If you’ve never put cranberries in a smoothie before, get ready to be surprised. For me, it was a revelation, a whole new juicy, wintertime world; bright, sweet, tart, and filled with delightfully astringent refreshment. Like a burst of sun rays through an overcast sky, the long-neglected cranberry boldly announced itself as my newest wintertime staple.
“I am here,” it proclaimed, “to cleanse, purify, nourish, and heal you! Holiday bloat, be gone!”
Cranberries, not surprisingly, use a lot of exclamation points when they speak to you.
Honestly, I had been kind of stumped as to what on earth to do with the leftover cranberries lingering in the produce drawer long after our turkey dinner had disappeared. Since I’ve learned what a thyroid-superstar cranberries are (see The Breakdown below), I couldn’t bear to watch them go to waste. They’re so tart, you don’t often see them in recipes in raw form. More often, they’re cooked down with a bunch of sugar for compotes and chutneys.
That’s unfortunate because fresh cranberries have high levels of phytochemicals, which aid in neutralizing the free-radicals that contribute to cancer and heart disease, as well as clearing the bacteria that causes most UTI’s (E. coli) from your urinary tract. Both the Native Americans and the pilgrims considered the indigenous cranberry good medicine and used it for various applications from treating scurvy, to preventing infection in wounds. Cooking or otherwise processing cranberries (i.e. drying) destroys, or significantly reduces those amazing phytochemicals.
You may be still be thinking, “Smoothies in winter? No thanks.”
I get it. As soon as the snow flies my salad and smoothie consumption takes a major nosedive. Cold food loses its appeal in cold weather. But this blended cranberry beverage may inspire you to reconsider.
The key lies in using seasonal winter fruits, and infusing them with a little gingery “heat.” I discovered this particular combination by accident. In addition to the leftover crans, a neighbor had given us a sack of pears from their fall harvest that needed eating. I also found a couple forgotten oranges in the produce drawer to add some needed juice, and since I was going with most of the other ingredients leftover from our favorite Cranberry Ginger Relish, why not go whole hog and toss in some ginger?
The drink that resulted tasted so appropriate for the weather, I was hooked at first sip. I hesitate to call it a smoothie. It’s more of a frosty, blended, whole-fruit juice.
This ginger-spiked beverage has become my cold-season addiction this winter. Nothing has felt better on a sore and swollen throat, delivering a convenient blast of vitamin C, and helping to clear away throat congestion.
Cranberries and oranges are rather acidic, and since I’m prone to heartburn, this isn’t a smoothie I would consume on the daily. But I sure do enjoy it on occasion. I crave it, in fact.
Alas, I had been craving it for some time when I went to procure more ingredients and found that my grocer was no longer stocking fresh cranberries post holidays. I found the solution in the freezer aisle. Frozen or fresh cranberries work equally well for this recipe.
It took a few tries to re-create this taste treat. I experimented with apples (made it too thick and sweet), and different amounts of ginger (more is better) and fruit. After a few rounds of testing, the combination I settled on met all my criteria. The perfect amount of cranberries bring their flavor to the top of the profile without overpowering the palate. It’s nice and juicy from the right amount of oranges. Finally, a harmonious balance is struck with a touch of maple syrup. You’ll never know it’s in there, but it sure lights the fuse on all that dynamite flavor.
I feel so good after sipping on one of these, and most of all on account of the hypothyroid-specific nutrition. Check it out:
- Cranberries are a natural source of iodine. There tends to be some variation when measuring iodine content in food, but healthbeckon.com states that, “Four ounces of cranberries provide 400 micrograms of iodine, equaling to 267% of the daily value.”
- The thyroid gland depends on iodine to produce thyroid hormone, but both too much and too little can cause thyroid problems such as goiter. Please Note: If you have Hashimoto’s you may benefit from either avoiding iodine in your diet, or at least ensuring you are not selenium deficient, as selenium protects the thyroid from iodine toxicity.
- The phytochemicals found in cranberries aid in reducing inflammation sometimes caused by hypothyroidism.
- Raw cranberries are a very good source of dietary fiber, and have an estimated glycemic load of 2 out of 250, making this food a good choice for weight loss.
- Ginger aids in relieving both the inflammation and the sensitivity to cold sometimes caused by hypothyroidism.