I am officially starting my Christmas baking today. I am preparing an old favorite family recipe, Cranberry Orange Nut Bread. I remember helping my mother prepare this when I was growing up. It will be on my Christmas menu and I plan to bring a loaf to my women’s bible study Christmas party next week. This bread is not only delicious but very healthy and  moderately low in calorie, fat, sodium and cholesterol content.. It can be adjusted into a carbohydrate controlled meal plan for diabetes or weight loss also. I have also made a gluten free version of this for my niece and her family since they are following a gluten and dairy free diet. I will feature that recipe in a future blog next week.

This quick bread is delicious for breakfast, snack time or served at a holiday celebration.

I enjoy Christmas baking but I like to “tweak” or modify many recipes to lower the calorie, saturated fat, cholesterol and carbohydrate content of the recipe for a couple of simple reasons. I do not want to gain extra weight over the holiday season and I enjoy eating healthy foods. I still want my recipe to taste good so I won’t modify my recipes to the point where they don’t taste good. Of course, I do enjoy sampling other people’s holiday foods and if they are higher in saturated fat or calorie content, I enjoy them in moderation. For example, my brother in law Al makes buckeyes from peanut butter and chocolate. They are out of this world in good taste so I try to limit myself to a couple of these! I am also in my fifties and realize that I do not have the metabolism of a twenty five year old anymore since the rate of metabolism decreases approximately 3 to 5 percent or more each decade as we age. I try to offset that by burning calories with walking on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I have had a cast or splint on my leg now for 6 weeks so walking is out for awhile but I do have some three pound arm weights that I lift each day as well as doing leg lifts with a three pound ankle weight from my recliner. Soon I will have my cast off and be able to resume my walking once again! I may have to mall walk or walk with my Leslie Sansome walking DVDsince it is chilly up here in the northland! I will share some of my favorite recipe swaps with you below.



Cranberry Orange Nutbread

5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe type: quick bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 loaf (16 slices)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, minus 2 TB
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 1 TB grated orange peel
  • 2 TB canola oil, regular or expeller pressed
  • 1 egg or 2 egg whites well beaten
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cups chopped walnuts
  • 2 TB ground flaxseed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with non-stick spray or grease with oil to prevent sticking. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and flaxseed. Stir until well combined. Add orange juice, orange peel, oil and egg and stir in well. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread mixture evenly in a loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of loaf comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool down completely before slicing. Makes one loaf. (16 slices)
Count 1/16 of a loaf as 2 carbohydrate choices
Since I am using 2 TB of ground flax seed, I am reducing the flour in the recipe by 2 TB.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice Calories: 175 Fat: 6 grams Saturated fat: 0 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 27 grams Sodium: 156 mg Fiber: 1 gram Protein: 3 grams Cholesterol: 18 mg

The recipe that my mother used to make was on the Ocean Spray cranberry bag and although it was delicious, I modified the recipe by reducing the sugar to 3/4 cup from 1 cup, reducing the salt to 1/2 tsp from 1 tsp. I substituted canola oil in place of the 2 TB shortening called for in the original recipe to reduce the saturated fat content of the recipe.  I also added 2 TB ground flaxseed to the recipe. This recipe swap reduces the calories per slice by 36, carbohydrates are reduced by 10 grams and the sodium is cut by 157 mg. If you choose to use 2 egg whites in place of 1 egg, the cholesterol content is now zero. Some of you may want to use a sugar substitute such as stevia in place of some of the sugar also. Twelve packets of stevia are equal to 1/2 cup of sugar in a recipe.



Ingredient                                         Substitution                                                                                                  


1 cup sugar                                        1/2 cup sugar                                                                                                                                 

1 cup vegetable oil                           1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup applesauce                                         

1 cup sour cream                             1 cup reduced fat sour cream                                                                      

1 egg                                                   2 egg whites                                                                                                        

1/2 cup mayonnaise                        1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise                                                                                                                      

You will save 385 calories by reducing your sugar by 50% in the example above. The simple recipe swap using half oil and half applesauce in the example will save you 884 calories and 20 tsp of fat. Using your reduced fat sour cream save you 160 calories and 3 tsp of fat in your recipe. If you substitute the egg whites in place of one egg, you will save 45 calories, 1 tsp of saturated fat and 278 mg of cholesterol per egg. Lastly, by using the reduced fat mayonnaise, you will save 360 calories and 18 tsp of fat in your recipe. It all adds up!

You can also increase the fiber content of your recipes by using all whole wheat flour or 50% white four and 50% whole wheat flour. If you are baking gluten free, use the brown rice flour instead of the white rice flour to boost fiber and nutritional content. You can also purchase gluten free flour from ground legumes such as black bean flour. Almond flour  is made from whole ground blanched almonds. It is a good source of protein, fiber, Vitamin E and magnesium. Almond and coconut flour are higher in fat content than gluten containing flours, but they are a healthier form of fat. They are also lower in carbohydrate content than gluten containing  flours.

Ground flaxseed is a nutritional star! Each tablespoon is rich in fiber, omega 3 fatty acids and essential nutrients like copper, magnesium and thiamine. Grind the whole flaxseed so that you receive the nutritional benefits. The ground flaxseed is much easier for your body to digest.Ground flaxseed has a high concentration of healthy oils so it can be used as an egg replacement when baking or use in baked goods as a replacement for some of the flour. Use  1 tablespoon ground flaxseed  with 3 tablespoons of water or other type of liquid to replace each egg in cakes, cookies, muffins or pancakes. You may substitute ground flaxseed for the oil, butter or margarine in a baked good recipe in a 3-to-one ratio. For every 1/3 cup of fat called for, use one cup of ground flaxseed or flaxseed flour instead. For every one tablespoon of fat, use 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed or flaxseed flour. You can replace some of the flour in your recipe with ground flaxseed also. Replace up to 15% of the white or wheat flour in your baked goods with ground flaxseed. If this is a yeast bread, use 25% more yeast than the recipe calls for. If you are preparing an egg based yeast bread, avoid using ground flaxseed as an egg replacement.


Take time to enjoy the Christmas season with family and friends. My niece has planned an advent calender to share with her two young sons Luke and Matt. You can read about this more at her Maria makes Muffins blog. Other families prepare an advent wreath and light one candle each week before Christmas and enjoy a family dinner or snack at this time. A hot chocolate and Christmas cookie party sounds like fun or an eggnog and dark chocolate covered pretzel holiday party would work too!  On the lighter side, you could prepare some Cranberry Spritzers by combining equal part of cranberry juice, white grape juice and black cherry flavored sparkling water. This makes a refreshing punch. Serve this with a platter of fresh fruit and cream cheese or yogurt based fruit dip as well as some hummus, whole grain crackers, raw veggies and cranberry orange nutbread. It is never too late to start a new holiday tradition. Enjoy this magical time of year and  also remember Jesus is the reason for the season!




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