Uh oh. Woke up with a headache, the threat of a sore throat, eyes glued shut. Bones ached as I went to stand. A hot shower didn’t melt the congestion, and the fog ’round the brain just got thicker.
Stumbling in the dark trying to get dressed, I couldn’t sense the time. Whatever time it is, I thought, it is absolutely time for one thing ~ a wake me up, shake this off, Vitamin C Blast!
Fortunately, once in the kitchen, I found lemons in the fruit basket, a bag of fresh cranberries in the refrigerator, and the usual dried cranberries we keep around for breakfast cereal or afternoon snacks. I put a pot of water on the stove and popped the cranberries in. They cooked over medium heat with a few spices until the skin of the fresh berries burst. Mmm… it smelled so good.
Once it was ready, I stirred in the the juice of one lemon, then ladled the cider into mugs, adding a drizzle of Maple Syrup. It didn’t need much syrup. It was already fairly sweet and I didn’t want to overwhelm the winter-grey-banishing alacrity of its sour taste.
This home-made cranberry concoction was delicious and energizing. More importantly, it completely eradicated all aforementioned symptoms of impending winter flu. The fog has cleared. Eyes wide open can now experience this bright full-color of this Red Blast day.
Try it yourself and let me know what you think ~
RED BLAST CRANBERRY CIDER
2 handfuls of fresh/dried cranberries
2 cups water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
5-6 dried clove buds
Sprinkle of cardamom
Put all the ingredients except the maple syrup into a pot and warm over medium heat. Bring it to a light boil, stir, and turn the heat to low. Allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and ladle into mugs, adding just enough syrup to cut slightly the mouth-puckering tart.
Cranberries are a beautiful and warm reminder of Thanksgiving and all that we have to be thankful for any time of the year. They are a great winter fruit, providing potent bursts of color, tart flavor and health-boosting intensity.
Cranberries and pomegranate are special food medicines in Ayurveda because of their unique “sour power” combined with astringent strength. According to Ayurveda’s great resource, the Charaka Samhita, these two sour foods “focus dispersed energy, bringing the spirit back to the heart.”
John Joseph Immel of Joyful Belly adds that cranberries are “valuable digestive tonics because 1) sourness aids digestion, 2) its cool quality soothes inflammation, and 3) astringency restores tone to distended tissues.”
In addition to its reputation as a useful agent for bladder infection, the tannins in cranberry make them beneficial in the case of diarrhea. Like most red fruits, cranberries strengthen the circulatory system, reduce heat in the blood and liver, are high in Vitamin C and other antioxidants, and promote good cholesterol. They have twice the polyphenols of red grapes, making them great combative forces against clotting, cancer, and the plaque that causes tooth decay.
Cranberries are also known to reduce the severity of asthma attacks, with chemical compounds similar to those in anti-asthma medications. Finally, new research suggests that cranberries help protect the brain from neurological damage.
As King George III, known for his own royal brand of neurological damage, famously repeated, “What? What?” With all that going for it, I think I’ll have another glass.
At my upcoming class on Ayurvedic Cooking for Winter Wellness, I will talk more specifically about the Six Tastes, including Sour and Astringent, and their impact on health. If you can’t make this class, the next one, “Spring Detox Cooking Class,” will be April 3rd.
Stay tuned, stay well and stay wise ~ Namaste!