Healthy Cranberry Orange Bread
Soft, fluffy and bursting with tart cranberry and orange flavors, this Healthy Cranberry Orange Bread is perfect for a holiday morning breakfast! Made with whole-wheat flour, applesauce and fresh cranberries, this bread is packed with nutritious ingredients, which are great for combating the holiday sugar rush!
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now it is officially the Christmas season. Although there are many classic holiday flavor combinations, like gingerbread or peppermint, one of my favorites might just be cranberry + orange. I love cranberry orange scones, cookies and cakes, but, when you’re surrounded by a vast variety of not-so-healthy foods around Christmastime, sometimes you just need a healthier treat to cleanse your palate. This bread recipe is perfect for when you need a wholesome breakfast, yet still want to embrace the flavors of the holiday season. If you need more convincing, check out the amazing nutritional benefits of the ingredients below:
Whole-Wheat Flour~ This flour is my go-to for all of my muffins and quick breads because it is a good source of fiber and nutrients, including B vitamins, iron and folate. Although you will lose some nutritional benefits, you can absolutely use all-purpose flour instead if you wish.
Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Salt~ These ingredients are important for flavor and ensuring that the loaf is soft and fluffy.
White Granulated Sugar~ For this recipe, I just use white sugar, but brown sugar can be used instead. I have not tried using honey or maple syrup, but if you experiment with a liquid sweetener, I might would reduce the orange juice to 1/2 cup.
Unsweetened Applesauce~ Applesauce adds a serving of fruit to this loaf and increases fiber and nutritional value. In addition, applesauce naturally sweetens the bread so that you don’t need to add a large amount of refined sugar to your loaf. You could also substitute mashed banana instead, but be aware that your bread may taste more like banana bread and less like cranberry orange bread.
Orange Juice~ I just use bottled orange juice from the grocery store with the pulp removed. If you use calcium and vitamin D fortified orange juice, that adds an extra boost of nutrients to your bread.
Eggs~ Eggs bind the loaf together and help it to rise evenly. If you need a vegan option, I would try substituting two flax eggs for the eggs. However, I have not personally tried flax eggs in this recipe, so I cannot vouch for those results.
Orange Zest~ You will need the zest from about one large orange. Technically, you could omit this ingredient, but I highly don’t recommend it because the majority of the orange flavor in this recipe comes from the orange zest.
Chopped Fresh Cranberries~ Cranberries are so good for you because they contain a high amount of fiber, vitamin C and a variety of other antioxidants. Around this time of year, they are usually easy to find in the produce section of your local grocery store. The cranberries are packaged whole, so you will need to give them a rough chop before adding them to your batter.
Chopped Walnuts~ I love adding chopped walnuts or pecans to this bread, but you could also add chopped almonds instead. Or, if you don’t prefer nuts or have an allergy, you can omit the nuts altogether.
To make Healthy Cranberry Orange Bread, start by whisking together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir until just combined before folding in the chopped cranberries and optional nuts. Spread the batter into a greased loaf pan and top with extra nuts if desired. Bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Enjoy this cranberry orange bread warm, room temperature or straight out of fridge; it’s good any way! This bread also freezes well, which makes it a great make-ahead recipe for Christmas morning. However you choose to enjoy a slice, I always recommend a cup of hot tea, a cozy blanket and some Christmas music to welcome in the holiday season. 🙂
Healthy Cranberry Orange Bread
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans optional
- Preheat oven to 350 °F and grease a 9×5 in loaf pan with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. To the flour mixture, add the unsweetened applesauce, orange juice, eggs and orange zest. Stir together ingredients until just combined before folding in the cranberries and nuts, if desired.
- Spread the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before turning out of the pan and serving.