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Toddler Treat: Cranberries

Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby They are the creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit and Good Clean Fun Placemats, available at many fine specialty stores a...

Toddlers love to play with their food. Dipping sauces make foods taste good and provide your child with an activity that makes meals and snacks more fun. Here are two recipes for yummy dipping sauces -- one for fruits and another for veggies, tofu and meats.

Creamy Cranberry Dipping Sauce
Ingredients:
3/4 cup 100 percent cranberry raspberry (or grape) juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

Directions:
Place juice into a small saucepan. Boil until reduced to a syrup (about 3 tablespoons). Allow to cool. Add syrup to remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Chill and serve with a variety of fresh fruit slices.

Cranberry Mustard Dipping Sauce
Ingredients:
1/2 cup jellied cranberry sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions:
Combine ingredients in a small mixing bowl, whisking until smooth. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serve with raw/blanched veggies, baked tofu, chicken fingers or fish sticks.

All about cranberries
The cranberry is a Native American fruit that grows on trailing vines like a strawberry, and thrives in wetland areas, called bogs. Cranberries are harvested in September and October. The most common technique for harvesting is known as a "wet" harvest, which involves flooding the bogs with water to float the fruit for easy collection. During the winter the frozen water insulates and protects the vines.

The North American cranberry has a distinguished history. Native Americans used cranberries as food, in ceremonies, and medicinally. Revolutionary War veteran Henry Hall planted the first commercial cranberry beds in Dennis, Massachusetts in 1816. Today they are farmed on approximately 40,000 acres across the northern United States and Canada.

Cranberries are available in a variety of product forms including: fresh, juice, dried and sauce. Cranberries are considered a healthy fruit. They contain no cholesterol and virtually no fat, and are low in sodium. In addition, they contain significant amounts of antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may help protect against heart disease, cancer, aging and other diseases. Cranberries also contain bacteria-blocking compounds that are helpful in preventing urinary tract infections, and possibly ulcers and gum disease.

Age to introduce: Over 12 months (cooked/juice/sauce). Over 18 months (dried).

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