Cranberries: A Festive Superfood for Dinner and Dessert

With the holidays right around the corner, it’s time for cranberry season. During the fall and winter months, I buy bags of fresh cranberries while they are available at the market and freeze them.They are seasonal and you can’t get fresh cranberries in the spring or summer — that’s when having bags of frozen berries comes in handy. They can stay in your freezer for up to nine months! I serve fresh cranberries all year long and put them in various recipes.

Health Benefits:

There are many health benefits to cranberries and you should consider adding them to your daily diet by eating the berries, drinking the juice or taking a supplement. Cranberries offer antioxidants, phytonutrients, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer health benefits. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C, K, E, and fiber. They are even considered a superfood!

Here are a few of the health benefits of the little tiny red berry:

  • IMG_2961Improves mental health by relieving anxiety, depression, and stress
  • Good for the brain and helps improve memory
  • Helps fight heart disease
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Prevents dental problems
  • Fights cancers
  • Helps kidney and bladder problems and treats urinary tract infections
  • Helps to strengthen the immune system
  • Contains anti-aging properties

Incorporating Cranberries into Your Diet:

  • Add dried cranberries to your oatmeal, smoothies, salads, cereal, soups, pasta, salads, baked goods, chicken and fish dishes
  • Drink cranberry juice, which has anti-inflammatory components that help heal the body
  • Make a batch of cranberry sauce to use over Greek yogurt, frozen yogurt or in between sandwiches — like turkey or chicken!

Cranberry Sauce with Port Wine

When I made this recipe for the first time, I thought this recipe would not only work well with the Thanksgiving meal, but could also double as a dessert. As part of the dessert, I served the cranberry sauce with frozen yogurt and drizzled a balsamic glaze over the top. It tasted so light and refreshing, especially after eating such big meal. If you want to indulge every once in a while, it’s okay! You can use peppermint or French vanilla ice cream or a fruit sorbet.

Okay, my friends, here is the deal. I’m going to be totally honest and tell you I tried making the cranberry sauce using agave syrup, raw sugar and coconut palm sugar. None of it worked. The taste was flat and the ratio from sweet to tart just wasn’t happening. So I went back to using regular sugar! I know I have been preaching (as loud as I can) about the dangers of processed white sugar and it is bad for you. This is a one-day only thing. I’m going to enjoy the day and not feel guilty.



  • 1 bag (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup port wine
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts, or pecans, toasted
  • 6 fresh mint leaves
  • Favorite, ice cream or frozen yogurt


  • Toast the walnuts by placing them in a small, cold frying pan. Turn the heat to medium and shake back and forth for 5 minutes until they start to release their natural oils and turn golden. Set aside off the heat.
  • Place the first seven ingredients into a medium saucepan and bring to a rapid boil. When the cranberries begin to pop, bring the heat down to a gentle boil for 5 to 8 minutes longer.
  • Turn off the heat and let cool to room temperature. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator overnight to give a chance for the flavors to meld.
  • Just before serving, add the toasted walnuts or pecan, orange zest and chopped mint and stir together.
  • If using the cranberry sauce as a dessert, place a scoop of frozen yogurt or ice cream in a bowl and pour over 3 tablespoons of the cranberries. Top with more fresh, lightly chopped mint leaves, pecans or walnuts and orange zest!
  • The cranberries can be made 2 to 3 days ahead and kept cold in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Watch Maria and Cristina chat about the benefits of cranberries in this week’s Facebook Live:

Talking healthy cranberries with Cristina Ferrare! Join us! (tap video for sound)

Posted by Maria Shriver on Thursday, October 27, 2016

About the Author

author image

Cristina Ferrare is a New York Times bestselling author. Her fifth and most recent cookbook, Big Bowl of Love was released on Mother’s Day 2011 and she is hard at work on her next series of cookbooks! The success of her books attests to her expertise in the areas of women’s health, wellbeing, culinary arts, stylistic design, as well as her great zest for life and her humor.Cristina served as co-host of “Home & Family along with Emmy Award winner journalist Mark Steines for the Hallmark Channel from 2012 through 2016 and the show received multiple Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lifestyle Program during that time.Cristina is married to entertainment executive Tony Thomopoulos. They have a blended family of seven children and four grandchildren.

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