Conscious Cook: Cranberries are the tart and tasty jewels of the Thanksgiving meal

“Gratitude produces deep, abiding joy because we know that God is working in us, even through difficulties.” —Dr. Charles Stanley

An entire day devoted to giving thanks-what a deeply delightful concept! The Thanksgiving holiday can be considered a true beacon of hope, reminding us all that no matter what darkness we face, there is always a bit of light somewhere, inviting us to say “thank you.”

There is a great need in our world to reconnect with gratitude and recognize our blessings. Gratitude is a powerful thought process that will activate a conscious cycle of contentment.

I like to imagine that the Pilgrims were tenacious, joyful and ever so grateful. Despite the numerous and severe challenges they faced adapting to a completely new world, they chose to acknowledge and be thankful for their sustaining gifts of food, shelter, warmth, family and friends.

Thanksgiving is a celebration that embodies all the components of preparing a delicious life. Whether you gather with family for a fine, bountiful meal, welcome new friends into your home, or serve those less fortunate, Thanksgiving is a day of loving life and embracing the goodness of healthy food and happy hearts.

The traditional foods of Thanksgiving are naturally nourishing. Beautifully bronzed turkeys are loaded with heart healthy arginine, which helps relax and open arteries. Tart, tasty cranberries are an antioxidant rich source of vitamin C, while being super low in sodium and fat. These ruby red jewels add bright, vivacious flavor to sauces, chutneys, salsas, stews, cakes, cookies, pies and beverages. Whether mashed, pureed, layered in a gratin or blended into silky soups or delicious desserts, gleaming orange pumpkin, sweet potatoes and squash offer high levels of potassium, vitamins A and C and beta carotene, along with exquisite flavor. The vast array of seasonal vegetables, grains and other ingredients that grace the holiday table are all expressions of love and life.

May your holiday and all your days to come be full of laughter, love and sweet, delicious gratitude.

Conscious Cook Cranberry Sauce

Makes about 4 cups

3 cups fresh cranberries (or frozen is fine)(well washed)

1 1/2 cups apple cider

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or substitute ground if you have to)

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the cranberries have all burst and the sauce has thickened. This will take approximately 15-20 minutes. Let the sauce cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made one week ahead.

Serve warm or cold with roast turkey, chicken or pork. Use any leftover sauce to make cranberry brie bruschetta. On a crisp cracker, toast or crostini, place a piece of very ripe Brie, or spread with goat cheese or cream cheese and top with a dollop of cranberry sauce.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener and a graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.