My mom always had canned cranberry sauce in our pantry. You know the one I’m talking about. A cylindrical, molded block that slid perfectly out of the can and plopped onto the plate with no intention of ever losing it’s structure. We had it year round because it was one of my favorite after school snacks. Every 10 year old eats that right? I had a strange food palate.
I’d eat it in slices while watching early 90s reruns of 90210. SO addictive. The show and the sauce.
That canned stuff is thankfully far in my past. If I’d have only known what nasty ingredients were lurking inside. It contains four ingredients and two of them are sugar and more sugar. Cranberries, high-fructose corn syrup, water and corn syrup.
Traditional homemade recipes are not much better. They have at least a cup of sugar plus the orange juice, which is loaded with its own sugar too. All that sweetness could be reserved for dessert instead of included in the main meal. Orange juice adds enough sweet to balance the tartness of the cranberries so there is no need to add refined sugar.
My healthy version of cranberry sauce includes just one tablespoon of maple syrup plus fresh squeezed orange juice. Going from 1 cup to 1 tbsp saves a lot of excess sugar.
You get your money’s worth in nutrition with cranberries too. They have one of the highest levels of antioxidants. One cup of whole cranberries has 8,983 total antioxidant capacity, which is topped only by blueberries with up to 13,427.
Say no to canned cranberries this year. Make this recipe and save your sugar for the gooey butter cake.
Makes 6 servings.
3 ½ cups fresh cranberries
½ cup whole pitted cherries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
½ cup water
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp orange zest
¼ tsp cloves
1 cinnamon stick
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
►Combine cranberries and orange juice in a saucepan and cook all over medium-high heat until cranberries pop, about 10 minutes.
►Reduce heat to low and add in all remaining ingredients. Cook for 5 minutes until mixture thickens.
►Stir occasionally to prevent sticking in pan.
►Remove cinnamon stick. Cool and serve.*
*This is a fabulous dessert option too! Just add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Complete deliciousness.