The Foodie

Cranberries, Kohlrabi Sweet Potatoes

What’s Fresh in November: Cranberries, Kohlrabi and Sweet Potatoes

November 04, 2008
by Erin Harris
What better time to celebrate seasonal food than the month when Americans dedicate an entire holiday to eating? This November, branch out from the usual staples of winter squash and baked potatoes and try a dish of sweet, braised kohlrabi. Or find another use for cranberries and sweet potatoes and use them to highlight more meals than just Thanksgiving dinner.

Cranberries

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Before gracing the Thanksgiving dinner table, cranberries were used by the Native Americans to treat arrow wounds and to dye fabric. According to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, it is one of only three commercially grown fruits—along with blueberries and Concord grapes—that originated in North America. When selecting cranberries, choose plump, shiny ones that bounce when dropped. Seal them in a bag and store it in the refrigerator.

Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins (PACs), nutrients that help purge the body of bacteria that cause gum disease, ulcers and urinary tract infections. Studies suggest that antioxidants in the berries may also prevent such chronic ailments as heart disease. Cranberries deliver health benefits in almost any form, whether eaten fresh, dried, in sauce or juiced. Ocean Spray explains how cranberries are good for your heart, bones, mouth and more.
   
Warm, buttery scones with just a hint of tart cranberry are the perfect treat for a cold day. Bonus: a warm oven means a cozy home. Flickr user Tara Anderson has a great recipe for Cranberry Scones, proving that the fruit is more than just turkey’s sidekick. Have a batch ready in case friends or family drop by during the holiday season.

Kohlrabi

Often mistaken for roots, kohlrabi bulbs actually grow above ground and belong to the same family as cabbage. They can be eaten raw, steamed, stir-fried or grated into slaws and are widely used in Central European and Asian cooking. Similar in taste to turnips and radishes, kohlrabi is slightly sweeter than both. Iowa State University recommends selecting smaller bulbs, which have a more delicate flavor and advises that white kohlrabi is sweeter than its spicy purple counterpart.

Like its relatives, cabbage and broccoli, kohlrabi is a good source of potassium and fiber. It can also help you satisfy your daily requirement for vitamin C. According to natural health newsletter Mercola, kohlrabi may also stabilize blood sugar levels, making it a great vegetable for diabetics to incorporate into their diets.

Straight from the Farm’s recipe for Kohlrabi and Squash Empanadas adds garlic, ginger and nutmeg to the two vegetables and stuffs them into pockets of dough that are baked to golden brown. Inspired by an Argentinean treat, these spicy pouches are easy to recreate and leave a lot of room for kitchen creativity/improv: add your own favorite vegetable to the kohlrabi filling.

Sweet Potatoes

Two main varieties of sweet potatoes are grown in the United States, the paler of which shares a dry, flaky texture with the white Irish potato. The darker orange variety is sweeter and moister when cooked, and are often mistaken for a yam. Sweet potatoes, in fact, are entirely unrelated to yams, which grow in tropical climates in South America, the Caribbean and Africa. Recipezaar’s Kitchen Dictionary advises against refrigerating sweet potatoes as it results in a hard core and alters their taste unpleasantly.

Research from Kansas State University suggests that the nutrients in sweet potatoes have strong anti-inflammatory properties, which help reduce symptoms of asthma and arthritis. Their impressive vitamin A content—one spud contains more than 200 percent of your daily amount—might protect smokers and those exposed to second-hand smoke from developing emphysema. Read more about the research, along with the other health benefits of eating sweet potatoes at the World’s Healthiest Foods.

Use up those leftovers the smart way. EatingWell’s Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash recipe combines “healthy sweet potatoes, apples and onions along with lean turkey or chicken.” Everyone is looking to cut back on the calories after Thanksgiving and this dish is the perfect way to follow up Turkey Day without having to decide between wasting food and sabotaging your waistline.
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