Diabetes Blogs

D-Friendly Holiday Cranberry Sauce

As a little girl my mom would pour cranberries out of a can for Thanksgiving. They came out in one big clump, indents stamped on all sides of the deep red-fleshed jelly. I remember trying a bite from time to time but their ultra-sweet tinny taste did not keep me coming back for more. This was the only way I knew cranberries and I didn't think I liked them very much.

Thankfully, one of those years growing up (maybe high school?), the unappetizing cans of cranberries were put away - for good! My mom came across a new recipe for cranberry sauce and tried it out. It was delicious!!! And I was sold on cranberries from that point on.

It was even easy on my blood sugars, combining sugar free strawberry jello with fresh cranberries to make a wonderful side dish or dessert. I requested it every year at Thanksgiving and loved it!

Several years later I met with my first acupuncturist. She told me about the dangers of aspartame/Nutrasweet (the artificial sweetener in jello & many diet soft drinks) and advised me to quit consuming it or risk a number of serious health problems like multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's. Concerned by her strong message, I cut back on nearly all my intake of all artificial sweeteners from that point on.

Being diagnosed with food sensitivities five years ago was another reason to quit consumption of processed foods and drinks like jello and diet pop. The very things I'm sensitive too are lurking behind ingredients such as natural flavors, etc.

Eventually I kind of forgot about cranberries. If they weren't out of can, they were loaded with sugar--- not very healthy if you have diabetes! And who wants to eat a huge bite of sugar with the faint taste of a cranberry in the background? Not me! Both cranberry and rhubarb desserts in my mind are supposed to be a bit tart! That is what makes them so very good and distinctively different than sweet fruits like strawberries or peaches.

About five years while I was shopping at the natural foods co-op, I spotted a collection of free healthy Thanksgiving recipe cards. Newly married and very inexperienced in the kitchen, I perused the recipes as I made my way past the customer service desk after finishing up in the produce department.

There among the recipes was one for cranberries!! I quickly reviewed the ingredients listed. There were no processed ingredients or refined sugar!!! Even better. This recipe was a keeper, or at least one to try, right away!

I picked up the necessary ingredients and once home, followed the recipe to a T. Not such a great idea, at least for my preference in taste and needs. The cardamom (which I debated adding, but threw it in as "the recipe told me so..") overtook the wonderful taste of cranberries that I cherish so much.

And against my better judgment I added the golden raisins listed in the ingredients too. While I eat raisins from time to time, if they are able to be omitted or substituted, I will do so as they can cause my blood sugars to skyrocket! And raisins in my mind are not usually worth the enormous rise in blood sugars they sometimes cause.

I am excited to present to you this adapted, diabetes friendly recipe for cranberries! These are knock-your-socks-off good! I made a huge pot of them on Saturday and just finished my last delicious bowlful last night. It was such a great treat and the best part is---they are super healthy!!

Cranberries being harvested in Wisconsin (photo credit: travelwisconsin.com)Wisconsin is the largest producer of cranberries in the United States. Cranberries score among the highest of all fruits in antioxidants and contain a healthy amount of Vitamin C, fiber and manganese as well as many other nutrients. And they have been around for centuries, originally being eaten by Native Americans in an energy bar smashed, with deer fat! That doesn't sound too tasty to me but it provided them with sustained energy. Plus, cranberries are a superfood!

I recently added fresh cranberries to a gluten free scone recipe and they were fabulous! I was unsure how they would turn out compared to dried cranberries but I really loved the taste. And there is no extra sugar or sweetener added to fresh cranberries, making them a healthier choice for baking than dried cranberries!

A 1/2 cup serving of this delicious cranberry sauce will provide you with a nutrient dense serving of fruit. And unlike most cranberry sauces, it will not send you or your loved ones blood sugars soaring. Perfect!

Without further ado, here is the recipe! If possible, shop at a natural foods co-op where they may have a big bin of bulk organic cranberries available for purchase. Containers or bags of fresh cranberies are okay too.

D-Friendly Holiday Cranberry Sauce

  • 6.5 - 7.5 cups fresh cranberries (24 - 26 ounces)
  • 6 cups diced apples (this was 4 Haralson apples for me)
  • The zest of one orange (this was one Tbsp. for me)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 25 drops liquid stevia* (more/less to taste)
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • One zested orange, peeled and cut into small pieces (optional)

Wash & strain the cranberries. Pick out any soft ones.

Core & dice apples. (I leave the skin on - less work & healthier!).

Zest the orange with a zester.

You may also peel, cut into small pieces and add the zested orange to your cranberry sauce.

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan on the stove.

Heat over medium heat stirring often.

You will begin to hear the cranberries pop.

Heat until mixture reaches a sauce-like consistency.

Taste and add additional sweetener as necessary.

Remove from heat.

Cool & enjoy!

Store in sealed container in the refrigerator. Stays fresh about a week.

*NuNaturals liquid stevia is usually available at a natural foods co-op or online. It is my favorite brand and is wonderful in cooking and baking---it does not have an odd or bitter taste. It is highly concentrated however, so use judiciously.

This D-Friendly Holiday Cranberry Sauce is based on a recipe by Jennette Turner, 2008 Holiday Recipes at The Wedge Natural Foods Co-op (www.wedge.coop/).


In Peace & Wellness,


Jonah was interested too! He actually ate a few raw cranberries that fell to the floor on accident and liked them!

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