Cranberry Superfood Spread

Cranberry Superfood Spread 1

You’ll all be pleased to know I had a fabulous vacation. As I’m catching up on the thousands of emails I received while away, I’m honored to bring you one last guest post from one of my favorite bloggers, Katie of Girl Meets Nourishment. Thanks, Katie!

Cranberries are underrated. To me, these little red berries are a superfood when in their simple, whole, and natural form.

The way they are processed in today’s modern food does not do them justice. You can get cranberry juice off the shelf at the store, that’s more-times-than-not been pasteurized (essentially making a completely denatured sugar water devoid of any nutritional value) or a can of cranberry-like jelly you see around Thanksgiving.

I firmly believe in buying cranberries in their natural berry form and making what I need from them myself. This way I can control how the cranberries are prepared, protecting the amazing benefits, nutrients, and antioxidants of such a lovely little fruit. Let’s dive into the cranberry bogs and learn more!

Cranberry Spread

What are Cranberries?

Cranberries, a relative of the blueberry, are small, red, and acidic. There are two types of cranberries. First is the small-fruited cranberry which are a dark red color and are about the size of an uncracked peppercorn. The small-fruited cranberry is found mostly in the marshy wetlands of Asia, central and northern Europe, and the northern parts of North America.

The second type of cranberry, and more commonly known, is the American cranberry. It is found mostly in the Northeastern and Northwestern part of the United States. These berries are much larger, usually around the size of a marble, and range in color from a hint of pink to deep maroon.

How are Cranberries Grown?

Cranberries grow in bogs, which are marshy wetlands. They grow on long green vines and reach their peak of ripeness in the Fall season. Cranberries were originally painstakingly picked by hand off the vines, but over time cranberry growers began “wet harvesting” the berries but flash flooding the bogs. This caused the berries to release from the vine and float to the surface.

Like most commercially grown produce, cranberries are also grown with pesticides and can be genetically modified (just say no to GMOs!). It’s important to buy organic cranberries whenever possible as this is the only way to ensure it is GMO-free and grown free of pesticides.

What’s so Great about Cranberries?

Cranberries may be little, but they sure pack a nourishing punch! Pilgrims believed that the berries prevented scurvy and Native American’s used the berries for medicinal purposes, often to fight infections. They are packed with vitamin C, fiber, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant power. But hold up! It’s time for a mini-lesson in antioxidants so you can truly grasp how great these little berries are:

Antioxidants is a word you’ve undoubtedly heard before. It seems like everything now-a-days has antioxidant properties! But what exactly does the word antioxidants mean? Eating foods that have antioxidants in them are believed to protect the body from “free radicals”, which are cells that have been damaged. These “free radicals” are missing an important molecule, so they wreak havoc on your body by searching out a healthy molecule to pair with; which in turn robs that molecule of what keeps it healthy and damages that cell’s DNA. Antioxidants help keep “free radicals” in check. Composed of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, the antioxidants help repair the damage to cells that free radicals have gotten a hold of and helps keep your immune system strong.

In the case of antioxidants, cranberries outrank almost all other fruits and vegetables out there (beating out the likes of cherries, red grapes, and broccoli)! It doesn’t get any better than these little red berries.

Another component in cranberries also helps to prevent very painful urinary tract infections by binding with bad bacteria (like staph and E. Coli), and stopping it from attaching to cell walls.

Cranberry Superfood Spread

After we switched to real food, my husband and I stopped buying jam and jelly from the store. I started to miss the deliciously sweet fruit spread and thought I would experiment in the kitchen to make something jam-like to spread on sourdough toast and on sourdough peanut butter and jellies. I came up with this delicious cranberry spread that is husband and health approved!
Cranberry Spread

The Players

The How-To

1. Place the cranberries, water, rapadura, salt, and coconut oil in a pot and cook over medium heat for fifteen minutes.
Cranberry Spread
2. Add in the cinnamon and cook another ten minutes or until the water has evaporated completely and the cranberries have “popped” open and start to thicken. Turn off the heat and mix in the vanilla.
Cranberry Spread
3. Place in a mason jar and allow to cool completely on the counter. Cover tightly with the lid and store in the fridge for up to a week (if it lasts that long!).
Cranberry Spread
Cheerio!

