July 24, 2014

Harvesting healthy holiday traditions

Cranberries in their native bog habitat.

Cranberries in their native bog habitat.Cranberries in their native bog habitat.Thank goodness for Thanksgiving! This most marvelous of holidays invites us to enjoy a table laden with incredibly healthy and delicious foods and reminds us to take stock of all of our blessings. It is a time to be ever so grateful for every moment, happy or sad, positive or puzzling. When we take time to appreciate the journey of our lives, we give ourselves the strength and fortitude to prepare a wonderfully delicious life.

The foods of Thanksgiving are filled with natural nutrients and are so healthy!  Cranberries are an integral part of any Thanksgiving menu. An unrestrained ingredient, cranberries are full of explosive, mouth-filling flavor. Marrying well with both savory and sweet ingredients, cranberries are both vibrant and versatile.

Packed with plenty of antioxidants and other phytonutrients, cranberries may play a significant role in protecting against heart disease and certain types of cancer. Eating cranberries may also protect against memory loss and improve cardiovascular health.

Long known as a natural remedy for urinary tract infections, cranberries also inhibit bacteria that causes gum disease. Raw cranberries contain no cholesterol, virtually no fat and are low in sodium.

Native Americans valued the cranberry as not only a food source, but as medicine and a natural decoration. Early New England sailors ate Vitamin C-rich cranberries to help prevent scurvy.

When choosing cranberries at the market, press the bag to be sure the berries are firm and plump, and look to see that the berries are nice and shiny. Buy plenty of fresh cranberries  now, while they are in season, and store the bags right in the freezer, removing what you need for individual recipes. The berries will keep nicely for up to 6 months.

While you may have a particular fondness for canned cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving table, consider adding this freshly prepared chutney as an additional option. I think you will enjoy its spry and sassy flavor . Happy Thanksgiving, and I am so grateful to all of you who support this column and strive to prepare your own delicious life!

Cranberry Chutney

Heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

Saute 2-3 teaspoons of minced fresh ginger with 2 minced garlic cloves until they soften.

Add:

2 cups cranberries

a  half cup of pure maple syrup

a  half cup of freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Cook for about 10 minutes, until all the cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened.

Season with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Serve with turkey, roast chicken or duck. Or spread soft goat cheese onto toasted baguette slices and top with a spoonful of the chutney.

Robin Glowa , HHC, AADP is certified in holistic health counseling by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College.

Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes for students of all ages, emphasizing the use of local, natural ingredients and easy to prepare recipes.

For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net