Is it there, amongst all the other dishes that have been prepared with patience and love, jiggling and waiting for someone to take the first slice?
It's time for our annual cheerleading session…to help you keep REAL food at the center of your Thanksgiving feast! Last year, we talked about the benefits of a paradigm shift. We have also highlighted how side dishes using fresh, in-season ingredients often end up stealing the show.
This year, we want to tackle a traditional, yet puzzling, dish that always seems to appear on the Thanksgiving table...
It's that quivering bowl of cranberry sauce…you know, the one that keeps its jiggly form, and even includes the ridges from the can! In our family, it's always there, but we have asked, and no one knows exactly why it has become a staple at our Thanksgiving dinner.
Cranberries, high fructose corn syrup, water and corn syrup.
The good news...
Well, it IS made with real cranberries.
The bad news...
It includes other ingredients...highly-processed sugar and, for good measure, more sugar.
For just ¼ cup of the quivering sauce, it has 22 grams of sugar (that’s 5.5 tsp). Compare that to our homemade cranberry sauce that has 13.6 grams of sugar, and our cranberry relish that only has 5 grams of sugar!
Why are we not eating fresh cranberry sauce?!
Fresh and frozen cranberries are loaded with many star nutrients:
- They contain highly-beneficial antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
- They help prevent urinary tract infections, enhance our immune systems and provide cardiovascular benefits.
- They lower our bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase our good cholesterol (HDL).
- They contain powerful cancer fighters, especially when it comes to reducing the risk of breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers.
All of this is proof we should be eating cranberries fresh!
When buying fresh, they should be plump and firm, with a deep red color (firmness is the primary indicator of quality). They can be refrigerated for 2-3 weeks or kept frozen for years.
Most of their beneficial nutrients come from the flesh and the skins of the cranberries. This is where you have to be careful not to assume everything containing cranberries is good for you. For example, cranberry juice is often made by processing the berries (leaving the flesh and skins behind), and then adding generous amounts of sugar. Similar to the gelatinous sauce that slides out of the can, cranberry juice isn’t near as nutritious as whole cranberries.
Cranberries do taste best when lightly sweetened, and it can be done with REAL ingredients!
- Offset the tartness by adding other fruits like apples, oranges or pineapple
- Add a little honey or pure maple syrup (this is how our ancestors enjoyed cranberries)
Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce Ideas!
We know, many people think we don't have the time, but you can quickly make homemade sauce...you can even make it ahead of time!
Here are a few ideas to enjoy REAL cranberries at your Thanksgiving table this year. These sides will allow you to get the nutrition benefits of fresh cranberries, provide just the right amount of sweetness, and are a delicious accompaniment to your meal!
Cranberry Pomegranate Relish - no cooking required -- this version is served cold, and is so good you can eat it with a spoon, like a salad!
Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce - the perfect warm accompaniment to serve with your juicy Thanksgiving turkey. Plus, this cranberry sauce is ideal to put on leftover turkey sandwiches!
- Turkey, Cranberry and Brie Grilled Cheese
- Put some sauce on your morning oatmeal
- Flavor plain yogurt
- Perfect topping on the Christmas Burger
- Substitute for the chutney in this delicious grilled chicken
- Spread it on toast
- Change it up, and instead of the raisin topping, add it to this great-tasting Almond Crusted Pork Tenderloin
- Use it as a topping on loaded sweet potatoes
Afraid your family and friends won’t like the change? Try an experiment. Make a dish using fresh cranberries, while still serving the “quivering” version, conduct a taste test, and see what happens.
We encourage you to introduce some new dishes on Thanksgiving using fresh, in-season ingredients, while still embracing those traditional dishes. You may even find yourself feeling less guilty when it comes time to indulge in your favorite dessert!
Share your ideas!
Do you have a favorite homemade cranberry sauce?
Have you changed up any traditional dishes in your family to make them healthier and still taste amazing?