Health experts agree there is a clear association between a diet high in fruits and vegetables and reduced risk of chronic disease. Phytonutrients, naturally derived plant compounds, particularly antioxidants, are increasingly being shown to help optimize human health. Among the fruits richest in health-promoting antioxidants, cranberries rank right up there at the top. According to Rui Hai Liu, M.D., Ph.D., a leader in cranberry research, “Cranberry extracts have been shown to exhibit potent antioxidant activity, inhibit LDL oxidation and have anti-bacterial and anticancer activities. The phytochemicals present in cranberries, especially phenolics and flavonoids, appear responsible for these health benefits.”
The most commonly consumed form of the cranberry is juice processed from the berries and typically produced by adding generous amounts of sugar and water. You won’t derive the health benefits that cranberries offer from drinking commercially ready cranberry flavored sugar water. In fact, according to The Cranberry Institute, “many cranberry juice products commonly available to consumers, including cranberry juice cocktail, contain 27 percent cranberry juice, NOT 100 percent.”
Making your own unsweetened cranberry syrup from fresh or frozen cranberries is quite easy. Not only can the syrup be combined with water and stevia to make cranberry juice, it can also be used in sauces and adult beverages. I’ve been using my most recent batch of cranberry syrup to make a sparkling cranberry drink by mixing it with club soda and stevia. Ahhhh, so thirst quenching!Although I came up with this basic cranberry syrup with the intention of diluting it and drinking it, it could also be used in place of pancake syrup. I am sure it would be amazing over any of my healthy waffle or pancake recipes. Don’t forget to add some stevia or xylitol though to sweeten it, or you will end up with a very tart syrup.
A little foreshadowing, wink, wink, I also have a cranberry margarita in the works for Cinco de Mayo and a to die for cranberry barbeque sauce.
Finding fresh cranberries may prove futile at this time of year, but health food stores typically carry organic frozen ones. I stocked up at the end of last holiday season, and purchased several pounds of fresh cranberries and then froze them. Remember this tip next Thanksgiving when you see them marked down to move, fresh cranberries can be frozen for up to a year.
Prep Time: 1 Minute
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Makes: 20 – 2 oz. Servings
- 12 oz. Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
- 4 c. Filtered Water
- In a saucepan on medium-high, combine water and cranberries.
- Cook cranberries until they all pop.
- Mash popped cranberries with a slotted spoon and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Pour cranberries into a high-powered blender and blend on high for 1 minute.
- Strain syrup through a fine mesh sieve, cool on counter in glass jar, cover and refrigerate.
Sugar-Free Sparkling Cranberry Juice
only 10 calories and less than 2g of carbs!!!!
In an ice-filled pint glass, combine and stir…
2 oz. Cranberry Syrup
8-10 oz. Club Soda
25-30 Drops Liquid Stevia