When planning festive Holiday dishes to serve family and friends on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day, cranberries are sure to make it onto the shopping list.
Cranberry dishes have become an indispensable part of the traditional American and Canadian Thanksgiving with jewel-like cranberry sauce invariably on the menu
Cranberries, are one the few commercial fruits native to North America and may very well have been served at the first Thanksgiving feast.
Native Americans were using wild cranberries long before the Europeans arrived. They ate the fruit, of course, but also used cranberries to dye fabrics and mixed them into a poultice to treat wounds.
Today, low-creeping cranberry shrubs with long-running vines produce tart berries in sandy bogs and marshes in a number of North American states and Canadian Provinces.
Most medical and nutrition professionals recommend a diet high in fruits and vegetables for optimal health and cranberry consumption has long been thought to impart health benefits.
For generations, cranberry juice consumption has been recommended as an agent against bacterial infections, particularly urinary tract infections.
It was thought that the acidity of the fruit was responsible, however recent research have shown that it is the phytochemical proanthocyanidins (PACs) in cranberries, which act as a barrier to the bacteria.
Research studies have also attributed anti-cancer properties to the unique components present in cranberries.
According to a 2005 study at Cornell University, cranberries were shown to inhibit growth of several cancer cell lines in vitro and cranberry phytochemical extracts were shown to significantly inhibit specific human breast cancer cell proliferation.
The potential health benefits attributed to cranberry consumption are not the only reasons to eat cranberries.
These beautiful berries lend themselves to many delightful dishes that please the palate, like Wholesome Cranberry Chutney. This vegan dish, created by Lissa Coffey for VegTV makes a gorgeous addition to any table.
Wholesome Cranberry Chutney (Video)
This is an easy cranberry dish, made delicious without any added sugar.
1 (16 ounce pkg.) fresh cranberries
1 cup water
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup Organic Zero
1/2 cup Organic Blue Agave Nectar
1 cup dried apricots, quartered
1 cup seedless green grapes
1 cup celery, chopped
1 large apple, cubed and unpeeled
1/2 cup from jar of cocktail onions, drained
4 lemon slices (1/2 lemon)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
Rinse cranberries, place in 2-quart saucepan with water, and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until berries begin to burst, about 4 minutes. Add cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves, salt, Organic Zero and Organic Blue Agave. Increase heat to medium and add remaining ingredients in order listed. Bring to a slow boil, stir, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Mixture will be fragrant and thickened. Remove cinnamon sticks, add sunflower seeds, cool and refrigerate.
Wholesome Cranberry Chutney
Nutrition Analysis: per serving: 1/2 cup
Protein 2g, Carbohydrate: 24g, Fiber 3g, Fat 3g, Sat Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0.0mg, Calcium 24mg, Sodium 106mg.
Marie Oser is a best-selling author, writer/producer and host of VegTV, Follow Marie on Twitter: http://twitter.com/vegtv
 Tempera G, Corsello S, Genovese C et al. Inhibitory activity of cranberry extract on the bacterial adhesiveness in the urine of women: an ex-vivo study. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2010 Apr-Jun;23(2):611-8. 2010.
 Katsargyris A, Tampaki EC, Giaginis C, Theocharis S. Cranberry as Promising Natural Source of Potential Anticancer Agents: Current Evidence and Future Perspectives. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2011 Oct 25. [Epub ahead of print]
 Sun J, Hai Liu R. Cranberry phytochemical extracts induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in human MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Cancer Lett. 2006 Sep 8;241(1):124-34. Epub 2005 Dec 27.