November is a favorite time of the year for many. The weather begins to cool in anticipation of winter. The scenery of fall paints serene pictures around lakes and parks making a scenic stroll inviting.  Thanksgiving is the holiday where many families get together and enjoy traditions of turkey and dressing or a favorite meal.

I spent many childhood years at grandma’s house for Thanksgiving. Grandma Sue was, in my opinion, the best cook. Everything she made was homemade and delicious. She passed away in 2013 with Alzheimer’s Disease. Today, I carry on some of her traditions in my own home in her memory.

Cranberry sauce or salad is considered a staple item for many as a side dish with dressing. As a child I was not fond of cranberry of any kind.  Now, I enjoy cranberries and I use them in many different recipes.  I even make my own homemade cranberry sauce.

Berries are considered a favorite fruit when recommending foods high in fiber and antioxidants. Cranberries do not seem to get as much attention as the others. Research is emerging and this tart fruit that has long been associated with the holiday meals may have some positive benefits. This tiny, round fruit ranks high in antioxidants and has only 25 calories per serving.  Cranberries are a good source of fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Research is now expanding to include an anti-inflammatory benefit and possibly some cardiovascular and anti-cancer benefits.

There are many ways to incorporate cranberries into a healthy diet: they can be added to smoothies for breakfast, as a side dish, or as a glaze for roasted pork.  Dried cranberries make a tasty topping for oatmeal and a great addition for a healthy trail mix.  Our VA cookbooks offer a few cranberry recipes (Yummy Cookbook Vol I and Vol II).  While we know that this fruit provides some great benefits, too much of a good thing is still too much. It is important to consume any food in moderation.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Month and the last week of the month is National Family Week. Both are important to me.  The memories at grandma’s house remind me to be a part of the cause to cure this disease, whether by participating in events or donating to research. My grandma’s legacy that family matters carries on with me.

May your holiday be filled with good and fun times with your families.

image of Cheryl MonroeCheryl Monroe MS, RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian at the Jack C Montgomery VA in Muskogee, OK. She works as a clinical dietitian. She is married with 6 kids and 5 grandchildren. She enjoys hanging out with her family, reading, listening to music, and spoiling her grandchildren. She likes to take walks and run 5k’s when time permits.

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Published on Nov. 18, 2016

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