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Blueberries are blue, but what color is cran? Actually, the word cranberry is derived from “crane berry” since the blossoms resembled the neck, head, and bill of a crane.  Cranberry juice was used as a natural dye for clothing, and in my family that still happens. We also find them a favorite when making holiday decorations as they make a wonderful addition
to a popcorn chain for the tree.
The scientists are showing that this tart, tangy berry really does help prevent urinary tract infections. But what most of us like is that cranberries add a gorgeous red color, a tangy zip and some vitamin C to our meals.
Americans consume some 400 million pounds of cranberries each year and 20% of that total is eaten during Thanksgiving week. In addition to canned cranberry sauce, here are some tasty ways to enjoy these berries:
• Add chopped cranberries to baked goods such as bran muffins
• Toss some chopped cranberries into pancakes or waffles
• Serve cranberry sauce over top of pancakes, waffles or yogurt
• Try dried cranberries - eat them out of the bag or incorporate them into snack mixes
• Add a few chopped fresh or dried cranberries to your morning cereal or oatmeal
• Cook cranberries with apples for a tangy applesauce
• Add cranberries to apple or pecan pie for holiday color and flavor
Simple Cranberry Relish
Combine one bag of cranberries plus one cup of sugar and one cup of water in a medium-sized sauce pan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or until the cranberries are tender. Serve warm or chill for later use. The sauce will gel as it cools because the cranberries are a natural source of pectin, the same pectin used in making jelly. 1/3 cup = 105 calories, 20 g carbohydrate.
Cranberry Maple Relish
12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
2 large apples, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture has a jamlike consistency. (Adapted from Vegetarian Times Entertaining by Jay Solomon copyright 1996.)
Serves 10. Each 1/2 cup serving: 148 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 16 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fiber, <1 g protein.
Cranberries for Dessert
Cranberries add a tart, tangy flavor to many dishes from meats, to quick breads to deserts. Here is a favorite adapted from the New Joy Of Cooking. While most pies are heavy on the fat, this recipe has only a top crust so you cut the fat in half. It uses an abundance of seasonal fruit so this dessert really adds to your 5 a day of fruits and vegetables.
Deep Dish Apple Cranberry Pie
4     large apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 1/2 cups     cranberries, fresh or frozen
3/4 cups     sugar
1/4 cup     flour
1 tsp    apple pie spice
1    prepared pie crust
Stir all ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl and place in a 10 inch deep dish pie pan.  Place one pie crust on top of the fruits. Cut 3 or 4 slits to allow the steam to escape. Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour. Serve warm with a slice of pie crust over top of the fruit. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Serves 10. Each 3/4 cup serving: 201 calories, 6 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 86 mg sodium, 38 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 1 g protein.
By Carol Coughlin, RD.

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