By Kim Beavers

Cranberries always make a big splash during the holiday season. These seasonal fruits, harvested between Labor Day and Halloween, peak in supermarket displays through December. Their short season and beautiful color make them an ultra-festive treat this time of year. They are rich in nutritional attributes. They pack in some vitamin C, have plenty of phytochemicals, a decent amount of fiber and are low in calories. Make sure to grab them while you can!

Suggestions for storage and use

• Store cranberries tightly wrapped and unwashed in plastic (or the unopened bag); they will keep in the refrigerator for up to two months. 

• Due to the short growing season, it is good to buy extra bags of cranberries to freeze. Simply sort the fruit, unwashed in a plastic freezer bag, and store up to one year. Frozen cranberries do not require thawing, just rinse under cold running water and use as directed.

• Sort fresh berries for use by discarding blemished or soft/discolored ones, then place in a strainer. Rinse gently with cool running water.

Serving suggestions

• For cranberry sauce: boil fresh cranberries in water and add sugar or alternative sweetener to your taste. The sauce is ready when the cranberries pop.

• Muffin batters: add cranberries to different muffin mixes for extra zing (cut them in half and toss them with sugar just before mixing them into the batter).

• Mix whole fresh cranberries with other fruits to make holiday pies.

• DIY holiday gift idea: make sugared cranberries and package them in festive mason jars with holiday ribbon (

• Cranberries are also great for decoration. Giving someone a plant as a gift? Sprinkle cranberries over the top of the dirt for a festive presentation.

Cran-banana Bread
This bread has a deliciously sweet and tart flavor. The color of the cranberries makes it as beautiful as it is delicious.
(Whole wheat pastry flour is found in most grocery stores; it is lower in protein and yields a more tender product than traditional whole wheat flour.)

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or 1 ¼ cup all-purpose and ¾ cup whole wheat)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons organic Canola oil
1/3 cup low-fat ricotta cheese (or yogurt)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350º. 

Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine the bananas, oil, ricotta cheese, eggs and vanilla extract; stir well. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture, stir until just moist. Fold in cranberries. 

Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350º for 40-50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. 

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Nutrient Breakdown: Calories 180, Fat 3.5g (0g sat. fat, 1.5g mono. fat); Cholesterol 20mg, Sodium 160mg, Carbohydrate 34g, Fiber 4g, Protein 5g.

Exchanges:  2 Carbohydrates, ½ Fat

Kim’s note:  This can also be made with ¾ cup Splenda® for baking blend or ½ cup Truvia® Cane sugar blend in place of the sugar. The nutrition breakdown with the baking blend is 150 calories and 27g carbohydrate (which saves you 7g carbohydrate per serving).

Until next time; eat well, live well.


Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels