A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

‘Tis the season all year ‘round for cranberries

Sauce / Fall Sauce / Cranberries / Oranges

Cranberries: A year-round fruit that can add zip to your meals

Cranberries have this reputation for being a side dish for holiday dinners but this versatile red orb can sit center stage for any meal you plan to serve, especially if roasted meat is your main dish.

Cranberries have been consumed for generations and used to be called “craneberries” because the blossom on the cranberry looked like a sandhill crane, explained Chrisanne Urban, a Marshfield Clinic Health System dietitian.

An official fruit

Wisconsin, a sandhill crane fly-over zone, is the No. 1 producer of this fruit in the U.S., though Massachusetts comes in a close second, according to Urban. Sixty percent of the country’s harvested cranberries come from Wisconsin and, no surprise, it’s the official fruit of the Badger state.

And, no surprise again, cranberries are healthy to eat but it depends on what you do to prepare them.

“With any type of fruit,” Urban said, “they are low in fat, sodium and cholesterol and can be part of a healthy diet. Remember, it’s what we do to fruit and vegetables that make them not so healthy.”

Tartness adds zip

A cup of cranberries is 50 calories and packed with lots of fiber and antioxidants – vitamins A, E and C. They’re naturally low in sugar, giving them that tart taste, and good to include in cooking. Urban uses them because of their tartness, putting them in stuffing, low-fat banana bread or muffins to add a zippier flavor.

“You don’t want to eat a whole cup of cranberries with the amount of sugar you have to add to balance the tartness, which defeats the cranberry’s health purpose,” she said.

In Wisconsin, you’ll find cranberries in the fall being sold directly from growers on roadside stands and, of course, in grocery stores. Cranberries, unrinsed, can be stored in your refrigerator in their original containers for about a month and frozen up to a year.

So, what about craisins? These dried cranberries often have lots of sugar added to them “so there again, craisins are OK but quantity becomes the issue,” she said.

And what about drinking cranberry juice to treat possible urinary tract infections (UTIs)?

“That’s the big old question – does cranberry juice eliminate UTIs? The answer is ‘no,’” Urban said. “You have to drink so much to make a difference and current research does not support that. It may be the placebo effect and any liquid helps.”

Urban looks forward to homemade cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, making it herself using a non-sugar sweetener or less sugar to cut calories and control the sweetness. But, she recommends them any time of year, especially to add extra flavor to roasted meats.

Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Prep time: 8 minutes

Servings: 6


  • 1 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 1 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 medium orange, peeled, seeded and diced


Combine the arrowroot or cornstarch, SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener and water in a medium saucepan, stirring until ingredients dissolve.

Stir in cranberries and diced orange. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often, over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes or until cranberry skins begin to pop and mixture begins to thicken. Set aside to cool. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.

Serve cold or warm over your favorite roasted meats.

Nutrition information

Each ½-cup serving contains 40 calories; 0 calories fat; 0g total fat; 0g saturated fat; 0mg cholesterol; 0mg sodium; 11g total carbs; 3g dietary fiber; 3g sugars; 1g protein.

Source: Splenda.com

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