Cooking with Cranberries: Healthy Treats

Although cranberries don’t get the same kind of buzz as other fruits, they are nutritional powerhouses that deserve a second look. Many people pass up cranberries due to their tart taste, which can make it difficult to convince children to eat them. But the tart flavor is perfect for taking the sweet edge off of other berries and fruits, and makes a great addition to a number of recipes your kids will love.

The nutrition in Cranberries

Cranberries are an excellent source of Vitamins A, C, K, and E. They also provide calcium, potassium and phosphorus. They are low in fat and provide a good source of dietary fiber. Compared to many other fruits, they are low in sugar as well. Cranberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants, which are known to fight cancer, offer anti-aging properties, and generally promote good health.

Cranberry juice has long been popular as a preventative as well as a treatment for urinary tract infections, as it helps to fight the bacteria that cause the infection and prevent them from sticking to the inside of the urinary tract.

Great Ways to Eat Cranberries

While raw cranberries are by far the best choice, the most popular format for consuming cranberries is via cranberry juice, or the sweetened, dried version of the berry. Use caution with either of these last two options, as they will usually have extra sugar added, especially the dried version. Cranberry sauce or jellied cranberries are particularly popular around Thanksgiving as they are usually served with turkey.

100% cranberry juice is a good source of all the nutrition cranberries have to offer, but kids might find it too tart. Try a mixed juice like cran-apple or cran-grape, as long as it is still 100% juice and doesn’t have added sugar. Remember that one serving of juice per day is enough for a child.

Sweetened dried cranberries can be used anywhere you might usually use raisins. Add them to hot cooked cereal like oatmeal or cream of wheat, or simply offer a handful as a snack. Remember that they do have added sugar, however, so use them in moderation.

Raw cranberries are a very versatile berry, and the tart flavor compliments many other fruits in baked goods. Cranberries are a great addition to berry smoothies, and can also be added to muffins, pancakes, and other baked goods. For a delicious treat, an apple-cranberry pie can’t be beat.

Cranberries are also a wonderful addition to applesauce that can be served with pork or even just eaten as a snack. Use raw cranberries to make a homemade cranberry sauce you can serve not only with your Thanksgiving turkey, but with chicken or other poultry at any time of the year. You can also make cranberry preserves at home, for a tasty and healthier alternative to store-bought jams.

Adding cranberries to your diet as well as your child’s will add a real punch of nutrition with a unique flavor that is versatile in both sweet treats and with meat dishes. The tart cranberry is a great way to steer your child away from foods that are too sweet and full of sugar. Although they are probably too tart to eat the way you would other berries, by the handful, they compliment many other flavors and are well worth the effort for the incredible health benefits they offer.

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