Macro-friendly recipes the whole family will love!

Cranberry Salsa + Holiday Appetizer Ideas

Cranberry Salsa  + Holiday Appetizer Ideas

The holiday season is upon us, and, like it or not, it’s time to start thinking about what’s going to be on our Thanksgiving spread this year. I’ve decided to come up with a series of posts that will help you get inspired for what to serve at your celebration. Some of them will be more macro-friendly and other more indulgent.

You might be curious why I’ve decided to choose both. The reason is I don’t believe that Thanksgiving Day is a day where you should be worried about your macros. It is one day that is best spent enjoying your time with family and celebrating all the good things in your life. However, I know some of you may be looking for a lighter option to serve at a holiday party or your preference is to keep it lighter. If that’s the case, I say do what works for you!


I love appetizers, especially on the holidays. A typical holiday for us usually begins with church in the morning, and then we gather together in the mid-afternoon. We usually just eat one big meal around 4 o’clock, so that means there is plenty of time for snacking. Our family usually opts for a traditional charcuterie board (meat, cheeses, nuts, crackers, etc.), but here are some other ideas:

  • Spinach and Artichoke Dip (Six Sister’s Stuff): This dip is so good and so creamy. Best of all, you can prep it in the crockpot! This helps free up some time for you to focus on the main meal.
  • Pineapple Pecan Cheese Ball (Taste of Home): I have made this many times before to bring to holiday get-togethers, and every time I get rave reviews. I know the combo sounds interesting, but it is to die for!
  • 3 Ingredient Crockpot Meatballs (I Heart Naptime): So easy and always a crowd favorite!
  • Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers (The Pioneer Woman): If I want to make my husband insanely happy, I just make this appetizer. So good!
  • Macro Friendly Recipes (Lillie Eats and Tells): I know that Lillie from Lillie Eats and Tells also has a free e-book on her website filled with 7 free macro-friendly appetizers if you’re looking for something a little lighter to share.

Cranberry Salsa

I first had this recipe last year at a Christmas party, and I thought it was such a festive way to kick off a holiday celebration. First of all, the deep red color just screams holiday, as does the addition of fresh cranberries. Cranberries aren’t just for jelly!

Why This Recipe

  1. It is both spicy and sweet and is unique from a traditional holiday appetizer.
  2. Thanks to fresh ingredients, it is very refreshing. It contrasts well with an otherwise heavy meal.
  3. The recipe is  very simple together. You just combine some ingredients into the food processor, blend, and you’re done!
  4. This salsa can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. Saves you some time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day!
  5. It’s delicious for any time of the year, not just holidays.

What You’ll Need

  1. A food processor or a high power blender for creating the salsa. It makes it SO simple to create.
  2. Fresh ingredients: cranberries (I got mine from Costco), cilantro, jalapeno, green onions, and limes (or buy lime juice).
  3. Pantry Ingredients: Sugar. I know it’s not ideal to have sugar in a recipe, BUT it is so necessary to pull off the sweet and spicy flavor profile.
  4. Spices: Cumin and salt.

How to Serve

Once you have your salsa made, there are a few routes you can go for serving it. First, you could serve it as is with some tortilla chips and keep it simple. You can also add it on top of a couple of bricks of softened cream cheese for a little extra indulgence. I’ve eaten it with crackers this way, and it is SO good. I also think this would be a beautiful addition to a charcuterie board!

Make It Macro Friendly

I have a few tips on how you could make this more macro-friendly if desired:

  1. If you want to serve it with cream cheese, you could opt for either light cream cheese or fat-free.
  2. Substitute for the sugar your favorite sugar substitute. I am not a fan of sugar substitutes personally, but if you enjoy them, this would be a great way to lower the carbs.
  3.  Serve with reduced-fat crackers. Or make ahead a time some lavash chips to enjoy with your portion and serve with regular crackers for guests.

The macros for the cranberry salsa, as prepared below, are rounded to 10C for 30 g, or around 39 calories. If you prepare it with a sugar substitute, it would be 10 calories for 30 g or just 3C. Either way, it is an appetizer that is sure to please guests and would be a wonderful addition to your meal.



Cranberry Salsa

A sweet and spicy salsa made with cranberries for an extra holiday twist.


  • 12 oz fresh cranberries (340 g)
  • 1 bunch cilantro (27 g)
  • 5 green onions, cut into thirds (35g)
  • 1 jalapeno (seeded, if afraid of too much heat) (33 g)
  • 2.5 T lime juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar, or sugar substitute (150 g)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste

For Serving

  • 2 bricks of cream cheese (optional)
  • tortilla chips or crackers


  • Place all of the ingredients into a food processor or high powered blender. Puree until mostly smooth. Serve over bricks of cream cheese and with crackers or tortilla chips.


Macros for 30 g are rounded to 10 C, or 39 calories. 
Macros for 30 g prepared with a sugar substitute are rounded to 3C, or 10 calories.