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Healthy Eats and Repeat

Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle
Cranberries

Bounceberry, Cranberry

Posted by Caitlin Huth - cranberry

The holidays probably bring to mind other foods besides cranberries. While they will not take center stage to classics like turkey or mashed potatoes or pie, add cranberries to your meals for a pop of color, a unique taste, and added nutrition. Some research suggests drinking cranberry juice regularly can help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.

Similar to last months' post on grapes, cranberries are available in a variety of forms. Raw cranberries are rarely found in stores outside of the holiday season, but canned, dried, and juiced varieties are common year-round.

Nutritionally:

  • 1 cup raw cranberries contains around 51 calories, 13g carbohydrate, and 4g fiber.
  • 1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries contains around 125 calories, 33g carbohydrate, and 2g fiber.
  • 1 cup (8 oz) 100% cranberry juice or juice blend has around 110 calories, 26g carbohydrate, and 0g fiber.
  • 1/4 cup or about 1 slice of cranberry sauce contains around 100 calories, 25g carbohydrate, and 0g fiber. (For a lower carbohydrate option, see the recipe at the end of this post.)

All of these forms of cranberries are not a source of fat, protein, or sodium, and they have small amounts of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, folate, and vitamin A. Juice may have added vitamin C.

  • Buy: Look for fresh cranberries that are firm and plump. The red coloring and size of berry may vary. Avoid cranberries that are shriveled or soft.

In dried cranberries, be aware most all have added sugar. Some brands are drying cranberries with sugar substitutes to reduce sugar and calories. Decide what fits into your diet and remember dried fruits are a concentrated source of calories.

In juices, look for 100% cranberry juice. Bottles of just cranberry juice may be vary tart, depending on your taste buds. You can also find 100% juice blends with cranberry, meaning they have multiple fruit juices together, often apple, grape, or pear juice. Avoid juice cocktails and juice drinks which have added sugar.

  • Price: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, dried cranberries cost $4.80 per pound (or about $0.59 per 1 cup) on average. During the holiday season, many stores I frequent sell fresh (frozen) cranberries at 2 bags for $5.00. Bottles of only cranberry juice are much more expensive than 100% juice blends that include cranberry. Decide what fits in your budget.
  • Store: Keep fresh, unwashed cranberries in your refrigerator up to two months or move to your freezer to keep them up to a year. See more from the National Center for Home Food Preservation on freezing cranberries.
  • Prepare: Wash fresh cranberries before eating. If adding fresh to recipes, they do not need to be thawed before using. Cooking cranberries will pop as the skin breaks open. Add dried cranberries to trail mix and baked goods like muffins.
  • Eat: Cranberries can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Dried varieties are common in dessert recipes, while fresh tend to pair with meats and stews.

References:

With four ingredients and a short cook time, this cranberry sauce recipe will get you to the holiday table in no time.

Ten Minute Cranberry Sauce (4 cups, 1 serving = 1/2 cup)

For family and friends with diabetes, cooking with sugar substitutes can help them add foods to their plates without going overboard on the carbohydrates.

2 cups Splenda®
2 cups water
1 pound (4 cups) cranberries
1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1. Combine Splenda and water. Bring to a boil; cook for 5 minutes.
2. Add cranberries; cook until skins pop, about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Add gelatin and cool in refrigerator.Note: If you do not like whole berries, chop or puree berries in a food processor before cooking.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 52 calories, 0g fat, 9mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g protein

Recipe from University of Illinois Extension, Recipes for Diabetes

Trivia: Cranberries have trapped air inside them, allowing them to float on water. You may be familiar with pictures or videos of cranberry bogs, seeing the berries float. A good quality cranberry will also bounce, because of this trapped air, sometimes giving them the name "bounceberry." (Source:  Utah State University, Food $ense, Cranberry, 2011)


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