{Nourish} 6 Ways to Use Cranberries + DIY Holiday Granola

Thanksgiving may be over but the beautiful and brilliant red cranberry lasts the season!  Cranberries are antioxidant powerhouses. These ruby jewels are chock full of Vitamin C and phytonutrients that protect your body from free radicals and strengthen your immune system. Cranberries have a number of health benefits.  They have been shown to prevent tract infections, protect against cardiovascular disease, fight inflammation and have some cancer-fighting properties. Fresh cranberries freeze very well and can be incorporated into both sweet and savory dishes.  Avoid dried cranberries unless they are unsweetened as many commercially dried cranberries are loaded with sugar!  Here are a few of our favorite uses for cranberries, fresh or frozen

Apple-Cranberry Oatmeal

Combine 1/3 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries and 2 cups apple cider in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until cranberries begin to burst. Stir in 1 ¼ cups of old-fashioned oats, 1 cored, peeled and chopped apple, and a dash of cinnamon. Simmer over medium heat until oats are cooked, about 7 minutes. Let stand for a few minutes to thicken. Top with your favorite oatmeal toppings, such as chopped nuts or a drizzle of maple syrup.

Cranberry Sauce

Zest half of an orange and set zest aside. Combine one bag of cranberries, the juice of half an orange, 2 to 4 Tablespoons of water, ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon grated ginger and a pinch of salt and the orange zest in a medium pot and cook over medium-low heat. Cook 10 to 20 minutes until the cranberries start to pop. When you have the texture you like, add the sweetener of your choice, such as 1 to 2 Tablespoons of honey or maple syrup.  Spread on a sandwich, add a dollop to breakfast cereal or oatmeal.

  • Cranberry Dijon Salmon:  Mix 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce with 1 tsp dijon mustard and 1 tsp whole grain mustard.  Glaze salmon filets (4, 5 oz pieces) and roast at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Cran-Apple Sauce

Combine 2 cups of chopped, peeled apples, 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, a dash of cinnamon and ½ cup of cranberry juice in a pot. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until the fruit is very soft. Depending on how smooth you like your applesauce, either mash with a potato masher or process in a food processor. Taste and sweeten with honey, if desired.

Cranberry Topping

Combine one cup of frozen cranberries with 2 tablespoon maple syrup and 1/2 tsp grated ginger in a food processor.  Pulse until chunky.  Use as a topping for yogurt or oatmeal or event cookies.

Cranberry Salsa

Pulse 1 ½ cups of fresh or frozen cranberries and ½ of a peeled and cored apple in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Combine with ½ of a chopped Serrano or jalapeno chili, 4 Tablespoons of sugar and the zest of an orange. Let stand in a bowl for 15 minutes to let flavors meld. When ready to serve, add 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro, dash of lime juice and dash of salt and mix. Awesome as a topping to chicken or turkey tacos.

Cranberry Granola

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (grade B)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried un-sweetened cranberries

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray heavy large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine oats, almonds, coconut, and walnuts in large bowl. Combine orange juice, zest, oil, cinnamon in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Pour mixture over oat mixture; stir to coat evenly. Spread mixture out on prepared sheet. Bake until golden brown at edges, about 20 minutes. Add cranberries; using metal spatula, stir to blend. Bake until granola is golden and beginning to dry, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes longer. Cool completely on baking sheet. (Store airtight at room temperature up to 1 week.)

By Katie Cavuto MS, RD and Amanda Thomas

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