrition out of your carrots and sweet potatoes (vitamin A), mushrooms (vitamin D), nuts and seeds (vitamin E), greens and broccoli (vitamin K). That is why friends don’t let friends use fat-free salad dressing!

Second, adding herbs and spices will significantly increase the antioxidant power of your salad to ward off inflammation-causing free radicals. A little goes a long way. For most herbs, simply go by taste and add the amount that tastes right to you. Consistency is more important than the quantity.  Continue reading

How to Make Mushroom Bacon

Mushroom BaconWe all know that ‘mushroom bacon’ is not really bacon. I’m talking about “bacon”. And while I get annoyed with food marketed as something else (tofurky), nothing communicates quite like a good metaphor in air quotes. So, while I’m not going to fool the pork lovers out there, using the ‘B’ word is aptly descriptive. It infers what you’re going to get; an earthy, dense bite of savory, slightly salty immune-boosting goodness. 

No, I won’t bash legit bacon. I have nephews who would never forgive me if I did. But, it’s good to know that these umami bombs are totally unprocessed. And even more important, they are free from the cancer-causing nitrates added to many processed meats.    Continue reading

Vegan Sour Cream Even Omnivores Will Love

Vegan Sour CreamRich and tangy, even omnivores should give this simple vegan sour cream recipe a try. In about five minutes you’ll have a delicious dairy-free, and luscious condiment for soups, wraps, and of course, mexican food. Yet, this vegan sour cream has only a fraction of the saturated fat you’ll find in dairy sour cream. And, compared to many commercial vegan versions, making your own saves you from a laundry list of stabilizers and preservatives. 

If you think tofu is a four letter word, you’ll likely be surprised. Blending the seasonings with extra firm or firm tofu results in a wonderfully smooth and creamy texture. If you’re watching calories, stick with the 2 tablespoon of oil for a lighter version. Otherwise, to get the most sour cream-like mouth feel, use the full 4 tablespoons. For the thickest texture, squeeze out any excess water from the tofu and reserve the liquid. Then, add back only as much of the liquid as needed to thin out the mixture so it will blend to the texture you want.  

BASIC VEGAN SOUR CREAM 

Yield: about 1 1/4 cup

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 ounces organic, firm or extra firm tofu
  • 4 green onions, white portion only, roughly chopped (or 1/2 medium shallot)
  • 2-4 tablespoons organic canola oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

Blend all ingredients in a personal or regular blender. Adjust seasoning with sea salt, lemon juice or vinegar as needed. Store covered and refrigerated for three to four days.

Vegan Sour Cream Ingredients

Tips: 

  • When selecting tofu, be sure to buy organic to avoid genetically modified soy. And, to get extra calcium, be sure to look for it on the ingredient panel, likely listed as ‘calcium sulfate’.
  • Extra unused tofu? After opening, place in covered container and submerge the tofu in fresh water; change water daily.

Purple potato with vegan sour cream

Vegan sour cream on a purple sweet potato…cause that’s how we roll. Mmmm…purple sweet potatoes. I don’t know what I like best, their creamy texture or the almost smoky flavor. Of course, the pigment of purple foods is rich in anthocyanins, potent antioxidants which support the brain and memory. 

Miso Tip #8 – Try Miso Spice!

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Award-Winning Vegetarian Chili Without a Recipe

Vegetarian ChiliLast year, on a whim, I entered a vegetarian chili cook-off at my alma mater. It was a festive evening, a great learning experience with my chili won a prize!  However, I can’t share the recipe with you, because I didn’t use one. But, read on and check out the guidelines I always use and customize each time -as you should as well.
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Turmeric Tofu Scramble is Breakfast Gold!

Tofu ScrambleTurmeric tofu scramble is a quick and savory option for any day. But, with its gorgeous sunshine yellow, this dish is also festive enough for guests. With about 8 grams of plant protein, it provides stable, yet light nourishment to start your day. Serve it with the suggested sides and toppings below, or bundle it up in a whole grain wrap and take it to go.

Not only quick and nutritious, this dish is also what I refer to as ‘a turmeric delivery mechanism’. That’s right, per serving, the scramble gives you a quarter teaspoon of turmeric, the anti-inflammatory ‘spice for life’. Further, it uses all   three ways to get the most from curcumin by using the whole turmeric spice and includes both fat and black pepper to maximize bioavailability.

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