pomegranates 2Thanksgiving is a special time of gratitude – for our friends, our family, and even our local farmers. As we plan our menus to celebrate the harvest season, I’m grateful that most of our traditional dishes can be made with ingredients sourced from our own Southern California backyard. But one dish that puts us in a pickle when it comes to traditional vs. local is the Thanksgiving staple of sweet, tart cranberry sauce. Whether you open a can or simmer your own fresh berries on the stove top, chances are that this star ingredient has flown across the country from Wisconsin or Massachusetts.

So this year, I set out to replace this out-of-town guest with a nearer and dearer substitute: apple-pomegranate-strawberry relish. Fuji apple provides a sweet base with a bit of naturally-occurring pectin to thicken it, strawberries provide color and a bit of sweet and sour, while fresh pomegranate seeds, or arils, provide the tartness and astringency we expect from the cranberry.

Garnished with fresh herbs like basil, parsley, or even mint, this simple relish nicely (and locally) rounds out your Thanksgiving Day feast with less than half of the added sugar found in traditional cranberry sauce. Leftovers are fantastic rolled up with almond butter in a sprouted tortilla, or stuffed into pita bread with feta cheese, spinach, and fresh mint.

Apple Pomegranate Strawberry Relish

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield: 2 1/2 cups


½ cup filtered water
½ cup raw or organic sugar
1 small, organic Fuji apple
½ inch fresh ginger
pinch of sea salt
1 pint organic strawberries
1 large pomegranate
½ cup basil and/or parsley, optional


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Meanwhile, grate the ginger and apple (keep the skin, but skip the core) using a box or cheese grater, and then add to the pan. Add just a pinch or a grind or two of sea salt.
  2. Simmer the apple, ginger, and sugar mixture uncovered for 5-10 minutes or until it begins to thicken, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, hull the strawberries and chop into about ½ inch pieces.
  3. Add strawberries to the apple-sugar-ginger mixture, stir well, and simmer about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cut the pomegranate in half and plunge into a large bowl of water. Working underwater, pluck out the seeds and peel them away from the white pith. Allow the seeds, or arils, to sink, pour off the water and pith, and then strain.

Remove the apple-strawberry mixture from the heat and allow to cool 5-10 minutes, then fold in the pomegranate seeds. Serve as is or garnish with fresh chopped herbs like basil, parsley and/or mint. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and enjoy for up to a week.

Red Jen Ford is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Yoga Instructor and Seasonal Eating Expert. Jen teaches her clients the benefits and simplicity of eating local, sustainably grown food. Enjoy more of her dishes in her seasonal recipe booklets or online course, Simply in Season ? Fall Recipes to Celebrate Healthy, Easy Seasonal Food.