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Please Don't Eat the Mistletoe!

Repurpose those holiday craft supplies into healthy snacks! Check out our guide to the most nutritious holiday decor.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
December 25, 2013
Episode #265

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Cranberries: High in Nutrition (But There's a Catch)

Cranberries are another seasonal superstar, ranking near the top of the list in terms of high-antioxidant fruits. In particular, cranberries are rich in anthocyanins, the same pigments that make blueberries and other berries so good for you.

Cranberries are also extremely low in sugar. Normally, this would be a good thing, but with cranberries, it's a bit of a catch. Cranberries are usually prepared with lots of added sugar to offset their natural tartness. A quarter cup of dried cranberries, for example, contains about 4 teaspoons of added sugar.  

Fresh, whole berries prepared with a minimum of added sugar are the healthiest way to enjoy the nutritional benefits of cranberries. And you can make a lot of wonderful things with fresh cranberries beyond the ubuiquitous cranberry orange relish!  Martha Stewart has a great recipe for a cranberry avocado salsa, for example, made with fresh cranberries, avocado, onion, lime juice, and just a touch of honey.

Fresh, whole berries prepared with a minimum of added sugar are the healthiest way to enjoy the nutritional benefits of cranberries.

Try adding a handful of whole cranberries to any vegetable curry dish (such as this curried cauliflower with cranberry) or the Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Curry recipe in my book Secrets for a Healthy Diet.  

Cranberries would also be a natural fit with richer-flavored meat like rabbit or lamb. Here's a recipe for a Moroccan style lamb stew with fresh cranberries to jump-start your imagination. And although you may have to hunt for them a bit, you can also find unsweetened dried cranberries to add to granola, muffins, or trail mix. 

A Treat for the Birds

While I do suggest that you set aside some popcorn and cranberries to enjoy as healthy snacks, I don't suggest eating the garland that's been hanging on the tree all month. Instead, drape it around a small tree or bush in the yard when you're done with it and give the birds a wintertime treat.

Please Don't Eat the Mistletoe!

Although today's show is about edible holiday decor, please don't eat the mistletoe.  Although an extract of misteltoe is being studied as an alternative cancer therapy and may have some benefits in ameliorating side effect of chemotherapy, eating the plant can make you (and your dogs and cats) ill.  So hang that mistletoe high out of reach and kiss your loved ones beneath it!

Thanks for another wonderful year! I hope you took every opportunity to eat well and feel fabulous in 2013!

If you have questions or suggestions for topics that you'd like me to tackle in the new year, post them below or on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page.  If you're in the market for a New Year's resolution, check out my episode on setting yourself up for success. And if you've overdone it over the holidays, don't fret. Check out this episode on improving your nutritional grade point average.

Warm wishes for a safe and happy holiday and a healthy new year!

Mistletoe and cranberries decor images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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