Indulge Your Senses With Deep Red, Nutritious, Delicious: Cranberries & Pomegranates

One of my favorite pastimes during the holidays is to cook, eat, share and gift, healthy homemade recipes that I love. Especially jams, sauces and muffins. Getting cozy in my kitchen on a wintery day, dogs at my feet with smooth music flowing, is therapy for my heart, soul and spirit. I adore deep red fruits for their vibrant color, perfect flavor and exceptional nutritional value. Cranberries and Pomegranates are exactly those special fruits this time of year. They are perfectly paired with almost any dish; breakfast, lunch or dinner. Add them to baked goods, salads, vegetable dishes, sauces or eat them alone. You can’t go wrong. Cooking is wonderful therapy! So, warm your kitchens, and cook and play until your hearts delight. And, I promise you this; as Bob Marley says “every little thing is gonna be alright.” Enjoy with love, Allison

Cranberries – A traditional holiday side dish in North America – are more than just a tart and tasty meal accompaniment. A rich source of vitamin C and dietary fiber, cranberries are packed with healthy antioxidants and are used traditionally to help prevent urinary tract infections. Recent studies have also linked consumption of cranberries and cranberry juice with healthy cholesterol levels, improved gastrointestinal health and the prevention of kidney stones – all good reasons to increase your intake no matter what the season.

Fresh cranberries provide the most antioxidants and are in season from October through December. When purchasing fresh cranberries, look for those that are a deep red color and firm to the touch. They can be used in a variety of ways; try them in breads and muffins or as a cold or warm relish.

Pomegranates - A delicious fruit historically associated with love and sensuality? Sounds like a perfect package to me! In fact, pomegranates appear to be good for more than your sex life. Research over the past decade suggests that pomegranate juice contains 2-3 times the antioxidant load of red wine or green tea, elevating the pomegranate to superhero status in fighting cardiovascular disease. Studies show that regular consumption of pomegranate juice (unsweetened, 6 ounces daily) may help to:

-decrease thickening of the arteries

-slow oxidation of cholesterol

-increase blood flow

-increase levels of nitric oxide which relaxes blood vessels

-act as a natural ACE inhibitor which helps to decrease blood pressure

Pomegranates are used extensively in Middle Eastern cuisine. Once found only in ethnic groceries, these scrumptious bundles, along with both pomegranate juice and pomegranate molasses, are now readily available in most natural food stores and general groceries.

Fall is season for fresh pomegranates. When selecting whole fruit, look for heavy fruit, free of blemishes. Pomegranates don’t sweeten once picked, so dense fruit will generally yield

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the most tangy sweet juice. Try de-seeding the pomegranate by breaking it up into a big bowl of water. The membrane will float to the top, making it easier to get at the seeds. Throw on a pair of latex gloves and you’ll avoid staining your fingers ruby red! Love pomegranates but hate all the work involved in getting at all of those magnificent seeds? Many specialty stores sell containers of fresh pomegranate seeds and frozen pomegranate seeds are available in most natural food markets. So stock up…and let’s get cooking!

Keep in mind and your freezer, these powerful red delights can be frozen for snacking and cooking all year long.

My Favorite Cranberry Simple Sauce

* I always double, even triple this recipe! It’s that good!  I love this on toast or a muffin in the morning.  Fill small mason jars with the sauce, add a personalized label , a red ribbon and give as gift. Everyone loves a homemade jar of anything from your kitchen and giving always feels so good!

1 (12 ounce) bag fresh

cranberries

3/4 cup packed dark brown

sugar

1 large orange, juiced and

zested

9 tablespoons port wine

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large saucepan, combine the cranberries, brown sugar, orange zest and juice, and port wine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the cranberries have popped and the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. Cool, and refrigerate overnight before serving.

Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce

“This is a delicious fruit-filled version of cranberry sauce. The pomegranate is cooked separately to facilitate seed removal, then both parts are combined to finish cooking. It’s wonderful as an accompaniment for poultry, and can be made into a lovely trifle-type dessert with vanilla pudding and pound cake.”

INGREDIENTS:

2 large tart apples

2 pomegranates, peeled and

seeds separated

1 (16 fl oz) bottle pomegranate

juice

2 cups white sugar

2 large oranges

2 (12 ounce) bags fresh

cranberries, rinsed and sorted

1 cup pecans, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

1. Peel and core apples, and put peelings and cores in a small saucepan with pomegranate seeds, 1/2 cup juice, and 1/2 cup sugar. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.

2. Chop the peeled apples, and place in a large saucepan. Remove zest from half of one orange, chop very fine, and add to apples. Peel oranges, chop coarsely, and add to pan along with cranberries and remaining juice and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.

3. Remove small pan from heat, and strain juice into larger pan. Cool solids slightly, and then push though a sieve to remove seeds and peels, adding remaining pulp to larger pan. Stir in nuts, if desired. Cook about 10 minutes longer. Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.

Want more yummy recipes? Just click here & enjoy!

You must also try Blueberry Cranberry Cider Jam from The Cultured Cook. It’s simply to live for!

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