cranberriesFestive, bright red cranberries abound during the holiday season. They decorate trees and tables alike brightening the mood of darker days. But cranberries should be more than just a seasonal treat. Researchers are finding out that cranberries can help your health year round. 
Researchers have discovered that cranberries are packed with proanthocyanidins. These "phytochemicals" seem to have bacteria fighting powers and may lower the risk of gum disease and stomach ulcers.  And, what your momma told you about cranberries preventing urinary tract infections is actually true. These proanthocyanidins keep bacteria from hanging out in the urinary tract lowering your risk of infections. Cranberries are also a great source of antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may lower the risk of heart disease and some cancers. In fact, cranberries top the fruit list for having the most antioxidant power! 

Here's how to make cranberries a year-round dish instead of just once a year at the holiday:
➢  How Much?  Here's how much you need to reap the cranberry's benefits:
10 ounces of 27% cranberry juice cocktail = 1 ounce dried sweetened cranberries (like "Craisins") = ½ cup cranberry sauce
➢  Add Sugar!  Just come to grips with the fact that you will have to add sugar to eat them. They are very bitter and sugar makes them taste good. Look for recipes for cranberry compote that uses the whole cranberry so you get all the fiber - these recipes usually add other fruits as well as some sugar to sweeten them. In some of these recipes, you could cut down a little bit on the sugar - but honestly, I tried this once and they were too bitter to eat (and yes, it was at a thanksgiving dinner I cooked for my boyfriend's family and yes, I was embarrassed).
➢  Snack on Dried Cranberries. Enjoy the benefits all year 'round by snacking on "Craisins". Yes, they add sugar but you still get the nutritional benefits of eating cranberries.
➢  Drink Cranberry Juice. Again, you can't get around added sugar here but if you're really trying to watch your weight, look for "light" which contains artificial sweeteners and cuts down on calories.
➢  Buy now, Freeze for Later. Cranberries are a winter treat because they like cold, damp weather. You can only get fresh cranberries from October through November. So, if you want cranberries for cooking or decorating at Christmas or later on in the year, buy them now, wrap in plastic wrap, and put them in the freezer.

Go to the Recipes section of this site for my cranberry compote recipe that I make every Thanksgiving. It's always a hit and very easy to make!