Nothing says the holidays quite like the ruby red color of cranberries. These tart little fruits also pack a nutritional wallop, with plenty of vitamin C, fiber, and manganese for just 51 calories per cup. While a bowl of sweet sauce or a salad garnished with dried fruit are the most common applications, cranberries don’t need loads of sugar to taste good. The tartness actually makes them a great addition to both sweet and savory preparations. Let these five recipes show you what cranberries can do.
1. Roasted Cranberries and Quinoa Oatmeal
Oatmeal is one of the smartest breakfast choices around. If there’s one downfall, it’s the lack of protein. This smart recipe from Love & Zest adds a little bit of quinoa to give this porridge even more staying power. A topping made from roasted cranberries and maple syrup adds a great balance of sweet and tart flavors, and it’s super easy. Just toss the berries with the syrup, coconut oil, and cinnamon, then bake them for 15 minutes.
We’ve talked about the heart-healthy benefits of oats before. Some evidence suggests cranberries may also boost your ticker, and that’s not all. In a 2012 meta-analysis of more than 150 studies, researchers reported cranberry consumption can positively influence blood pressure, limit oxidative stress, and reduce inflammation. Interestingly, the common belief that cranberries can help ward off urinary-tract infections may or may not be true. But with so many other benefits, it hardly seems to matter.
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- ½ cup cooked quinoa
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup water
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment. Toss cranberries with coconut oil, syrup, and cinnamon. Spread into an even layer and transfer to oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine oats, quinoa, milk, and water in a medium saucepan. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Serve porridge topped with cranberries.
2. Cranberry-Avocado Salsa
Instead of the usual fruit salsa starring pineapple or mango, try adding the refreshingly tart flavor of cranberry. Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food tosses fresh cranberries with some avocado, lime juice, chiles, and cilantro for a dip that’s somewhere between a salsa and guacamole. You can serve this recipe with chips or spoon it on top of some grilled chicken or fish.
Many healthy dips are made with yogurt, which is a good way to boost your digestive health. If you don’t particularly care for the taste or texture of the tangy dairy, this salsa is a delicious way to get some of the same benefits. A 2008 study published in the journal Nutrition found cranberry juice to be just as beneficial as probiotics for maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 minced jalapeño
- ¼ cup red onion, chopped
- 2 ripe avocados, cut into ¼-inch dice
- ¾ cup halved cranberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Salt and pepper
- Pita or tortilla chips
Directions: In a large bowl, whisk lime juice, honey, jalapeño, and red onion. Drain cranberries well on paper towels, and add to bowl along with avocado and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine. Serve with chips.
3. Pork Tenderloin with Chipotle-Cranberry Sauce
Pork tenderloin is a great source of lean protein for fast weeknight meals. Without a little something extra, it can be a little bland. Keep your meal healthy while giving it a huge flavor boost with The Wanderlust Kitchen’s pork paired with a spicy cranberry topping. A simple rub made with garlic salt and mustard delivers even more great taste. Add some steamed broccoli and a basic rice pilaf to round out the meal.
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 canned chipotle in adobo, finely minced
- 1 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup brown sugar
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a roasting rack with nonstick cooking spray and set inside a roasting pan lined with foil. In a small bowl, mix mustard powder and garlic salt. Rub mixture over tenderloin and transfer to prepared baking rack. Bake for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine olive oil and honey in a small bowl. Brush mixture over pork after 30 minutes. Continue to roast until pork is cooked to your desired doneness.
In a small, heavy saucepan, combine chipotle, cranberries, garlic, lemon juice, and brown sugar. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Let pork rest for about 10 minutes, then slice into thick pieces and serve with any accumulated pan juices and cranberry-chipotle sauce.
4. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Barley
Your lunch needs an upgrade and this grain salad with roasted Brussels sprouts, salty blue cheese, and tart cranberries from Cookie and Kate, adapted from a recipe by Love and Lemons, is the way to do it. With such a variety of flavors and textures, it’s one of the most delicious ways to eat healthy. It’s also delicious warm, cold, or at room temperature. To keep the nuts extra crisp, pack them separately, then sprinkle them on when it’s time to eat.
Both Brussels sprouts and barley offer a huge dose of fiber, which may help reduce your risk of certain types of cancer. Cranberries might have some anti-cancer benefits of their own. According to a 2012 study from Food & Function, cranberries may hinder the growth of prostate cancer cells. Health benefits aside, this salad tastes fantastic.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ⅔ cup fresh cranberries
- ⅓ cup crumbled blue or goat cheese
- ⅓ cup chopped toasted pecans
- 1½ cups cooked barley
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Directions: Preheat broiler to high. Preheat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
In the meantime, toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil and salt in a medium bowl. Add sprouts to hot pan, cut-sides down. Cook without moving for two minutes. Add cranberries to pan, then position pan under the boiler. Broil for 3 minutes, or until sprouts are browned all over and cranberries begin to pop.
Toss sprouts and berries with barley, cheese, pecans, vinegar, and syrup in a large bowl. Season with salt. Serve.
5. Chicken Breasts with Cranberry Agrodolce
Chicken breasts are anything but boring when you top them with a sweet and tart sauce made with cranberries. Give it a try with Bon Appétit’s simple recipe. While leaving the skin on adds a bit more fat to the chicken, it also helps keep the meat moist while roasting. You can always remove the skin after the chicken’s cooked.
You probably already know this type of meal is great for feeding your muscles and keeping you satisfied. What you may not realize is it could be beneficial for mouth health. One Canadian review from 2010 indicated cranberries may be useful for treating or preventing periodontal disease and cavities. This recipe, which doesn’t add too much sweetener, may be a better choice than other cranberry sauces since sugar can negatively affect oral health.
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- Kosher salt
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 2 cups fresh or frozen, thawed cranberries
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 large, bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, cut in half crosswise
- Kosher salt
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 8 fresh sage leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Directions: Heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in apple, cranberries, syrup, and vinegar. Increase heat to high and cook until cranberries begin to burst, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until apples are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Loosen the skin on each piece of chicken, leaving it connected at the edges. Rub some salt and minced garlic under skin on each breast and tuck 2 sage leaves under each piece. Season skin with salt and pepper.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Brush pan with oil and set chicken pieces in pan, skin-side down. Cook until skin is golden, about 7 to 8 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and transfer pan to the oven. Cook until meat is fully cooked, about 15 to 18 minutes. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes. Serve topped with agrodolce.