Happy turkey day! Or happy tofu-turkey day if you’re vegan. This Thanksgiving, my family and I traveled to El Paso to visit my mother’s side of the family. Like everyone else, I love to spend time with family I don’t get to see often. It’s especially fun coming back to my west Texas hometown because it gives me the opportunity to shake the rust of my Spanish. I consider myself bilingual, but let’s just say my Spanish needs a little bit of work. Besides speaking Spanish, I can also expect to see every member of the family contribute to the feast in one way or another. Obviously cooking is more difficult when you aren’t in the comfort of your own kitchen but I wanted to feel like I contributed in some way. I decided to lean on my trusted orange cranberry sauce recipe. I have made it the last three years on this holiday and it couldn’t be easier to do!
In the spirit of this holiday centered around food, I decided not to take the healthiest approach with this classic Thanksgiving dish; mainly because I wasn’t in my own home and I didn’t have access to very many ingredients. So what’s unhealthy about it? It contains the devil of all ingredients: half a cup of white sugar. I hope you health freaks can forgive me, but just in case you can’t, I will be suggesting a couple of healthful alternatives towards the end of this post. Plus, if I’m being honest, the cranberry sauce was too pretty not to blog.
It starts with bringing half a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice, half a cup of sugar and half a cup of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. You can use bottled orange juice but make sure you look for one with no added sugar; the sauce could be too sweet if you go for a sweetened version. When the orange juice, water and sugar mixture come to a boil, add a 12-ounce package of fresh cranberries, thin slices of orange peel and a teaspoon of nutmeg. I like to add the peel of about half an orange and while that may sound like a lot, it does not overpower the sauce. Once the ingredients are added, bring the sauce back to a boil. Lower the heat to medium/low once you see that most of the cranberries have burst. I also like to remove the orange peels at this point. (Tip: keep the orange peels on the bigger side so that they are easy to find. This makes removal easy. Trust me, no one wants to take a bite of forgotten orange peel!) Continue to cook the cranberry sauce until you see it has thickened, then turn the heat to low and let the sauce cook for 3-5 minutes more, ensuring that anymore unecessay liquid is evaporated. (Tip: Remember that this is still a sauce so there is going to be some liquid at the end and because it is hot, evaporation will continue even after it is taken off the heat. Don’t let the sauce turn to a paste!) You can then turn off the heat and serve immediately or store in the fridge for later.
This sauce is sweet and tart with a pleasant citrusy note that takes this classic side to the next level. This is definitely a family favorite that won’t disappoint and because sugar is the only unhealthy ingredient in this recipe, you health freaks have a couple of options. You can start by simply lower the sugar amount until you feel comfortable with the sweetness for a tarter version. You can go even farther by completely cutting the sugar amount in half and adding a couple of tablespoons of stevia to subsidize the sweetness without the additional calories. While completely substituting the white sugar for a natural sweetener is another option, you can also go half and half with the white sugar and natural sweetener for a lower glycemic index. No matter what route you take with the sweetener, one thing’s for sure; you’ll never settle for regular cranberry sauce again!