What holiday meal would be complete without cranberry sauce? But there's plenty more reason than tradition to add a healthy dose of these little gems to your table. For starters, cranberries possess anticancer and antibacterial properties, and they inhibit the growth of common pathogens and microbes. They're also well-known for their usefulness in the treatment of urinary tract infections-the acidity of the cranberry makes urine more acidic, which kills the infection. Plus, they inhibit the adhesion of bacteria to the mucosal wall of the gastrointestinal tract, thereby preventing the bacteria such as H. pylori and E. coli from "sticking," growing, and proliferating.
And that's not all. Studies presented at the 223rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society show that cranberries contain some of the most potent antioxidants of any common fruit. They can also act as a great preventative against atherosclerosis. There are even bioactive compounds in cranberries that have been found to be toxic to a variety of cancer tumor cells.
It's actually a shame that we don't eat them on a regular basis, saving them only for special holiday meals-usually in recipes that are half cranberry/half sugar. But not in our Freshest Raw Cranberry Sauce. This jazzed-up version of the traditional sauce provides all the health benefits of real cranberries, and it's sweetened with low-glycemic coconut nectar. Plus, the cranberries in this recipe are raw, a way they're rarely eaten. And the orange provides just an extra hint of sweetness. What could be better?
Freshest Raw Cranberry Sauce*
2 cups fresh cranberries, or 1 8-oz. bag frozen, unsweetened cranberries, thawed and rinsed
1 large naval orange, peeled, seeded, and halved
2 tsp. orange zest
¼ cup coconut nectar, raw honey, or xylitol, or to taste
Few drops NuNaturals vanilla stevia, optional, to taste
Blend all ingredients together in powerful blender or food processor until it forms a juicy relish. Transfer to serving dish, and serve at room temperature.
PER SERVING: 67 CAL; <1 G PROT; <1 G TOTAL FAT (<1 G SAT FAT); 17 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 1 MG SOD; 2 G FIBER; 12 G SUGARS
*Adapted from The Healthiest Comfort Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden and Jeannette Bessinger
Notes from Chef Jeannette
Because of the fruit's natural tartness, most conventional cranberry products are notoriously high in sugar. But if you look a little harder you can find some that are sweetened only with juice-no white sugar. Look for exclusively juice-sweetened dried cranberries, and RW Knudsen makes a terrific juice-sweetened cranberry sauce. I love to add a spoonful to my tuna salad to give it a bright and lightly sweet highlight.