by Lauren Petr
Contributor and Registered Dietician

Cranberries are the perfect ingredient for Christmas cooking as they add a festive bright hue and desirable tartness to any dish. From savory meats to delectable desserts, you can use this versatile berry in so many ways. 

Additionally, fresh cranberries - which contain the highest levels of beneficial nutrients - are at their finest for flavor during the holiday season.  Here are two Christmas-perfect dishes that feature this in-season fruit.

Pork Tenderloin with Dried Cranberry and Port Sauce                              
4 servings

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 lbs. boneless pork tenderloin
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup Tawny Port Wine
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
 
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof skillet over moderately high heat until hot, but not smoking. Sear the pork on all sides to brown. Transfer pork to a plate, and add onion to the skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until golden, stirring frequently.
4. Add Port, orange juice and vinegar.  Simmer, stirring continuously, for 2 minutes. Add cranberries and return pork to the skillet.  Bring sauce to a boil and then transfer the skillet to the oven.
3. Roast pork until a meat thermometer registers 155 degrees, roughly 25-30 minutes. Remove pork and place on a cutting board.  Cover loosely with foil and let stand before slicing, about 10 minutes. Spoon cranberry and onion mixture over pork slices and serve.

Cranberry Gelatin Salad
Serves 6

2 boxes Raspberry Jell-O
1 Granny Smith apple
2 celery stalks
6 oz fresh cranberries
1/2 cup pecans
1 Orange

Get all the salad ingredients ready - dice apples and celery into small cubes; finely chop fresh cranberries and pecans, or place in a food processor.  Place apples, celery, pecans and cranberries into a medium bowl.  Using a vegetable peeler, with light pressure peel 1/2 of the orange's skin, being careful to take only the orange part of the peel and not the white.  With a sharp knife, slice the peel into very thin strips.  Reserve a few long strips for garnish, then chop the remaining orange zest and mix into the cranberry mixture.  Stir well and refrigerate until needed.

Boil at least 2 cups of water.  In the meantime, pour contents of both Jell-O containers into a large bowl.  Whisk in 2 cups of boiling water and stir until all powder is dissolved, about 2 minutes.  Add 2 additional cups of cold water and stir.  Transfer Jell-O mix to a serving bowl or dish*, cover, and place in refrigerator for about 1 hour.  After an hour, gently stir in cranberry mixture and recover.  Place salad back into the fridge and let chill until gelatin has set completely, about 3 hours.

*For serving, transfer to the serving bowl of choice.  Suggestions include a medium sized decorative glass bowl, a 9 x 11 baking dish, or small individual dessert cups.  For the baking dish, once Jell-O is set, cut into squares and serve on dessert plates. Add whipped topping or leftover orange zest if desired.

Lauren Petr, Plumgood Food’s registered dietician, answers questions about diet and nutrition for all Plumgood customers, free of charge.  Lauren also can develop personalized meal and dietary plans for individual customers for an added fee. For more information, visit www.plumgood.com or contact Lauren at lpetr@plumgood.com.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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