A Side Dish with Health Benefits

Hawthorn Berries in Your Cranberry Sauce Gives Your Holiday Table a Healing, Healthy Side Dish.

What holiday table would be complete without the beautiful red cranberry relish we love to see beside our turkey every Thanksgiving? Try a new recipe this year that will not only add sweetness and color but has some extra added bonuses as well.

Hawthorn berries have been researched as a tonic for the heart and they are traditionally prescribed to treat irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chest pain, hardening of the arteries and heart failure. However, around the holidays, most people are interested in their ability to improve the digestion of fats and meats. They also contain vitamin C and antioxidants.  Add in some hawthorn berries this year and get rewarded with a happy tummy and heart!

Recipe contributed by friend and colleague, Rachel Toomin:

Cranberry Hawthorn Berry Sauce


2 C fresh cranberries           2 T grated orange rind (opt.)

1 C pitted & dried                  1 C sugar/honey/agave             

hawthorn berries                               syrup (or to taste)


Wash cranberries and hawthorn berries separately. Soak hawthorn berries for at least 10 min. (you can put them in a container of water the night before and stash in the refrigerator), strain and discard water. Remove seeds from hawthorn berries.

Place hawthorn berries in a saucepan with sweetener of choice & water. Bring to a boil, simmering for 10 min.

Add cranberries, bring to boil again, and simmer until the cranberry skins burst—about 10 min.

Add orange rind and/or other additions. Allow to cool or refrigerate.  May also be served warm.

Additions: pecans, candied ginger, love, imagination


Experience has shown that you cannot shortcut the process by using already-made cranberry sauce, even if  it is fresh/homemade cranberry sauce.  You have to cook the cranberries with the hawthorn berries, or it tastes awful!



Gratitude Preparation

Merriam-Webster defines Thanksgiving as “the act of giving thanks, a prayer expressing gratitude, and a public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness.”

Are you running around preparing for Thursday? Have you locked yourself in your kitchen preparing pies in your flour dusted apron? Making your 20th trip the grocery store? Cleaning the house preparing for guests? Putting in extra hours at work so you can take the day off?
It seems like a lot of preparation for one meal.  I have never hosted the day. I admit I have an inexperienced perspective. However, despite the rumors of too much work and complaints about relatives, it is one of my favorites.
 I think we deserve to find these moments, when we come together with friends and family, enjoyable. How many times a year does this really happen?
Despite all the chaos, we still do it, every year. It must be for a reason. All the chaos must be worth whatever it is we get out of the day. If it isn’t, something needs to change.
What can we do so we have more appreciation for the things that matter and less stress about the things that don’t?
If Thursday came and you gathered with your loved ones and were served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I am sure there might be the initial disappointment about the lack of turkey and mashed potatoes but you would still be surrounded by people you love. You could still laugh, talk, joke, and hug these wonderful people. You would still have plenty to be thankful for, with or without the stuffing.
I am lucky. I love my family. I love the people I spend Thanksgiving with every year and people usually take the knife, peeler, or spoon away from me if I help too much in the kitchen. However, if the day comes around and you don’t feel lucky and loved. ..Now is the time for new traditions. If you dread the cooking, have it catered or go out to a restaurant. If you don’t like the company you keep, drop the guilt and other excuses, and find some new people.
What better way to celebrate the day than to enjoy it so much that as you collapse at the end of day you are nothing short of thankful.

Normal Days

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in the quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.” Mary Jean Iron

Walking in the rain, among the fallen leaves, along the rocky beach, I slipped. I almost fell. I jerked my neck and my ankle twisted slightly but I managed to regain balance. I waited for my heart to stop racing and stopped to look around and sighed.

The rocks were slippery and I hadn’t been paying attention. I was surrounded by water, trees, amazing colors, and the sound of waves swooshing as they broke. I had been unaware of anything but the worries scurrying around in my head. I was taking my day for granted. Life has a way of waking us up.

I’m not sure what the world normal really means. However, if the day goes by with no dangerous illness or tragedy reported, we should acknowledge that it was a good one. Usually we don’t appreciate our normal until it leaves us.

I hope you have a wonderfully normal day.