Cranberry Chia Crisp

(Disclosure: I entered this recipe video into a contest sponsored by Cape Cod Select Premium Cranberries. I was not compensated for the recipe development. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own.) 

 Cranberry Chia Crisp

Cranberry Chia Crisp

Cranberry Chia Crisp

Cranberries are just one of those foods I associate with the holidays. Growing up, it was always cranberry sauce (from the can!) at Thanksgiving and Christmas. As I've gotten older I've branched out a little with cranberry salad, chutney and even salsa. But honestly, apart from sprinkling dried cranberries on a salad occasionally, I haven't thought of cranberries all that much except around the holidays. Which is a shame because they are a nutrition powerhouse and thanks to frozen cranberries, they can be enjoyed year-round!

Cranberry ingredients.jpg

Most people think of cranberries and especially cranberry juice in relation to helping prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney stones, but cranberries are packed with a host of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. In cell studies, the antioxidants in cranberries and cranberry extract was found to decrease free radical damage to DNA and decrease inflammation. (American Institute for Cancer Research)

In fact, cranberries have one of the highest Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scores - higher than blueberries, cherries, raspberries and strawberries. The ORAC score is a measurement of the antioxidant strength of a food. (So, in essence, cranberries are the berry equivalent of the New England Patriots, Houston Astros, Roger Federer and every other sports figure and team dominating the competition - that exhausted my sports knowledge and I actually had to Google this past year's Super Bowl champion!)

 Beautiful red color!

Beautiful red color!

Frozen berries are an easy way to incorporate these antioxidant-rich foods in a variety of dishes - stir into oatmeal, blend in a smoothie, toss on a salad, or bake up a fruit crisp! I added chia seeds to this crisp to boost the antioxidant level even more as well as help thicken the filling. As the chia seeds soak in the liquid they expand, almost forming a gel (if you like apple butter, be sure and try the Slow Cooker Apple Butter with Chia). In place of sugar or brown sugar I used maple syrup as the sweetener. I've found that I can use a lot less maple syrup to get that sweet flavor than using sugar (and the maple flavor complements the tart cranberries perfectly).   

This dessert is special enough for Thanksgiving or Christmas but easy enough to make year-round! Using frozen berries, the prep time is less than 15 minutes. Cook for 30 minutes and it's done! 

 Cranberry Chia Crisp

Cranberry Chia Crisp

Cranberry Chia Crisp

Ingredients

Filling:

  • 1 (12 ounce package) frozen cranberries
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Topping:

  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned (regular) oats
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted

Vanilla yogurt, optional, for topping

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine all filling ingredients except vanilla in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries start to “pop” and the liquid has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a 1 quart baking dish or 8-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.

For the topping, combine the whole-wheat flour, oats, pecans and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the maple syrup and melted butter and stir to combine. Sprinkle topping over the cranberry filling. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until bubbly and topping has browned. Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla yogurt, if desired.

Serves 8

(Note: I took some of the leftovers to work in a container with vanilla yogurt, kept it in the refrigerator and enjoyed it as an afternoon snack. The oat topping softened and it tasted like baked oatmeal - yum!)