Now I never would have said that red is a particularly favourite colour of mine, although I did use a bit of red lippy in my punker phase of the 80s. I think I’ve always found it a bit bold for my laid-back personal style. But when it comes to food, that’s a completely different story—beetroot, pomegranate, tomatoes…and one of my oldest favourites, cranberries. I know I called pomegranates the “jewels of Christmas” in one of my posts, but really, I probably associate cranberries even more with the holiday season. I can remember stringing popcorn and cranberries with a needle and thread for hours to make a garland for our Christmas tree. Sadly that tradition went by the wayside when my mother purchased a plastic replica of the garland, which I think she still uses to this day. I’m sure if I asked her about it, she’d say that we all begged her to buy it so we didn’t have to sit there poking our fingertips with the needle, although I suspect it was really so she wasn’t vacuuming broken popcorn kernels along with pine needles for days on end. And then there’s cranberry sauce… who can resist that?
Aside from their luscious look, cranberries are in the top tier of super foods with powerful antioxidants like polyphenols and good hits of Vitamin C along with fibre. Cranberries are well known to support a healthy urinary tract and prevent UTIs by reducing bacteria in the bladder and preventing it from attaching to the urinary tract. It’s a mainstay of my nutritional medicine armour for clients prone to UTIs. Cranberries might also help prevent stomach ulcers, as they inhibit H. pylori, the bacteria associated with ulcer formation. Other studies into the possible benefits for cardiovascular health and immune function, as well as integrated cancer treatment are ongoing. All in all, this is one bold red!
Cranberries are one of the few fruits native to North America and fresh frozen can be pretty hard to come by here in Australia. I was delighted to find them in my first Australian Costco adventure last week, so delighted in fact, that I bought 3kgs of them. Since that’s a lot of cranberry sauce, I’ve started experimenting with other ways to enjoy my bulk buy. Cranberries are great in baking, in smoothies and a great compliment to proteins like chicken and pork (not to mention turkey). The first test kitchen recipe are these little Cranberry Power Muffins —gluten free and Paleo friendly!
1 1/2 cups of almond flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of sea salt
4 eggs, lightly whisked
2-3 tbs organic raw honey
4 tbs organic coconut oil (melted)
1 tsp of organic vanilla essence
Pinch of vanilla powder (I use Loving Earth) or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup unsweetened frozen cranberries
Juice from 1 and a half oranges (you may need the other half later)
1/4-1/2 cup coconut water (for thinning mixture)
1/4 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
Zest from 2 oranges
2 x 12 Silicone mini muffin baking tray, lightly smeared with a little coconut oil
- Pre-heat oven to 180-degrees C .
- Combine flours, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine eggs, honey, orange juice and blossom water, coconut oil, vanilla powder, bean seeds and zest.
- Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, while stirring. The mixture will be quite thick.
- Gently fold in the cranberries. Add coconut water in small quantities to thin the mixture to a thick batter consistency (you may or may not need entire 1/2 cup).
- Spoon mixture in the silicone muffin tray (filled to rim)—should yield 24-26 mini muffins.
- Cook for 20 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean, muffins are ready.
- Gently remove from tray and cool on a wire rack. Store in refrigerator for up to 4 days if you can wait that long!
Cranberries, unlike a lot of other fruit, remain tart when cooked so you may need to adjust the sweetness to your own personal tastes. Personally I love the tangy tartness! For a bit more post workout protein, you could easily add a protein powder to the dry mix and add a bit more juice or coconut water.
Health Note: Cranberries contain oxalates, which could increase the risk of kidney stone formation in susceptible individuals. The berries are also high in Vitamin K and may have additive effects in those taking blood thinners. Please check with your healthcare provider for more information.