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Simple Cranberry Recipes for the Holiday Season
Cranberry-up your holiday meal by trying some of these tasty and simple sides.

Cranberries are delicious and healthy fruits that can add big bursts of flavor to any dish.

The cranberry is a Native American fruit that grows on trailing vines like a strawberry and thrives in wetland areas called bogs. Cranberries are harvested in September and October. The most common technique for harvesting is known as a "wet" harvest, which involves flooding the bogs with water to float the fruit for easy collection. During the winter the frozen water insulates and protects the vines.

The North American cranberry has a distinguished history. Native Americans used cranberries as food, in ceremonies, and medicinally. Revolutionary War veteran Henry Hall planted the first commercial cranberry beds in Dennis, Massachusetts in 1816. Today they are farmed on approximately 40,000 acres across the northern United States and Canada.

Cranberries are available in a variety of product forms including: fresh, juice, dried and sauce. Cranberries are considered a healthy fruit. They contain no cholesterol and virtually no fat and are low in sodium. In addition, they contain significant amounts of antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may help protect against heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Cranberries also contain bacteria-blocking compounds that are helpful in preventing urinary tract infections, and possibly ulcers and gum disease.

As traditional as cranberries are during the holidays, and a staple of a Thanksgiving meal, you may be wondering if they are safe for a certain age groups. Cranberries may be introduced in either a cooked, juiced or sauce form to children of more than 12 months and in a dried form to children of more than 18 months. With that, here are some very simple ways to cranberry-up your holiday season.

Easy Cranberry Sauce
16 ounces of fresh cranberries
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup fresh orange juice or water

Directions: Combine ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the berries pop open (about 10 minutes). Skim the foam off the surface with a metal spoon and discard. Cool to room temperature.

Storage: Cover and refrigerate for up to three months.

Creamy Cranberry Dipping Sauce
3/4 cup, 100 percent cranberry raspberry (or grape) juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

Directions: Place juice into a small saucepan. Boil until reduced to a syrup (about 3 tablespoons). Allow to cool. Add syrup to remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Chill and serve with a variety of fresh fruit slices.

Cranberry Mustard Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup jellied cranberry sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions: Combine ingredients in a small mixing bowl, whisking until smooth. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serve with raw/blanched veggies, baked tofu, chicken fingers or fish sticks.

Cranberry Add-ons
If you’re feeling a little rushed or if you’re just looking to incorporate cranberries into the festivities while adding them to your favorite snacks or desserts, here are five more ways to use our little red, round friends:

Football snack
Add dried cranberries to any nut mixture

Sprinkle dried cranberries on mixed green or spinach salad. The sweetness of the cranberries is terrific with any vinaigrette dressing and is a great compliment to crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese.

Side dish
Add dried cranberries to your favorite stuffing, wild rice, or couscous recipe.

Sauté onions, diced zucchini and dried cranberries in olive oil. Season with a dash of turmeric, cinnamon and rep pepper flakes. Great taste and awesome color!

All American apple pie
Add 1/2 cup of fresh cranberries to your favorite apple pie recipe.

Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the "So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week" and "So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years." Visit Cheryl online at www.FreshBaby.com to sign up for her newsletter and her blog feed.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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