Making Healthy Changes

— Written By and last updated by Meghan Lassiter
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Every family has some favorite foods that get pulled out for holidays and other special occasions. One dish that I’ve been making for many years is a Cranberry Apple Crisp. It is a very simple, fast recipe and can be made completely in the microwave.

One reason I like this recipe is that it contains fruit. So often during the holidays, our foods contain lots of fats and sugars. Crisps are a good way to get some fruit into your meals while still offering a sweet dessert. A crisp of any kind is also a good alternative to more traditional pies that have two crusts that are full of fat. Crisps only have one crust or a topping which is frequently made from healthful ingredients like oatmeal, nuts, or whole grain flour. I also like that it uses cranberries. Since we only get fresh cranberries a few months a year, this fruit seems special and festive. The color looks great on a dessert table, too.

Of all the fruits, cranberries have one of the lowest levels of natural sugar. One-half a cup of fresh cranberries has only two grams of sugar. Because of this, cranberries are often considered too tart to eat alone and are usually combined with other ingredients to make them palatable. Most recipes with cranberries have sugar added; in this recipe, you can reduce the amount of sugar if desired.
Also, using sweet apples will help make the dessert sweeter without as much
added sugar.

Cranberries are naturally high in fiber and vitamin C and contain just 25 calories per 1/2 cup of fresh berries. They are also full of antioxidants and other natural compounds that are known to promote health and wellness.

View a step-by-step demonstration of this delicious recipe on our YouTube channel!

cranberry apple crisp in a clear bowl Cranberry Apple Crisp


  1. 8 to 12 ounces raw cranberries
  2. 4 cups apples, sliced
  3. ½ to ¾ cup of sugar


  1. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  2. ½ cup butter
  3. ½ cup packed brown sugar
  4. ½ cup flour
  5. 1 cup oats


  • Wash hands and countertop before beginning to cook. Wash cranberries and apples under running water. Sort out any bruised or shriveled berries. Scrub the apples with a clean brush.
  • Combine cranberries, apples, and sugar in an 8 “x 8” glass baking dish. Mix lightly. Set aside.
  • Make topping: Microwave butter ¼ to ½ minute until softened. Blend in brown sugar and mix in flour, oats, and cinnamon until crumbly. Crumble over the cranberry and apple mixture.
  • Microwave on HIGH power, uncovered 10-11 minutes until fruits are tender, rotating dish once.

I did a quick nutritional analysis on this recipe. Makes 12 — ½ cup servings. Each serving has about 240 calories, 9 grams fat, and 38 grams carbs (didn’t separate natural sugar from added sugar).


  • Raw cranberries are usually sold in 12-ounce bags (about 3 cups of
  • Raw cranberries can be easily frozen for year-round use. Cranberries can
    be thrown in the freezer in their original bags, or better yet, wash, drain,
    dried, and put in a freezer bag or container so they can be used while still
    frozen. They will maintain their quality for 9-12 months.
  • This recipe is very flexible. The amount of cranberries and apples can vary
    based on what you have available, just make sure that there is room in the
  • The original recipe was tested in 600-watt microwave ovens; newer
    microwave ovens have higher wattages and may cook faster.
  • If you have a microwave with a turntable, you will not need to turn the crisp
    halfway through.
  • This recipe freezes well and can be made ahead when cranberries are in
  • Use old-fashioned or rolled oats. Do NOT use instant oatmeal. To increase the fiber in this recipe don’t peel the apples and use whole-
    wheat flour.

    Recipe adapted from Favorite Recipes from The Microwave Times Volume II, 1983. This article was written by Cheryle Syracuse for the Brunswick Beacon FCS Column. Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science staff member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, 910-253-2610 or by email at