If you were planning on purchasing store-bought cranberry sauce this year, change your plans immediately! This natural cranberry sauce is incredibly easy to make and it will make your whole house smell delicious as your friends and family arrive. It is also gluten-free, dairy-free, and made with real, fresh ingredients.
As many of you know, I believe food is medicine so it is important to understand the health benefits behind the foods you are eating. Cranberries are rich in powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients (phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, and flavonoids) that help reduce inflammation, prevent cancer, improve the immune system, and prevent urinary tract infections. All wonderful health benefits!
COCONUT PALM SUGAR
Although I always recommend keeping sugar low in the diet (even healthier alternative), this recipe uses coconut palm sugar instead of the commonly used white sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Fresh cranberries are very tart and need some sweetener to make them a great addition to your Thanksgiving meal. Coconut palm sugar is made from the sap of a coconut tree. For those of you that have never had coconut palm sugar, it has a taste similar to brown sugar. The benefit of using coconut palm sugar instead of alternative sweeteners is it has a lower glycemic index and contains trace minerals that white sugar lacks.
If you have not noticed already, I LOVE healthy fats and nuts. Walnuts are one of my favorite nuts for a number of reasons. These omega 3 rich nuts will help prevent heart disease, improve brain health, reduce inflammation, and stabilize blood sugar levels making it an excellent addition to this cranberry sauce.
Using cinnamon sticks is what helps your house smell festive on Thanksgiving. It also gives the cranberry sauce a slightly spicy, yet smooth finish. Cinnamon is one of my favorite spices to incorporate because it has been shown to reduce insulin resistance (prediabetes, diabetes) and cholesterol levels when consumed daily.
Now that you know why I use each ingredient, lets get to the recipe!
NATURAL CRANBERRY SAUCE
12 oz bag of fresh cranberries (organic if possible)
½ cup coconut palm sugar (can increase to ¾ cups if you prefer it sweeter)
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cinnamon stick
Pour the bag of cranberries into a sauce pan and add 2 tbsp of water. Place on medium heat and cook until cranberries begin to “pop”. Add the cinnamon stick and coconut palm sugar. Cut the oranges in half and squeeze the fresh orange juice into the cranberry mixture. Continue to cook, stirring regularly to make sure it does not stick to the bottom. Once all the cranberries have burst, stir in the walnuts and let chill (unless of course you like warm cranberry sauce). Optional: top with fresh orange zest.
Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for you and your support with the new STAT Wellness brand.
Kristin Oja, DNP, FNP-C, PT-C