For too long I associated cranberries only with winter holidays and the occasional cocktail, neither of which suggests it as a ‘health food’. Only after seeing several cranberry derived products during a perusal through my local natural foods store, did I dive into research and discover what a disservice I’d been doing to this berry! Today I’m making up for that by educating y’all on the many benefits of cranberry and our four favorite ways to reap its goodness.
Did you know that 2/3rds of the world’s cranberries are grown in the US? Or that cranberries actually start out white? All true! Here is the cranberry 411:
- They are the second most antioxidant-rich fruit (its relative the blueberry holds first place);
- Loaded with 5 key phytonutrients, which help your body fight inflammation and disease;
- A great source of fiber, manganese and vitamin C. One serving deliver almost 20% of those daily intake values;
- Low on the Glycemic Index (GI) and low calorie (45 cal/cup);
- Good for skin exfoliation (more on that soon); and
- When choosing fresh berries, the best ones will have the deepest red color.
- Stunning cranberry harvest photos like the one below lead many to incorrectly assume that cranberries grow underwater. The marshes are flooded only for the harvest because cranberries float and that makes it much easier to collect them. So cool, I want to do it!
Before you go thinking that you can get all these benefits by chugging a glass of cranberry juice, think again. Most cranberry juice is loaded sugar and overprocessed, thus your best bet is to enjoy cranberries in the ways we do — freshly pressed, dried, in supplements or as a scrub.
1. Cranberry ACV Cleanser
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is great for gut health, but it is quite sour and can be hard to swallow. It turns out that cranberry is a great balance to ACV’s acidity and lends well to a quick cleansing tonic that can be taken as a shooter or diluted for a kombucha-like beverage. Our favorite recipe combines whole cranberries, fresh apples and lemon with ACV for a seriously delicious drink full of vitamins A & C, phytonutrients, potassium, magnesium, and probiotics.
- 1.5 cups cranberries (fresh or thawed from frozen)
- 2 large apples (opt for a variety with milder flavor, like Fuji or Gala)
- 1 complete lemon (rind and everything!)
- 3 tablespoons of the fresh fruit blend
- 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
For a full beverage, pour the 2 oz shooter over ice and dilute with flat or sparkling water. Enjoy!
2. AZO Cranberry® Caplets
As evidenced by my love for all things “wellness”, I work hard to stay healthy because my active lifestyle depends on feeling good. Nothing kills feeling well quite like a UTI, which is why maintaining urinary tract health is a key part of bodily vitality, and where AZO Cranberry Caplets come in. Out of AZO’s full line of cranberry products, I’m fanning over the Cranberry caplets, which include probiotics, Vitamin C and Pacran® whole cranberry fruit powder to help cleanse and protect my urinary tract. I was stoked to discover that most drugstores sell AZO and that adding two AZO pills into my daily supplement routine delivers the same benefits as one glass of pure cranberry juice. So basically, it is a super quick and low-sugar way to keep myself healthy and on the move!
3. Rose & Cranberry Exfoliating Scrub
As the summer comes to an end, it’s good to exfoliate our skin and get fresh for the change of seasons. Here again cranberries have something to oﬀer. The fruit’s acidity and its tiny seeds are great skin exfoliants, while cranberry’s vitamins C & E get to work on collagen production and thus, skin radiance. There is a whole lot of science behind it and a lot of fancy anti-aging creams that rely on it, but all you really need to know is that topical application of these vitamins improves your skin by fighting oﬀ damaging free radicals and environmental pollutants, and keeping it moisturized. The addition of rose oil gives the scrub a delicate and relaxing scent while also calming skin capillaries to lessen redness and irritation. Better still is that your kitchen cupboard has all or most of the ingredients needed for this natural scrub!
- 1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil (melted)
- 2 cup sea salt
- 7 drops rose essential oil (available at Whole Foods and most natural food stores)
- In a food processor, blend the cranberry, salt, and melted coconut oil until well blended and evenly colored.
- Add this mixture into a bowl.
- Stir in 7 drops of rose essential oil.
- Leave in a sealed container for up 2 weeks. Gift any extra to friends!
4. Quinoa Cranberry Salad
Our final favorite way to reap the benefits of cranberry is a hearty salad that’s perfect for lunch or dinner, and easy to make ahead. This simple recipe is a vegan and gluten free crowd pleaser, the only thing you actually have to think about is finding dried cranberries with minimal or no sugar added.
- 1/4 cup organic white quinoa
- 1/4 cup organic pepitas (roasted, unsalted)
- 1.5 cups organic butternut squash
- 1/4 cup organic unsweetened dried cranberries
- 1 package (2.5 oz) organic micro greens
- 3 cups organic arugula
- extra virgin olive oil
- dijon mustard (optional)
- chili flakes (optional)
- Preheat oven to preheat oven to 400 degrees
- On stovetop, cook quinoa according to package instructions or 2:1 water ratio.
- Peel and cut butternut squash, toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and (optional) chili flakes and place on baking sheet in the oven for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned and soft.
- Let squash and quinoa cool
- In a large bowl, combine micro greens, arugula, pepitas and dried cranberries with the squash and quinoa. Drizzle EVOO and lemon, salt and pepper to taste
(Images by HonestlyFIT. This post was created in partnership with AZO. All opinions are our own)