Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cranberries

Mmm, those beautiful bright red tart cranberries make such a wonderful addition to so many dishes. I love to put dried cranberries into my homemade granola which always gets rave reviews. Dried cranberries are also delicious in quickbreads, muffins and trail mix; and add color, texture, and nutrients. Fresh or frozen cranberries are traditionally used for cranberry sauce during the holidays or in jellies. And of course there is the luscious taste of cranberry juice that is ever so popular for breakfast, or mixed with club soda as a sparkling refreshing summer afternoon drink.

So aside from the festive color, tart flavor and interesting texture that they add to dishes, what do they do for your body? Well cranberry juice is commonly known to be beneficial in preventing problems of the urinary tract. It may be helpful to drink cranberry juice that is low in sugar to reduce symptoms and relieve mild urinary bladder infections. Cranberries are nutritious and contain valuable phytonutrients, but their main purpose (aside from culinary enjoyment) is in the prevention of urinary tract infections.

Yummy and Easy Homemade Granola Recipe
**You can alter the quantities & types of nuts/fruits/spices to create all sorts of neat flavors.**
6 cups rolled oats (not quick!)
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup ground flax seed (or sub wheat germ)
1/2 cup brown sugar
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup high quality vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup raisins

Mix all dry ingredients except dried fruit in a large bowl. In a small saucepan heat oil and honey until they are blended. Add vanilla extract and then stir liquid mix into dry ingredients. Mix well and dump evenly onto a sheet pan. Bake about 25 - 30 minutes at 325 degrees (checking and stirring every 10 minutes to prevent the sides from overly browning). Meanwhile place dried fruit in a large bowl. When the granola comes hot out of the oven dump it in to the bowl on top of the fruits. Let cool before mixing. When cooled down stir thoroughly. Store in a tupperware container and enjoy.

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