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Mission: Nutrition

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Pass the Cranberries!

Happy Thanksgiving Week! Thanksgiving is a holiday centered around spending time with family, friends, and of course, the food. One traditional staple of Thanksgiving is cranberry sauce. Believe it or not, there is no documented proof that cranberry sauce were served at the first Thanksgiving. The sugar used to make cranberry sauce served at Thanksgiving today wasn't around until 1663, but that doesn't mean cranberries weren't present. History shows cranberries are one the three fruits native to North America, and Native Americans were aware of the health benefits of the fruit prior to the English settlers' arrival. Cranberries are a nutritious fruit full of phytochemicals which protect the body against harmful pathogens that cause cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other life threatening diseases.

Health Benefits of Cranberries

Cranberries are a great source of vitamin C, fiber, and manganese. While the health benefits of vitamin C and fiber are well known, manganese is a micronutrient that keeps bones strong, skin healthy, and protects from free radicals that cause damage to cells and tissue. Cranberries can protect against urinary tract infections because they contain a phytochemical that prevent certain bacteria, such as E. coli, from latching onto the urinary tract lining. Sailors used to eat cranberries to get their needed vitamin C and essentially prevent scurvy.

Storing Cranberries

Cranberries can be refrigerated for up to 4 weeks and frozen for up to one year. Frozen cranberries do not need to be thawed before use. Other than refrigerating and freezing, cranberries can be dried or make great jams, jellies, and salsa! Visit the National Home Food Preservation Website for tested recipes and instructions for different methods of preserving cranberries.

Cooking Gluten Free with Almond Flour and Throwing in the Cranberries

In an effort to include more cranberries into Thanksgiving this year, I took my favorite banana bread recipe and added cranberries. As previously mentioned, my sister has celiac disease so I wanted to find a way to take my favorite banana bread recipe and make it celiac-friendly. Gluten is a protein formed when wheat is mixed with water and gives breads structure, elasticity, and retains water to make the bread fluffy and moist. After doing some research, I found almond flour to replace the all-purpose flour in my recipe. Almond flour is ground up almonds and can be made at home with a food processor. Baking is often about trial and error, and that was exactly what I was doing with my recipe. Almond flour, because it does not contain the gluten protein, might need additional binding agents to help the bread with structure and stability. In my original recipe it called for two eggs, but because I removed the gluten I added an extra egg to help with the binding process. Please note: almond flour typically can replace up to half of the original all purpose flour, too much can cause the baked product to be soggy and not rise properly. Another option is using an additional wheat flour substitute to coincide with the almond flour. I took a risk with changing my original recipe.

I did a few additional changes to my original banana bread recipe. I added cinnamon to the recipe for flavor; I substituted a stick of butter with two tablespoons unsweetened applesauce, replaced the sugar in the recipe with honey, reduced the amount of salt, and threw in some cranberries. The differences between my original recipe and my new altered recipe is the new bread didn't rise quite as high and was slightly more moist than my original. The cranberries added an extra tart flavor to the bread and turned out to be a great quick snack. Below are the nutrition panels from my original to the altered recipes. The serving size is one slice of bread or one ounce. Also, check out my new recipe below!

Classic Banana Bread

Cal. 80, Sat. Fat 2 g., Chol. 20 mg, Sodium 125 mg, Total Carb. 12 g., Protein 1 g.

Gluten Free Cranberry Banana Bread

Cal. 60, Sat. Fat 0 g., Chol. 15 mg., Sodium 80 mg., Total Carb. 5 g., Protein 2 g.

Gluten-Free Banana Cranberry Bread

1 ½ cup mashed bananas (3 bananas)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

3 large eggs

2 cups blanched almond flour

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon baking soda

2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

1 ½ cup cranberries

1. Mix bananas, vanilla, eggs, honey, and applesauce together

2. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon

3. Combine wet and dry ingredients

4. Use a food processor or blender to chop up cranberries and add to batter

5. Scoop batter into a non-stick 8 x 4 loaf pan

6. Bake at 350°F for 60 minutes; insert a knife in the center to check doneness. When done, the knife should come out clean.


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