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Take the Unprocessed Challenge this holiday season

Processed and prepackaged foods are quick and convenient, but can be lacking in flavor and definitely in nutrition.

These foods are responsible for the majority of added fats, salt and sugar in the standard American diet. Now more than ever, we see these foods becoming more of a staple in our everyday meals and creeping into our holiday menus.

Do you remember how the holidays used to be? Grandma’s homemade pies, Grandpa’s perfectly carved turkey, Mom’s silky whipped potatoes and crunchy green beans, and of course Dads “must have” made-from-scratch pancake breakfast! Ah, those where the days.

Sadly, we are seeing these traditions being replaced by frozen, instant, canned and boxed wanna-be versions of the of the real food.

Let’s fight back against the processed foods invading our holidays and get back to cooking in our kitchens. It’s the perfect time of year to pull out Grandma’s recipe box and cook together as a family!

By accepting this challenge you agree to the following terms and conditions:

  • Cook from scratch using whole, unprocessed foods.
  • Limit your use of boxed, prepackaged and canned foods.
  • Include as many colors as possible in your menu.
  • Use fresh or dried herbs and spices to flavor dishes.
  • Try out one new food.
  • Make favorite family recipes from scratch.
  • Experiment with making your own salad dressings, gravies and sauces.
  • Cut out caloric beverages that have added sugars.
  • If using prepackaged items, stick to foods that have less than five ingredients.
  • Cook as a family, enjoy the time together and create memories!

One of the most common things I no longer see at holiday meals is homemade cranberry sauce. We have become so accustomed to the jellied cranberry sauce in a can that the jiggle and shape is now normal to us! Not to mention it contains way too much added sugar that is not necessary.

Try this recipe for a healthy homemade version using only fresh fruits, juice and natural sweetener. It will look gorgeous on your holiday table and taste oh-so-good!

Unprocessed Cranberry Sauce


  • 1 package (~3 cups) fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1 tbsp. pineapple juice
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice or the juice of 2-3 oranges
  • 1-2 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds (use more for a thick sauce or less for a thin sauce)


  1. In a blender or food processor, blend the pineapple and 1 tbsp. pineapple juice until it is pureed.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the orange juice, pureed pineapple mixture, orange zest and maple syrup. Then add the cranberries after a few minutes. Cook until the cranberries pop and break down (about 10 minutes).
  3. Stir in chia seeds, remove from heat. The mixture will thicken while it stands (about 10 minutes).
  4. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately or refrigerate. (Leftovers can also be frozen.)

Happy Unprocessed Thanksgiving!

Be Well,

Eat Smart. Be Well. is brought to you by Martin’s Super Markets, in partnership with Beacon Health System. To subscribe to this column and receive email updates when new posts are published, visit our Subscribe page and select Eat Smart. Be Well.

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