December: Cranberries

by Natalie Sidun

Cranberries seem to have the spotlight during Thanksgiving dinner, enjoyed in its beloved form of cranberry sauce, but this fruit is often overlooked for the rest of the year. Cranberries are packed with nutritious components that are beneficial year-round.

Cranberries come in many forms. These little gems can be purchased fresh, dried, or canned making them very versatile in the kitchen. People should be wary of fresh cranberries because of their natural tartness. If using fresh cranberries be sure to cook them with some type of sugar to take away the bitter flavor and make them a bit more pleasing to the palate. Canned and dried cranberries usually already have sugar added for this reason.

These little berries pack a nutritious punch. Like many fruits, cranberries contain a wide variety of vitamins including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Vitamin A.1 They also contain phytochemicals and antioxidants that fight chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.2 Plant foods such as cranberries have a unique makeup of nutrients which act as medicine in the body when consumed in its whole food form.

Watch out bacteria. Antioxidants found in cranberries, are the reason for the fruit’s popularity as a treatment for urinary tract infections by stopping bacteria from attaching to the uterine wall.3 Cranberries are also beneficial to dental health because the same antioxidant prevents bacteria from binding to teeth, stopping gum disease in its tracks.1


Cranberry Oat Bars4


  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 ½ cups flour ( all-purpose, whole wheat, or oat)
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup refined coconut oil (note: unrefined oil will give bars a coconut flavor)


  1. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine the cranberries, white sugar and orange zest. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until the mixture has reduced to about 1 cup.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan or line with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the coconut oil using your hands or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press half of this mixture firmly into the prepared pan. Spread the cranberry sauce evenly over the base, then crumble the remaining oat mixture over the top.
  4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top is golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into bars.


  1. Ware M. Cranberries: Health benefits, nutritional content, and risks. Medical News Today. Published September 25, 2017. Accessed November 1, 2018.
  2. Upton J. 10 Surprising Facts About Cranberries. U.S. News & World Report. Published June 16, 2016. Accessed November 1, 2018.
  3. Duffey KJ, Sutherland LA. Adult cranberry beverage consumers have healthier macronutrient intakes and measures of body composition compared to non-consumers: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2008. Nutrients. 2013;5(12):4938-49. Published 2013 Dec 4. doi:10.3390/nu5124938
  4. Inger BM. Cranberry Oat Bars Recipe. Allrecipes. Published January 1, 2010. Accessed November 1, 2018.
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