Cooking with Cranberries: How to Use them (Besides Just Cranberry Sauce)

Origins of Cranberries

Cranberries are most often known as a vibrant red fruit that adorns our holiday tables, particularly at Thanksgiving. Native to North America, particularly in the acidic bogs of the northern United States and Canada, cranberries have been a staple in indigenous diets for centuries. Native Americans used them not only to eat but also for medicinal purposes, recognizing and using the potent health benefits of these tart berries. Cranberry season runs September to November, spanning both the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, and Canada’s Thanksgiving. However, these tart and potent berries need not be limited to enjoying only once per year! Use them throughout the fall season in a variety of dishes and recipes and reap the benefits of eating fresh, seasonal, and indigenous produce!

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Cranberry Nutrition Content

Beyond their tart and tangy flavor, and beautiful rich color, cranberries pack a powerful nutritional punch. These little red berries are low in calories but high in nutrients, making them a smart addition to a balanced diet.

Loaded with antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, they contribute to a robust immune system, helping the body fend off illnesses and reduce inflammation in the body.

They also contain proanthocyanins, which have been associated with managing urinary tract infections. These berries are also great for helping maintain a healthy gut bacteria environment in our intestines.

Rich in fiber, cranberries aid digestion and promote a healthy gut. They also offer a range of essential vitamins and minerals, including manganese, vitamin K, and vitamin E. Incorporating cranberries into your diet can be a flavorful way to boost your overall well-being and body functioning

cranberry rosemary sparklet- a non alcoholic drink made with cranberries for the cooking with cranberries blog post and recipe

Cranberry Recipes:

Now that we’ve covered the origins and nutritional benefits, let’s explore some innovative ways to incorporate cranberries into your cooking. Beyond the traditional sauce, there are numerous ways to enjoy the tartness and versatility of these berries:

Additional Recipe Ideas for Using Cranberries

  • Cranberry Rosemary Sparkler: Take crushed cranberries and add bubbly water to make a refreshing and light holiday drink. Recipe Above!
  • Cranberry Salsa: Mix finely chopped cranberries with red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and a touch of honey for a zesty salsa that pairs perfectly with grilled chicken or fish.
  • Cranberry Smoothie: Blend cranberries with a sweeter fruit, like bananas, yogurt, and a splash of almond milk for a refreshing and nutrient-packed smoothie.
  • Cranberry Glaze: Roast Brussels sprouts, or any veggies, then top with a cranberry glaze made from cranberry sauce, balsamic vinegar, and a hint of Dijon mustard for a delightful side dish.
  • Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad: Combine cooked quinoa with dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, feta cheese, and a light vinaigrette for a wholesome and satisfying salad.
  • Cranberry Brie Bites: These little tarts make great appetizers and are easy to prepare- simply add cranberry sauce, a piece of brie, pecans and rosemary and bake until crisp. Grab the recipe above!
  • Cranberry Orange Muffins: Add dried cranberries and fresh orange zest to your favorite muffin recipe for a burst of flavor in every bite.
  • Cranberry Balsamic Chicken: Create a savory glaze by simmering cranberries with balsamic vinegar, garlic, and a touch of honey, then drizzle it over grilled or roasted chicken.
  • Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies: Elevate classic oatmeal cookies by folding in dried cranberries and chopped pecans for a festive and delicious treat.
  • Cranberry and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast: Butterfly chicken breasts, spread a mixture of dried cranberries and goat cheese inside, then bake for an elegant and flavorful main course.
  • Homemade Cranberry Sauce: An oldie but goodie! Cook cranberries, sugar, and orange juice into a jam-like consistency and enjoy with your meal of pork or poultry, mix into oatmeal, or baking into muffins. Check out the recipe above!

Want Help Eating in Season?

From salads to desserts, these little red berries can add a burst of flavor, color and boost of health benefits to your meals. Fall is the season for these babies, so when you’re in the kitchen consider experimenting and discover the delightful possibilities these native and seasonal berries bring to your table! Seasonal produce will always yield a higher nutrient content and adds natural biodiversity to our food choices – a win win!

If you’d like to explore more ways to use seasonal, fresh fruits and vegetables, sign up for our email newsletter! I send out tidbits of nutrition info, uses for in-season produce, cooking tips, and intuitive eating reflections. You can also schedule a FREE 1:1 chat with me anytime to explore options for eating healthier, making better food choices, and feeling good about your body, inside and out HERE.

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