December 15th, 2017

From Our Table: Cranberry salsa could be your next seasonal hit

By Medicine Hat News on November 21, 2017.

Submitted Photo
Cranberry Salsa is succulent, stunning and nutritious, says Joanne Smith.

It’s time to start gearing up for the Christmas season. Christmas Day is just a short 34 days away and that means Christmas parties and get togethers with friends are likely in full swing.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being introduced to one of the most succulent salsa recipes I’ve ever had. It was at my friend Natalie Motz’s home and she generously agreed to share the recipe. Not only was it delicious it looked stunning. We all said right away that it looked so Christmas-y to us. It would be the perfect appetizer to serve at your own Christmas party or to take with you to someone else’s party.

So not only is it succulent and stunning it’s also got some very nutritious ingredients especially the colossal cranberry.

Cranberries have typically had far less attention then their family member the blueberry. However they are every bit as nutritious. They are packed with all important phytonutrients some of which give them their vibrant rich red colour. This is the first clue that they are full of nutrients. A general rule of thumb with fruits and vegetables is the deeper and darker the colour the more nutrients it has. For example, spinach has more nutrients then celery and is a much darker deeper green. Most of the phytonutrients have antioxidant properties which protect cells in our body as well as anti-inflammatory properties.

Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are unwanted conditions in our cardiovascular system since they increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. So cranberries are a nutritious way to decrease these risk factors.

Cranberries are also an excellent source of fibre which is really important for good bowel health and to help regulate blood sugars. They are also rich in vitamin C and manganese.

Cranberries have also been shown to help treat and prevent urinary tract infections.

It’s interesting to note that more than 80 per cent of cranberry production is in North America so it’s very close to home. They are actually native to North America and have never become widely naturalized to other parts of the world. They like our soil best!

Cranberries grow naturally in bogs, grassy marshes and forested swamps or other types of wetland habitats. Some of these bogs are made by nature while others have some help from man made elements. They take about 16 months to fully mature and are usually planted in late spring of year one then lie dormant in winter and are mature by fall the second year.

These ruby red treasures have an abundance of benefits and are a perfect plus any time but especially make a festive addition at the Christmas season.

You will be the hit of the party when you serve this delicious dish over the next few weeks. Enjoy the season and remember the reason we celebrate!

Joanne Smith is a registered dietitian.

Cranberry Salsa by Rachel Farnsworth

12 ounces of fresh cranberries

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

2 minced jalapenos

1/4 cup cilantro leaves minced

2 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

Wash cranberries well and drain all water off. Pick through and throw away any that are soft or bruised. Put the cranberries in a food processor or blender and pulse until finely chopped but not mushy.

Put chopped cranberries into a bowl and add green onion, jalapenos, cilantro and ginger. Pour lemon juice and sugar over cranberry mixture and stir to mix together.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavours to develop. It will be a bit tart to begin with but as its allowed to sit it will develop even more flavour.

To serve put a half a block of cream cheese on a medium sized serving dish. Pour some of the salsa over top and serve the rest of the salsa in a small bowl beside. Best served with rice crackers so you can fully taste the flavour of the salsa.

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