Now that fall is here, we can shift our focus to all of the wonderful foods that the season brings. Cranberries are one of those foods that I look forward to every autumn, especially with the holidays coming soon. Fall is the harvest season for cranberries, making this and winter their most popular months of consumption. Cranberries can be found in many forms, such as fresh, dried, in a sauce or in a powder or extract form that may be used in a supplement. Many find that they prefer the taste of dried cranberries, as fresh cranberries have a sharp and sour taste to them.
Not only are cranberries versatile in their form, they also are packed with vitamins and minerals. Cranberries, like blueberries, have powerful antioxidant properties thanks to an abundance of vitamin C and phytonutrients, which all may prevent chronic diseases. Vitamin C also is critical for maintenance of skin, muscle and bone, and fresh cranberries also contain manganese, which is used for growth and metabolism. The fiber found in cranberries helps to support a healthy digestive system as well as keep you full long after consumption. Fresh cranberries also are relatively low-calorie with only 45 calories per cup and contain mostly water.
It is important to note that many store-bought dried cranberries contain added sugar. They also may contain reduced levels of vitamin C. Since cranberries already contain natural sugar, I typically try to purchase the low-sugar version of dried cranberries if I am planning to use them in my cooking or recipes.
Although cranberries are a staple around the holiday season, they can be purchased frozen, which allows you to utilize them throughout the year. With their many forms, cranberries can be included in different recipes and dishes to add extra nutrients and antioxidants to your meals. For chicken or pork dishes, cranberries add a sweet taste that offsets saltiness. Cranberries (fresh or dried) also can add flavor to cereal, salad, yogurt and oatmeal.
Below you’ll find a recipe using reduced-sugar store-bought dried cranberries in combination with oats, almond butter and a few other ingredients to provide an antioxidant-rich snack. These energy bites are packed with fiber and healthy fats that help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
No-Bake Cranberry Energy Bites
Yields 14 servings; serving size of 1 energy bite
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup dried cranberries (I used the reduced-sugar version)
- ½ cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
- ½ cup crushed almonds
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup raw honey
In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients using a spoon or clean hands. Shape dough into 1 ½-inch balls and store in fridge until ready to be served.