LiveSmart: Flavorful and Full of Nutrients – Don’t Forget the Cranberries this Thanksgiving!

[This piece was written by Jamie Epting, MS, RD, CDN, the system director for clinical nutrition with St. Peter’s Health Partners.]

There are so many great foods that come to mind when we think of Thanksgiving.

The turkey, of course, takes main stage on most holiday tables. There are the traditional sides of mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and the beloved stuffing. Usually something green can be found; maybe some green beans or roasted Brussel sprouts. And perhaps some favorite pies for dessert, with apple and pumpkin being the most traditional.

But there is that little bowl of wine-colored deliciousness that can’t be forgotten for most traditionalists – the cranberry sauce! Some people buy it in a can, either gel or whole berry style, but it is the homemade cranberry sauce bubbling on the stove with orange zest and cinnamon that really gets my taste buds excited. Best of all, it is so easy to make – check out the recipe below – and tastes a million times more delicious.

Cranberries, often considered a superfood, are packed full of healthy goodness. One cup of fresh cranberries contains 25 percent of your daily need of vitamin C. This is great for warding off those holiday sniffles as it helps to build up your immune system. Vitamin C also helps support healthy bones, skin, gums and blood vessels, and repairs cell damage.

Cranberry intake has been linked to a decreased risk of cancer and urinary tract infections. And that cup of cranberries only has about 50 calories and zero fat. They are high in fiber and naturally low in sugar. All of these great things make cranberries a good choice for just about anyone.

In addition to cranberry sauce, I enjoy incorporating cranberries into traditional dishes for a fresh take and some extra flavor. Dried cranberries are a great addition to your holiday stuffing. You can also sprinkle some fresh cranberries into your apple pie to make one of the most scrumptious pies you have ever tasted.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at St. Peter’s Health Partners!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce


  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup water
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked through
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 piece orange peel (use a potato peel or paring knife)


  • Combine sugar, orange juice and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine.
  • Add cranberries, salt, cinnamon stick and orange peel.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  • Continue cooking, for about 10 minutes, or until all or most of the cranberries have popped. (For added texture, leave a handful of berries whole.)
  • Let cool for at least 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Can be made up to three days in advance.


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