Cranberries – Facts for a Healthier Holiday!

Benefits of Cranberries – Facts for a Healthier Holiday!

Provided by Linzi Cruz, Dietetic Intern, Baptist Health System

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Cranberry season peaks during the holidays- with lots of recipes for cranberry spreads, pies and sauce. So why not get to know this food and its potential health benefits a little better?

The role of ‘the cranberry’ has been well established with its benefits in preventing against UTIs or urinary tract infections (bladder health). The main component in cranberries that prevents a UTI from happening is the phytochemical called proanthocyanidin. Phytochemicals are compounds, found only in plants, which are believed to provide disease-fighting properties in the human body.

Due to the large number of these ‘phytochemicals’ in cranberries, the possible health benefits don’t stop there! Cranberries can also play a role in improving your immune system and decreasing blood pressure, which is important, especially as we age. At 55 calories per ½ cup, these tart, red berries provide 25% Vitamin C, (a powerful antioxidant) and 5 grams of fiber, which is wonderful for colon health. However, cranberries are very sour to eat raw! In order to balance the tartness, recipes have evolved to make this super food more edible, including the common ways we use them today: in the form of juice, fresh baked in muffins/pies, or dried in oatmeal/trail mix.

Whether you’re familiar with this special berry or interested in trying it for the first time, including cranberries in your diet this holiday will surely make a great addition to your health journey!  There is a variety of cranberry juice available on the market, but not all offer the same health benefits. Here is a reference list that may help you when choosing cranberry juice. These brands include products containing the Vitamins and phytochemicals from the cranberry without added sugars or diluted juice!

Look for these Brands!

  • POM Pure Cranberry Juice
  • Lakewood Pure Cranberry Juice

Brands with Added Sugar and Diluted Juice:

  • Diet Cranberry Juice
  • Ocean Spray and Tropicana Juices

Follow the recipe below to make a cranberry juice cocktail, a healthy holiday meal, and have a look at the best juice brands to choose that have the beneficial vitamins and phytochemicals. We hope you can find a way to include this berry in your diet this season.

Juice Cocktail Recipe:

Servings: 1

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • ¼ Cup Pure Cranberry Juice
  • 1 ½ Cup Water
  • 1 TBS Honey or sugar substitute
  • 1 wedge lemon

Methods: Add water in a 20-ounce cup, and place in the microwave until water is lukewarm. Once heated, mix the honey or sugar substitute to the lukewarm water until fully blended. Add in ¼ cup pure cranberry juice to the honey/water mixture.
Cut lemons into wedges or slices and place one lemon wedge/slice into the cocktail for garnish. Sip and enjoy!

  1. Jepson R. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. Cochrane Database Of Systematic Reviews [serial online]. June 16, 2014;(6)Available from: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 19, 2015.

Smashing Pumpkins

 

pumpkin

Blog – November, 2015

Provided by Randahl Capurro – Dietetic Intern, UT San Antonio

Smashing Pumpkins

When the wheel of the year turns to autumn, pumpkin is one of the most distinctive foods of the season. Appearing in grocery stores and roadside stands, and featured in all sorts of Pumpkin-and-Spice flavored items, pumpkin is very popular this time of year—but many people don’t know that pumpkin happens to be an extremely healthy vegetable.  Loaded with antioxidants and fiber, now is the perfect time to explore beyond what the restaurants are selling and incorporate some real pumpkin into your menu this fall.

Pumpkin is a winter squash, and can be used any way you would use a squash: baked, sautéed, cubed and put in stews, etc.  Pureed pumpkin can be stirred into soups and smoothies, mixed into muffins and other baked goods, and of course, put into a pie!

Although the jack-o-lantern type pumpkins are quite edible, the pumpkins with the best flavor are the smaller pumpkins sold as “sugar” or “pie” pumpkins.  You can sometimes find rare varieties of all shapes, colors, and sizes in certain stores this time of year, all of which are denser and sweeter or more flavorful than the pumpkins we carve up on Halloween.  Fresh pumpkins with a couple inches of stem left and no bruises will store at room temperature for at least 2 months.  For an easier way to incorporate pumpkin into your diet, look for plain canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, which has added sugar and spices) in your local store’s canned vegetable or baking aisle.

Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients

1 c. onion, chopped

1 lg. garlic clove, minced

1/2 c green bell pepper, chopped

1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies

1 pound lean ground turkey

1 can (14.5 oz.) H-E-B Diced Tomatoes

1 can (15.5 oz.) H-E-B Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed

1 can packed pumpkin

1 c. Reduced Sodium Vegetable Broth

1 tsp. each: chili powder and cumin

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Sauté onion and garlic, until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.  Add turkey and cooked until browned.  Ensure to break up turkey with a spatula so there are not large chunks of meat in it.  Add bell pepper, green chilies, tomatoes, kidney beans, pumpkin puree, vegetable broth and seasonings.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Reduce heat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes to let the flavors marry. Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste.  Serve warm with tortilla chips or cornbread.  Garnish with cilantro and avocado or fat free Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese. P