Give thanks for the Cranberry by Elizabeth Brown, MS, RD

Thank you cranberries, for all you do

As Thanksgiving approaches, we will soon be sitting down with loved ones to reflect on the goodness this past year has brought us.

This year I am thankful for a healthy urinary tract because I have discovered the virtues of the cranberry

Cranberries are said to acidify urine by way of substances such as hippuric acid and quinic acid. Acidic urine may help prevent infections as well as ward off the formation of kidney stones.

Cranberries and blueberries contain a specific type of tannin that interferes with the ability of E. coli bacteria to attach to the walls of the bladder. Additionally, compounds in cranberries have the capacity to actually change E. coli bacteria into strains that simply cannot cause infection.

Cranberries also act like a “probiotic,” promoting the growth and well being of beneficial intestinal bacteria.

The cranberry’s benefits don’t begin as they exit the body. Cranberries are effective with the first bite. In the oral cavity, cranberries help fight tooth decay by preventing bacteria from sticking to teeth.

Anthocyanins, found primarily in fruits and vegetables bearing the purple, red and blue hues, are one of the most powerful antioxidants known to man. Antioxidants protect our bodies from free radical damage such as cancer, heart disease and the signs of aging by donating an electron to an unstable oxygen molecule. Whereas most antioxidants have the ability to donate one electron, anthocyanins are large chemical structures which can donate several electrons while remaining none the worse for wear.

Pterostilbene (pronounced TARE-oh-STILL-bean) is an antioxidant in cranberries that helps fight cancer and lower cholesterol by altering a chemical pathway in a way similar to resveratrol in red grapes. However, cranberries may exert an even stronger effect because of their total antioxidant capacity.

Packed with five times the antioxidants as broccoli, cranberries are at the top of the list for their overall Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC.) ORAC takes into account all of the substances in a plant which have the capacity to distinguish free radicals.

I’m thankful for your undivided attention. I hope these recipes encourage you to eat cranberries all year long. Perhaps next year when it is your turn to give thanks, you too will say, “I am thankful for a healthy urinary tract.” Be thankful for your small victories; they may be all you have.

Cranberry Orange Relish

2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen (1 bag)
1 inch fresh ginger, chopped or 2 Tablespoons chopped crystal ginger
4 oranges skinned, sectioned & cut into small triangles
2 medium apples, finely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup coconut flakes

In a food processor, add 1 cup frozen cranberries, 1 tablespoon chopped ginger, 2 chopped oranges & 1 chopped apple. Process until coarse. In a large mixing bowl mix the rest of the frozen cranberries, ginger, oranges and apples. Fold in the “processed” cranberry mixture plus the dried cranberries, nuts & coconut. Makes a great dressing for protein foods. Perfect addition to post Thanksgiving sandwiches. Great on a bed of grains. Super salad topper. Try it in these muffins too!
Per serving: 1 cup (90g), 85 calories, 3g fat, 15g carbs, 3g fiber, 40 percent of your needs for Vitamin C. A good source of Thiamin, Folate, B6, Copper, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese and Potassium. Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is 4 to 1.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or any combination of flours
To make muffins gluten free, use 1 cup brown rice flour plus 1 cup millet flour
1 cup whole oats (Choose Scottish oats for Gluten-free baking)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 inch fresh grated ginger
(add fresh ginger to wet ingredients)

1 egg plus 3 Tablespoons ground flax seed mixed with 1/3 cup water
(If you don’t have ground flax seed, omit the water and use an additional egg or two egg whites)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups cranberry relish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger. (Add fresh ginger to wet ingredients) In a separate large mixing bowl mix oil, eggs, flax & water, plus vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the large mixing bowl. Stir in the Cranberry orange relish. Brush muffin tins with oil. Spoon batter into muffin tins (3/4 full) for 25 minutes. Makes 2 dozen muffins.

Per serving: 1 muffin (60g or 2 oz) 160 calories, 6g fat, 26g carbs, 2g fiber, 3g protein, 140mg Sodium. Rich in manganese from whole grains, also a good source of thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc.