First Class recipe: Cranberry-Ginger Smoothie

People commonly associate cranberries with the sweet side dish — sometimes saucy and sometimes gelatinous — that follows turkey around a holiday table, almost as an afterthought. Yet the little red fruits have so much more to offer and can be found in a variety of recipes, including Alaska Airlines’ Cranberry-Ginger Smoothie, all winter long.

Loaded with antioxidants and naturally low in sugar, the berries pack anti-inflammatory compounds and provide a powerful immune-system boost in the form of vitamin C. They also are positively bursting with tart flavor that pairs well with many other seasonal foods.

Originally cultivated in New England, cranberries are now a mainstay of Pacific Northwest agriculture, grown in coastal regions stretching from Southern Oregon to British Columbia. The humble red orbs usually don’t make the roster of standout Northwest foodstuffs, and in my mind, this is shabby treatment for a diminutive fruit that brings so much to the table.

The following smoothie recipe, now available on select breakfast flights in the first class cabin, combines sweet-yet-tart cranberries with ginger and turmeric — two more superfoods with invigorating properties of their own. Balanced by a touch of clover honey and blended with protein-rich Greek yogurt, the berries take a well-deserved turn at center stage in this energy-boosting treat. The smoothie pairs well with sweet or savory breakfast items, or as a stand-alone snack at any time of day.

You can use fresh cranberries in this smoothie if you can find them, but frozen berries also work. Ginger puree is available in jars or tubes at most supermarkets — look in the produce section or in the section with Asian-cuisine ingredients. Making smoothies works best in a high-power blender, but in a pinch you can use a food processor or a small hand-held immersion blender instead.

Cranberry-Ginger Smoothie

(Makes about 1 quart)

  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen whole cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons ginger puree
  • 5 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup plain, whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 banana, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process at high speed until smooth and evenly combined. Do not over-blend or the texture will become gummy.

Serve immediately or refrigerate in a jar for up to 12 hours. If serving after refrigeration, shake the mixture well before pouring to ensure that it hasn’t separated. Or buzz briefly again in the blender to remix the ingredients.

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