Cranberries! One of those foods that we love to use around the holidays, and seem to forget the rest of the year!
I forget about them until I need a dish to take to a gathering or lunch meeting. Then the first dish I think about is the one I found by accident while looking through a collection of recipes. It was one of those books of recipes made by a church or community that I don’t even have anymore. Among the congealed type salads, with mostly fruit, nuts, maybe cream cheese, I saw a salad that combined cream cheese, pecans, whipped cream and cranberries!
I thought it was too good to be true, but it has a great combination of flavors that I look forward to every year. As a teacher and for family reunions, I have had lunch meetings, pot-luck meals, where I needed to find some kind of dish to take that wasn’t chips and dip or mac and cheese. We were all trying to eat healthier, but wanted something tasty and festive for the holidays.
I have adapted this recipe a little, using low-fat options where possible, and a sugar substitute. Still tastes fantastic! And it looks colorful and pretty, too! And as a special treat, I use a little of the cranberry in my blender to make a Cranberry Blueberry Smoothie! For more smoothie ideas, check out my post Healthy Smoothies from 6-3-2013! Enjoy!
Cranberry Surprise Salad
2 bags of cranberries (rinse and discard stems and bad berries!)
1/2 cup sugar or sugar substitute (I use Splenda-type sweetener)
1 small can crushed pineapple (drained)
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 8 oz. block softened cream cheese (low-fat Neufchatel works fine!)
1/2 tub low-fat (or no-fat) whipped topping
Rinse cranberries and check for stems and bad or soft cranberries. They should be hard and firm. Place good cranberries in blender or food processor (I have a Ninja that works well). Pulse a few times just until cranberries are chopped, but not pureed. Place the cranberries in a bowl with sugar or sugar substitute. Stir and let sit for a few minutes to let the sugar create a little juice.
Add softened cream cheese, pineapple that has been drained, and pecans. Stir until well blended with cranberries. Then stir in the whipped cream. Cover the bowl and chill in refrigerator overnight or a few hours until the cream cheese and whipped cream have firmed up a little and flavors have blended.
1. If you have extra time and want to make individual hand-held treats, place a spoonful of cranberry salad into bought bite-sized pastry shells.
2. Now that I have made this for over 20 years, I add extra pecans, less sugar, less whipped cream, and adapt to my tastes. Still tastes wonderful!
3. While making today’s salad, I realized I wanted a smoothie, so I held out about 1/3 cup of the chopped cranberries and used them as the base for my smoothie! Ingredients follow:
Cranberry Blueberry Smoothie
1/3 cup chopped cranberries
1 cup vanilla light soy milk
1/2 cup Greek vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup blueberries
1/3 cup frozen spinach
Place all in blender and mix! Ready to enjoy!
More Smoothie Recipes on my post from 6-3-2013 – Healthy Smoothies! .