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Happy November!

The holiday season may be arriving too quickly for many of us, but this information on cranberries should get us excited for the holidays ahead. As a fruit that is harvested in October, cranberries remind many Americans of winter and most importantly, Thanksgiving! The wild cranberry, native to northeastern North America, was gathered by Native Americans and used in cooking, as dye for textiles and as medicine since the mid-1500s. Cranberries were eaten fresh, dried, or mashed with cornmeal and baked to make bread. Native Americans also made pemmican, an energy bar of sorts, with mixed dried berries, dried wild game and fat tallow. Cranberries and other tart berries were added as a preservative due to their high acid content which helped resist bacteria. High in protein and fat, pemmican was a reliable energy source on long journeys.

Cranberries have many health benefits. They are most widely known to help maintain urinary tract health; however, the exact mechanism of action continues to be researched. Cranberries may also help regulate blood sugars in individuals with Type-2 diabetes and may reduce inflammation which may help lower blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk.

One cup of whole cranberries is only 50 calories, 5 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar and 22 percent of your daily value of vitamin C. Although fresh, raw cranberries are very tart and they can be incorporated into various foods. Try adding sliced cranberries to yogurt, mix with other fresh fruits and drizzle with honey or toss into a salad. If raw cranberries are not your favorite, try dried cranberries, cranberry juice or cranberry sauce. Unless you are making these items in your home, remember to check the labels and serving sizes as many of these packaged items contain large amounts of added sugar!

Interesting Facts

  • Sailors brought cranberries onboard to prevent scurvy, a disease due to vitamin C deficiency.
  • The cranberry is one of only a handful of major fruits native to North America. Others include the blueberry and Concord grape.
  • Americans consume nearly 400 million pounds of cranberries a year; 20 percent are consumed during the holiday season.
Root Vegetables

Fall has arrived; time to indulge in your favorite hearty root vegetables. You will see many root vegetables on campus this month, some of which may be new to you, so go ahead, give them a try! Roots are the anchosr to plants, providing them strength and stability, hence why many of them are so nutritionally dense. Roots absorb significant amounts of nutrients from the soil they grow in; therefore it is important to choose organic root veggies when possible as pesticides strongly affect their quality and safety.

Look out for carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga and perhaps a few more on the menu this month. Read below for information on each.

Carrot: We all know that Bugs Bunny has great vision! Carrots are a wonderful source of beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A then travels to the retinas to protect against macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. Eat raw on salads or with your favorite dip such as hummus or cooked in soups, stews or as a roasted side.

Potato: Have no fear, the white potato is good for you, but has been given a bad reputation because of how it is often prepared. Try baking, boiling or roasting instead! Yes, they are rich in starch so moderation is key. Try making a vegetable medley, with potatoes and several other non-starchy veggies. Remember to keep the skins on to retain fiber content.

Onion & Garlic: Both are readily used in cooking as they add flavor to any dish. They are considered heart-healthy veggies that increase circulation and reduce inflammation.

Turnip: This vegetable has very high water content making it low in calories. They are a great source of Vitamin C. Try eating them raw as a snack or chop and add to soups and stews.

Parsnip: This root vegetable has more than double the amount of fiber of potatoes and is a good source of folic acid. Try roasting parsnips in a little oil which preserves folic acid better than boiling or pureeing.

Rutabaga: This veggie is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. As a cruciferous vegetable, it tends to be more rich in flavor and odorous when cooked. Try boiling and mashing into mashed potatoes for a flavorful, yet lighter side-dish.

Try to buy most of your root vegetables with green stems intact, that way you can better predict freshness, but remember to remove all but about 2 inches of the stems when storing to prevent moisture loss.

Time to root for your favorite root vegetables and enjoy them all season long!