How to choose: Ruby-red cranberries should be plump and smooth; discard soft ones. Cranberries freeze beautifully in their original bags, so buy extra to extend their short season.

Preparation tips: Simply rinse; no need to defrost. Simmer fresh cranberries with apple juice, lime zest, and chopped onion, tomato, and jalapeño for a kicky salsa. Add dried cranberries to couscous or tuna salad. Spread cranberry sauce on baked Brie. Look for 100 percent pure cranberry juice (and blends) for sauces and smoothies.

Health benefits: Bursting with heart-healthy and anticancer antioxidants, cranberries also contain tannins that keep bacteria from sticking to cells, protecting gums, intestines, and the urinary tract.

—Elisa Bosley

Cranberry-Walnut Scones
(Serves 8)

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup natural cane sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup dried or fresh chopped cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
6 tablespoons ghee or butter, melted
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup reduced-fat (2 percent) milk or soy milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cranberries, and walnuts. Toss together lightly to mix. In a medium bowl, whisk together melted ghee or butter, egg, milk, and vanilla extract, then pour all at once into flour mixture. Mix lightly, using as few strokes as possible, until dough clings together.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. With floured hands, pat dough into an 8-inch round, about 11/2 inches thick. Cut round into eight pie-shaped wedges and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until lightly browned around the edges, about 20 minutes. Cool on a baking rack.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 348 calories
% fat calories: 44
Fat: 18g
Saturated Fat: 8g
Cholesterol: 46mg
Protein: 7g
Carbohydrate: 43g
Fiber: 5g
Sodium: 108mg

Recipe provided by James Rouse, ND, the creator of Optimum Wellness and The Fit Kitchen, seen weekly on NBC’s KUSA television news.