A Healthier Holiday Cranberry Loaf

holiday cranberry loaf

We strive to make our good 'n healthy recipes good ‘n easy, too. This deliciously moist quick bread can be whipped up by hand in minutes, popped in the oven, and enjoyed as part of your holiday breakfast, brunch or dinner.

We reduced the amount of sugar and fat in the original recipe by using ¼ cup less sugar, and orange juice with 50 percent less calories and sugar. We cut the amount of butter in half, substituted applesauce, and replaced half the white flour with white whole wheat flour, which adds more fiber to your diet and helps balance blood sugar levels among many other benefits.

Substituting half of the refined white flour called for in a recipe with whole wheat flour is always the healthier choice. White whole wheat flour, milled from hard spring wheat, is lighter in color than the traditional red whole wheat, but is just as nutritious as whole wheat flour. And since it is lighter in color, gives baked goods a lighter taste and texture.

And one cannot serve holiday bread without the beautiful tart red cranberries. Possible health benefits of consuming cranberries include a lower risk of urinary tract infections, preventing certain types of cancer, improving the immune function and decreasing blood pressure.

The result? A ½ inch slice serving that’s about 118 calories and about 2 grams of fat, low in sodium and cholesterol, and, for a sweet treat, relatively low in carbs at about 22 grams. Now you can enjoy your holiday bread and eat it too!


  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 4 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¾ cup fresh orange juice with 50 percent less calories and sugar
  • Rind of one orange, grated
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh (raw) cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tablespoon flour

For glaze (optional): ¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon confectionary sugar 2 teaspoons orange juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Into a large bowl, sift together the 2 cups of flour with the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Use a pastry cutter or your hands to mix the butter into the flour mixture until crumbs form.
  4. Combine the applesauce, egg, orange juice and orange rind in a small bow then add to the crumb mixture.
  5. Using a large spoon beat the mixture by hand to make a batter. Or you can beat on low speed using a mixer until batter is blended.
  6. Combine the cranberries and walnuts with 1 tablespoon of flour and fold into the batter. (Coating nuts and berries with flour before adding to the batter keeps them evenly distributed and prevents them from sinking to the bottom.)
  7. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and line bottom of pan with wax paper.
  8. Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven and cool for ten minutes. Turn pan over to remove the loaf and gently peel off the wax paper. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep fresh until ready to serve.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature. If using the glaze, stir together the confectionary sugar and orange juice and drizzle over cake when it has completely cooled.

Note: It is normal for a crack to develop on top of quick breads. This happens when the top of the loaf “sets” in the heat of the oven before the bread is finished rising.

Makes about 16, ½ inch slices.

Nutritional Information
Per ½ inch slice: 117.5 calories; 2.1g total fat (0.5g saturated, 1.0g polyunsaturated, 0.4g monounsaturated); 93.3mg sodium; 13mg cholesterol; 21.9g carbohydrate; 1.5g fiber; 10.5g sugars; 2.7g protein; 21.5mg potassium.

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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