It’s beginning to look a lot like winter! The first snows of the season have already hit our valley and our wood stove is crackling all day long. With the changing of the seasons, we’ve been eating warming and spicy foods and using lots of herbs and foods to support our immune systems as well.
Before I learned how to support and nourish my immune system, I used to struggle through the winter months, catching several colds and even the flu at least once a year. Now, I rarely get sick.
My close friends are often surprised at how little I get under the weather. “What’s your secret?” they want to know.
It’s not easy to point to that ONE thing that can improve your immune system. Good food, good digestion, sunlight, exercise and emotions all play a big role in our total health. However, another big factor in immune system health that often gets overlooked is using herbs (and foods!) to support the immune system.
One important nutrient for optimal immune system function is vitamin C, and today’s delicious recipe is also loaded with this nutrient!
Vitamin C is crucial for the immune system but evidence seems to support that getting vitamin C from whole food sources (rather than isolated extracts) has the best results. Your body doesn’t make vitamin C on its own nor does it store it, so it’s important to include vitamin C in your diet regularly. Luckily, many foods and herbs high in vitamin C are also tasty!
Today’s compote recipe is like getting a mega dose of natural vitamin C. You’ll see that almost all the ingredients in this compote contain large amounts of this vitamin plus many other valuable nutrients.
What’s a Compote?
A compote is stewed fruit with added spices. This dessert may have originated with the French in the 17th century, but it is also feasible that it developed before that. Many traditional recipes call for gobs of sugar. If you’ve been following my recipes for long you’ll know that I remedied that!
Compotes are some of my favorite desserts. They are easy to make and delicious! I always use seasonal fruit and rarely add any additional sweeteners. In the winter time compotes are delicious served warm with a dollop of whipped cream. In the summer we loved them chilled with yogurt.
The health benefits of compotes vary with the fruits used. The recipe I am sharing with you today is loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C. Eating this compote is like getting a mega dose of vitamin C, which is especially beneficial to our immune system.
Before we get to the recipe, let’s look at some of the health benefits of the fruit in our compote.
Rose hips are the fruits of the rose. These tart and tangy fruits are delicious and loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants. I use dried rose hips in the recipe; if you can harvest them fresh then all the better!
Cranberries have been studied at length for their health benefits. They have multiple constituents that have been shown to prevent cancer! And, like rose hips, Cranberries are really high in flavonoids and Vitamin C. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that protect the body from oxidation and inflammation that can lead to premature aging.
These flavonoids have been shown to promote a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. By reducing inflammation they reduce plaque build-up in arteries, prevent platelets from sticking together and normalize cholesterol levels.
Apples can be overlooked as a common and boring fruit, but they also pack a nutrient-dense punch. For the best nutrient value be sure to get local organic varieties and veer away from those red delicious varieties to explore some of the heritage varieties.
An apple is yet another fruit that is high in Vitamin C. (I told you this recipe is full of it!) Apples have also been shown to have a strongly beneficial effect on the heart.
Apples are high in quercetin, which is a powerful flavonoid that is a sort of building block for other flavonoids. Quercetin prevents cancer and heart disease, speeds the healing of digestive ulcers and can help prevent seasonal allergies.
Ginger is one of my favorite herbs! I mean really, what can’t it do? Soothe an upset stomach, check. Decrease inflammatory pain, check. Relieve headaches, check. Promote digestion, check. And the list goes on and on!
This recipe calls for candied ginger. You can also often find candied ginger at the store or try using regular fresh ginger instead.
Rose Hip and Cranberry Compote Recipe
This recipe serves 6 to 8 people. I think the taste gets better the second day.
I made this compote for my 5-year old niece who proudly proclaimed, “No one makes cranberries as good as my Auntie Rosie!” I guess that could be an endorsement or a challenge!
So, take it from my niece Pearl, this recipe is yummy! (I should put her on the payroll.)
What you’ll need…
- 3 cups of chopped apples
- 2 cups of fresh cranberries
- 1/3 cup of dried rose hips
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- Sugar or honey to taste
- Freshly whipped cream (optional)
- To begin, place the fruits, lemon juice, apple cider and water into a pan and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat so that it is on a low simmer. Continue to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- After twenty minutes the fruit should be soft and the mixture will looked gelled or cooked down.
- Add the spices and honey or sugar if desired. Stir for another two minutes.
- This can be served immediately, although we find it’s best after sitting for 24 hours.