What would our Thanksgiving Day feasts be without cranberries? This staple of our holiday dinner has a long, proud history in the United States. According to the Cranberry Marketing Committee (uscranberries.com), Native Americans used cranberries as a food staple as early as 1550. They ate them fresh and mashed them with cornmeal and baked them into bread. They used maple sugar or honey to sweet them. They also mixed cranberries with wild game and melted fat to make pemmican.
My mother loved decorating for the holidays. From the tree in the den to the lights around all the windows and a big Santa decal on the front door, she was all in. She would also hang a sprig of (fake) mistletoe, complete with sharp-
A new year is the perfect time to try new things. Recently a friend who is into essential oils and aromatherapy told me about ylang ylang. She touted its many benefits – they range from head to toe – and offered to get some for me, but I wanted to do some research on the substance first before committing myself. Ylang ylang is becoming very popular in a wide variety of cosmetic products these days, so perhaps you’d like to learn more about it, too.
When something (or someone) is bland and unexciting, we usually say they are like vanilla. Simple, colorless, ordinary, easily overlooked – that describes vanilla accurately, right? Well, not exactly. The more you learn about vanilla – its origins, its popularity and what it takes to get it to our pantry shelves – you may refrain from ever describing anything or anyone as “just plain vanilla.”
Have you ever suffered through a bout of insomnia and had someone tell you to try drinking a cup of chamomile tea to help you sleep? Chamomile is a daisy-
Barley is one of the oldest domesticated cereal grains still being grown around the world today. It originated in Ethiopia and southeast Asia. It is most often used in bread and malted beverages such as beer (barley beer was likely one of the first alcoholic drinks humans developed). Over the centuries, barley water has been used for various medicinal purposes; it is good for clearing up urinary tract infections and is also said to be a good remedy for kidney stones.
Remember the scene in “The Wizard of Oz,” where the Cowardly Lion, awaiting his turn before Oz the Great and Powerful, sings a song about courage and asks, “Who put the ‘ape’ in ‘apricot’?” Well, thankfully, no one did. Who would eat it then? Instead we have a juicy fruit that has been around since ancient times and is enjoyed either fresh or dried. You can also indulge in apricot brandy or jam. The word “apricot” comes from a term meaning “early ripening.”
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ginkgo biloba is one of the best-
Ginseng is one of the most popular herbal medicines in the world, according to WebMD. The plant gets its name from a Chinese term meaning “person plant root” because the root is shaped like human legs. There are 11 species of ginseng. (Many other herbs are called ginseng, but they do not contain the active ingredient ginsenosides.) Ginseng grows in North America, where it is endangered in the wild, as well as Asia and Korea. It is especially prevalent in traditional Chinese medicine and holistic healing arts.
Who didn’t grow up watching those Popeye cartoons and envying the sassy sailor his guns, which popped up from his previously puny arms right after he ate a can of spinach? And who, despite that, didn’t turn up his or her nose when Mom put a bowl of spinach on the dinner table? Luckily, we’ve come a long way from despising spinach. It has quickly evolved into a must-
Although quinoa (pronounced keenwah) is the new trendy superfood, in reality it’s been around for thousands of years. It was the “mother grain” of the ancient Andean civilization; the Incans considered it sacred. It has recently been revived as a new crop of global interest.
OK, so it’s not really beautiful, what with all its spikes (its name means “thorny fruit”) and its inside pulp with its wrinkled appearance. And it smells awful, making you question the wisdom of opening it. It’s durian, an exotic fruit from Malaysia that is slowly making inroads to the United States.
You almost have to feel sorry for school kids today. So many of them have peanut allergies, which means they are missing out on enjoying that age-
Peanuts are a great healthy snack. According to Planters.com (and they know their peanuts), eating nuts in moderation – including peanuts and most tree nuts....
If you were like most kids, you probably turned up your nose at peas when they appeared on your dinner plate – and held your nose as you ate them. Hopefully, you are now mature enough to realize how very good for you peas are, and you no longer leave them to roll around on your plate untouched.
Most likely when you think of macadamia nuts, you think of Hawaii. In reality, macadamia is a genus of trees that are native to Australia. There are at least seven species of macadamia trees, but only two of them produce fruit that is non-
When autumn arrives, the seasonal decorations come out. Among the cornstalks and scarecrows you’ll undoubtedly find see squat orange shapes and you’ll know it’s pumpkin time again.
Pumpkins, a cultivar of the squash plant, are also known as winter squash. They are native to North America, and according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the Land of Lincoln....
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What would our Thanksgiving Day feasts be without cranberries? This staple of our holiday dinner has a long, proud history in the United States. According to the Cranberry Marketing Committee (uscranberries.com), Native Americans used cranberries as a food staple as early as 1550. They ate them fresh and mashed them with cornmeal and baked them into bread. They used maple sugar or honey to sweet them. They also mixed cranberries with wild game and melted fat to make pemmican. They made cranberry poultices to draw poison from arrow wounds and used cranberry juice as a dye.
Cranberries are low, creeping shrubs or vines with slender, wiry stems and small evergreen leaves. German settlers called them crane berries because the blossom resembles the head and neck of a crane. Early New Englanders called them bearberries because bears often ate them (the berries, not the early New Englanders). More than 100 varieties of cranberries grow in North America. They are primarily grown in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Oregon, Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington. These areas have the special conditions cranberries require, such as sandy soil and abundant fresh water. Cranberries are harvested by flooding the bogs and marshes where they grow with 6 to 8 inches of water. The floating cranberries are then easily scooped up. Most cranberries are processed into juice, sauce and sweetened dried cranberries.
Cranberries may be small, but they are packed with nutrients that offer a variety of health benefits. Cranberries have plenty of antioxidant, anti-
One controversy surrounding cranberries is the question about their effectiveness in treating or preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs). It is said cranberries help prevent bacteria from attaching to the lining of the urinary tract. A comprehensive review in 2012 of available research concluded there is no evidence that cranberry juice or cranberry extract tablets or capsules are effective in preventing urinary tract infections. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says a cause and effect relationship has not been established between using certain cranberry products and reducing the risk of developing a UTI. Yet another more recent study from 2017 showed cranberry products significantly reduced the incidence of recurring urinary tract infections. These variations probably result from inconsistencies in clinical factors and study methods, says the EFSA. Your best bet is to ask your doctor about using cranberry if you have a UTI.
From salads to relishes to cookies and many other dishes in between (including cocktails), cranberries are very versatile. The cranberry is the state fruit of Wisconsin, which provides over half of the U.S. production of cranberries, making it the nation’s leading cranberry producer. Nov. 23 is Eat a Cranberry Day. Even if you don’t live in the Badger State, it’ll do you good to incorporate cranberries in your daily diet – not just on Nov. 23 (and not just one).
Tanya Tyler is the Editor of Health & Wellness Magazine