Cranberry Sauce Experiments and Happy AmeriCorps Week!

I know there are a bajillion things being celebrated this month in my little world: National Nutrition Month, St. Patrick’s Day, Registered Dietitian Day (tomorrow, March 11th!), and this week happens to by AmeriCorps week!

As an AmeriCorps member, I have been given a few tasks to celebrate this week, and one of them is sharing a little bit of what I do with friends or family. I assume random people on the internet who read this blog count as well! Being the efficient person that I am, I have combined both recipes and a story of my service in one post.

My position as an AmeriCorps member involves two main pieces. I spend about 20 hours a week developing presentations, creating nutrition information handouts, and teaching nutrition classes to the community. The other half of my position is working at the food bank and helping with the distribution of food boxes.

One of my pet peeves is food waste, and this week I decided to finally do something to get rid of all the cans of cranberry sauce we had that were leftover from all the donations we received around Thanksgiving and Christmas time. If you have ever read the ingredients on a can of cranberry sauce, you’ll notice that most of them only contain two ingredients: cranberries and high fructose corn syrup. That being said, canned cranberry sauce isn’t the healthiest way to get your daily intake of fruits, but I felt good enough about it to use it to create a few healthy recipes. You could also use any type of jam you have in place of the cranberry sauce.

Cranberry sauce

First, I found a recipe online for cranberry bread. To make it healthier and vegan, I took out the butter and sugar and replaced both with applesauce, used whole-wheat pastry flour, and replaced eggs with chia seeds.

Now, I’ve made a ton of vegan quick breads in the past, so I assumed the instructions for this one would be the same. Mix all the wet ingredients, then stir in the dry ingredients. However, my bread ended up turning GREEN! Turns out, the original recipe said NOT to mix the cranberry sauce in with the batter. Instead, you are supposed to pour half the batter in the pan, layer the cranberry sauce in the middle, then cover with more batter. Apparently, the acid in cranberry sauce and basic baking soda interact to form a green color. Luckily, St. Patrick’s Day is next week, so I just used some clever marketing and called it St. Patrick’s Day bread!

IMG_20150310_124905

Here is the recipe with instructions for both a green and non-green version of the bread.

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Recipe: Cranberry Almond Bread (Vegan)

Makes 2 loaves

  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 2  chia seed eggs (2 Tbs chia seeds + 6 Tbs water. Let sit 10-15 min until gel forms.)
  • 2 tsp vanilla or almond extract
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 can (14oz) whole-berry cranberry sauce or 1-1.5 cups of any fruit jam
  1. In a large bowl, beat applesauce and chia seed eggs together. Beat in vanilla or almond extract. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix in cranberry sauce. Batter should be a green color.
  2. Grease two loaf pans and line bottom with parchment paper. Fill with batter.
  3. Bake loaves in a 350 degree oven for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  4. Remove and cool on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.

*If you don’t want the bread to turn green, omit the baking soda and do not mix cranberry sauce in with batter. Instead, fill each pan halfway with batter, layer cranberry sauce on top, then cover with remaining batter.

Here is my second recipe. We were also giving out peanut butter, applesauce, and oatmeal in the food boxes this week, so I decided to find a recipe using those ingredients as well.

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars

Recipe: Cranberry Oatmeal Bars (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Makes 12 bars

  • 2 and 1/4 cup oats (use GF oats if gluten-free)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 chia seed egg (1 Tbs chia seeds +3 Tbs water. Let sit 10-15 min until gel forms)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 (16 ounce) can jellied cranberry sauce or 1-1.5 cups of any fruit jam
  1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, peanut butter, maple syrup, applesauce, and chia seed egg. Mix until all of the oats are moistened and the mixture is thoroughly combined. Reserve 1/2 cup of the oat mixture. Press the remaining oat mixture into prepared baking pan. Make sure it is firmly pressed down and even. Spread the cranberry sauce on top. To the reserved 1/2 cup oat mixture, add the sliced almonds. Crumble this over the strawberry filling and, using the back of a spatula, press the topping down firmly into the cranberry filling. You want to make sure it sticks well.
  2. Bake for 25-30 minutes. The topping will be lightly browned. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Bars will be soft at room temperature, so it is best to keep them refrigerated or frozen right before eating.

In other exciting news, my last post for blueberry chia seed jam made it onto the exclusive Foodgawker website, as well as on Finding Vegan. It attracted quite a few viewers to this blog! I’m not concerned with the number of viewers or subscribers I have to this blog, but I am hoping that the few who do read this blog benefit from the recipes I post!

Finding Vegan

Looking for my usual avocado recipes? I recently also put this BuzzFeed list together for St. Patrick’s Day. I’m quite proud of it.

Happy AmeriCorps week!

Alice

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