Getting creative with cranberries – {Recipe} Cranberry Mushroom Quinoa

If you know me, or come over to my house at Thanksgiving, you know that I LOVE Jellied Cranberry Sauce—seriously—love. While that is a Thanksgiving staple at my house, cranberries are a great fruit year-round for their delicious flavor and impressive health benefits.

Why are they so healthy?

First of all, they’re a fruit and most Americans are not eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Cranberries have an abundance of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which may help protect against diseases like heart disease and cancer. They also have proanthocyanidins (PACs), which can inhibit bacteria like E. coli from sticking to the urinary tract wall. Because these PACs reduce sticking, the bacteria cannot sit and multiply, which is what happens with infections like UTIs (urinary tract infections). In addition to the urinary tract, this may also occur in the mouth and stomach, which may offer benefits related to gum disease and stomach ulcers. Cranberries also contain flavonoids, which are antioxidants that may inhibit LDL oxidation (LDL = low density lipoprotein, or the “lousy” cholesterol). Diets rich in antioxidants may also offer protection against chronic age-related issues like losing coordination and memory. Overall, cranberries provide many positive properties and are a great option to include as part of a healthy, balanced diet. The Cranberry Institute is an excellent resource for more information about the health benefits of cranberries and emerging research.

Dried cranberries

How should I eat them?

Cranberries come in many forms: fresh, frozen, sauce, dried and juice. Because they are tart, cranberries need a bit of sweetness to balance the flavor. Fresh and frozen cranberries are great additions to add more fruit to baked goods or to be made into a homemade cranberry sauce.

Dried cranberries are super versatile. On their own or in trail mix, they make a great snack. They can be swapped into baked goods, scattered over vegetable salads or stirred into whole grain salads. For other ideas on how to incorporate cranberries, visit the Cranberry Marketing Committee’s Recipe Page. Although they are sweetened to make them more palatable, they have a very similar calorie content to other dried fruits:

Apricots, dried (1/4 cup) 78 calories

Cranberries, dried (1/4 cup) 93 calories

Figs, dried (1/4 cup) 93 calories

Plums, dried (1/4 cup) 104 calories

Raisins (1/4 cup) 108 calories

All values obtained from the USDA Nutrient Database of Standard Reference, Release 25 on June 8, 2013

Remember, ¼ cup of dried fruits, like dried cranberries, is equivalent to ½ cup of other fruit. Regardless of what form you choose, cranberries are a great way to add more fruit and antioxidant power to your day. Try cranberries in a different way. Here is a recipe for Cranberry Mushroom Quinoa, which combines the savory flavors of mushrooms and onions with the sweetness of cranberries. Try it hot, cold, on the side or in a chopped salad. Enjoy!

Cranberry Mushroom Quinoa

Cranberry Mushroom Quinoa

Ingredients:

2 cups water

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

~4 oz. white mushrooms (5-6 mushrooms), sliced or chopped

Sea salt, dash

Fresh ground pepper, dash

Garlic powder, dash

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Begin to heat 2 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil. In a pan, heat olive oil and sauté yellow onions until soft and golden. Add mushrooms, lightly sprinkle with sea salt, ground pepper and garlic powder and continue to cook until soft.  Add mushrooms and onions to pot of boiling water. Add rinsed quinoa to the pot and stir. Cook according to quinoa directions (covered over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally). Remove from heat and stir in dried cranberries. Let rest for about 5 minutes and serve.

{Disclosure: I work with the Cranberry Institute and Cranberry Marketing Committee. I was compensated for my time to write this post. All opinions (and recipes) stated are my own.}

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Comments
One Response to “Getting creative with cranberries – {Recipe} Cranberry Mushroom Quinoa”
  1. Susan Litwer says:

    great idea! printed recipe. now we just have to get your dad used to eating quinoa!

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