Tart and tiny cranberries add a special seasonal kick to my ultra easy, low-sugar, healthy apple cranberry dessert recipe. The thing is cranberries can be super good for you if you just prepare them properly and refrain from adding globs of sugar. For unknown reasons to me, almost every single cranberry recipe I find calls for an obscene amount of sugar. Ultra sweet, cloying cranberry recipes completely derail any health-promoting properties you would have gotten from the cranberries. But, if you can figure out a way to minimize the sugar, cranberries can be a super healthy boost to your diet.
Phenols Contribute Greatly to the Health Benefits of Cranberries
Cranberries are incredibly healthy with plenty of vitamin C and fiber, but some of their most amazing health-promoting properties are due to the fact they are rich in phenols (also known as phenolic acids).
Phenols are protective phytonutrients found only in unprocessed “whole” plant-foods that have tremendous anti-aging, disease-fighting and cancer-preventing properties. According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, cranberries had a higher phenol concentration than any of the twenty commonly eaten fruits studied, including more phenols than red grapes, apples, strawberries or blueberries. And by the way, phenols are also found in abundance in wine and contribute greatly to wine’s cardio-protective reputation.
Clean Eating Healthy Dessert Recipe for the Holidays
Even I admit clean eating is a challenge this time of year. However, with a little imagination and forethought you can prepare festive eat clean recipes (including healthy dessert recipes!) everyone in your family will love. My mom created this apple cranberry dessert recipe and its not only incredibly simple to make, but you can make it up to a week in advance and it’s super versatile too. You can eat it on top of ice cream (I suggest dairy-free coconut ice cream, see below) but you can also serve it as a side dish to turkey. You can also make a too-die-for (and EASY!) chicken dinner dish by baking chicken breasts in white wine smothered with the apple cranberry sauce. My son even puts it on his mashed potatoes (sounds strange I know, but it’s really, really good!)
Put it Over Dairy-Free Ice Cream
I suppose you could put the apple cranberry dessert over an all-natural ice cream (such as Breyer’s) but the healthiest way to go is to put it on top of dairy-free coconut ice cream. My all time favorite brand is Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss (I especially love richly flavored “Vanilla Island” with my apple cranberry dessert). And don’t worry, the coconut flavor is not at all noticeable and will not overpower the apple cranberry dessert at all. By the way, you can read more about why I prefer coconuts to dairy HERE.
Healthy Apple Cranberry Dessert Recipe
Apple Cranberry Topping:
- 3 organic Fuji apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- 1 medium orange, peeled and sectioned
- 1 1/2 cup fresh organic cranberries
- 1/4 cup agave syrup (sub maple for AIP/Paleo or honey for SCD)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- In a food processor, combine the apples and oranges. Cover and process until finely chopped. Set aside.
- Add the cranberries and agave syrup to a medium sized heavy sauce pan. Add just enough water to barely cover the cranberries. Cover the pot and cook the cranberries, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes, or until the cranberries pop. Add the apples, oranges, cinnamon and about 1 cup of water. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until apples are soft. Remove the skillet from the heat and set the apple cranberry sauce aside to cool (it will thicken as it cools.) Transfer the cooled cranberry mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving.
Note: Apple cranberry sauce will keep nicely if stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week.
Spoon the apple cranberry topping onto a small scoop of vanilla ice cream (preferably dairy-free coconut “ice cream” such as Organic Coconut Bliss). You can also add a few chopped walnuts and a little douse of amaretto to make it extra special 😉