Katie

Sources:
1. Merriam Webster: Cranberry
2. WebMD: Cranberry Superfood
3. WebMD: Antioxidants
4. WebMD: How Antioxidants Work
5. NBC News: Cranberry Benefits
6. NPR: Cranberries
7. Ocean Spray: How Cranberries are Grown
8. Cranberries.org
9. USDA: GMOs

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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17 Responses to Cranberry Superfood Spread
  1. Jen @TheFitHousewife
    March 15, 2013 | 5:28 pm

    This looks amazing, I love all the healthy ingredients. I’ll be making this :)

  2. Natalie H
    March 15, 2013 | 8:09 pm

    Do you think this would work equally well with maple syrup? Sounds yummy.

    • Katie
      March 15, 2013 | 8:13 pm

      Hey Natalie,

      I think maple syrup would work excellent with this! In fact, I have even tried it. :) I usually add my sugar (or sweetener) and taste as I go until I reach my desired sweetness-to-tartness ratio.

      Hope you enjoy it!
      Katie

  3. Erin
    March 15, 2013 | 9:25 pm

    Are you sure there are GMO cranberries on the market? I am concerned about GMOs as well but very few types of GMO fruits and vegetables are available on the US market.
    http://truefoodnow.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/cfs-shoppers-guide.pdf

    • Frederica
      September 19, 2013 | 9:28 am

      Choose organic, not because of the risk of GMO in this case, but because of pesticides.

  4. Erin
    March 15, 2013 | 9:28 pm
  5. Wendy W.
    March 16, 2013 | 9:19 am

    Is there no way to print this recipe? I’d love to try it.

    • Katie
      March 16, 2013 | 1:37 pm

      Hello Wendy!

      Here is the recipe without the pictures. :)

      Cranberry Superfood Spread

      The Players

      2 cups organic frozen or fresh cranberries
      2 tablespoons coconut oil
      1/4 cup water
      6 tablespoons of rapadura (or more if you like it sweeter)
      1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
      1/2 teaspoon vanilla
      dash of sea salt (optional)

      The How-To

      1. Place the cranberries, water, rapadura, salt, and coconut oil in a pot and cook over medium heat for fifteen minutes.

      2. Add in the cinnamon and cook another ten minutes or until the water has evaporated completely and the cranberries have “popped” open and start to thicken. Turn off the heat and mix in the vanilla.

      3. Place in a mason jar and allow to cool completely on the counter. Cover tightly with the lid and store in the fridge for up to a week (if it lasts that long!).

      Hope you enjoy it!
      Katie

      • Wendy W.
        March 16, 2013 | 5:43 pm

        Oh, thank you! I love your site and have learned so much!

    • KristenM
      March 19, 2013 | 4:56 pm

      Sorry! I used to have a Print-Friendly plugin on the site, but it had technical issues so I had to remove it. I’ve still not yet found a suitable printer plugin that works well with all the other code on my site. :(

      • Katie
        March 20, 2013 | 11:26 am

        No worries, Kristen! I am still on the hunt for a recipe print plug-in myself…a good one is hard to come by! Thanks again for hosting my post!! :)

        - Katie

  6. Bridgett
    April 20, 2013 | 4:26 pm

    Wow cranberries look yummy. I am gonna make some. thanks

  7. Janet
    September 19, 2013 | 8:59 am

    you have a link for buying rapadura, but when I went on this site it said it could not find it

  8. Sylvestra
    September 19, 2013 | 10:04 am

    Katie,
    The spread looks good, but I’m concerned about your antioxidant lesson.

    Free radicals are atoms or molecules that are missing a single electron that go zooming around “looking” for an electron to pair with. This activity is what causes damage to cells as it literally blows holes in cells and DNA. Antioxidants generally have a stable but free electron for the free radical to pair with and thereby halt the free radical’s random rapid movement. They also mitigate the damage done by free radicals.

    While even this explaination is a simplification, more can be found on the internet on the subject.

  9. tiffany
    September 19, 2013 | 1:41 pm

    Could you freeze this?

  10. Leslie
    September 19, 2013 | 4:21 pm

    This sounds yummy but I’m wondering if coconut sugar would work well in place of rapadura. I’m guessing so but thought I’d ask just in case!

    Thanks!
    Leslie

  11. Carrissa
    November 8, 2013 | 1:17 pm

    I just made this and it is fantastic!! Does it really only last 1 week in the fridge though?

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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