I can’t deny it anymore. Fall is here.
For some reason I missed out on the opportunity to go apple picking these past couple years. But this year, this seasonal activity was a prerequisite for me accepting the fact that Fall was well settled in. I needed a good excuse to finally move on and embrace the new season. And quite honestly, there’s nothing like apple picking to make you fall in love with autumn’s beauty and (almost) forget about summer.
So we went apple picking last weekend, on a lovely certified organic orchard just north of Toronto. They have 10 000 trees, and two of their apple varieties were ready for picking: Liberty and Freedom. Seriously. Cutest apple names ever. I was conquered from the start. Three full bags and 35 lbs of apples later (!!!), we were leaving with a light heart, a big smile, and a million apple recipe ideas flowing through my head.
I have to be honest, I’ve never been a fan of apples in desserts. There might be something about the texture. Or maybe is it the taste? I’m not sure. But you’ll never see me order an apple pie in a restaurant or an apple muffin in a coffee shop.
So I must admit that making an apple crumble was way out of my comfort zone. But it’s been cold and rainy these past couple days and this weather kept screaming for a warming, comforting apple crumble.
Because I always find that apple desserts are a little too sweet for my taste, I decided to include some cranberries in the filling. The result is exactly what I was hoping for. The natural sweetness of the apples, paired with the tartness of the cranberries, plus just enough cinnamon, vanilla and maple syrup and you get a perfectly balanced crumble. It’s made with wholesome ingredients, no refined sugar, and no butter. I also added some quinoa to switch things up a little and give it a nice crunch. This crumble is perfect for dessert, perhaps with a scoop of ice cream. But it’s healthy enough to be enjoyed for breakfast. I suspect it would be delicious with a scoop of a good-quality plain yogourt.
An apple a day…
We’re all familiar with the old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Well guess what? It turns out it actually appears to be true. In numerous studies, consumption of apples has consistently been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and asthma. Their unusual content in polyphenols contribute to their amazing health benefits. These special compounds act as antioxidants to prevent and fight diseases, and have also been shown to prevent spikes in blood sugar.
Apples are great for improving digestion and relieving constipation and diarrhea, due to their content in both insoluble and soluble fiber. In addition to its benefits on digestion, the pectin content in apples has the capacity to lower cholesterol levels due to its gel-forming action.
The skin of the apple is where most of its nutrients are stored, so even if a recipe calls for peeled apples, I’d highly recommend leaving the skins on to get the maximum nutrition. And because apples are among the top fruits and vegetables containing pesticide residues, it’s one of the foods that I highly recommend you buy organic. Of course, if you go apple picking this year, please choose a certified organic orchard.
Notes one the recipe: If you don’t have cranberries, apples on their own would be delicious here, but I do think that the tartness of the cranberries brings a really interesting contrast to the flavours and an overall balance to the dish. The quinoa brings a nice crunchy texture, but if you’re looking for a more traditional crumble, you could replace it by more oats.
Apple & Cranberry Quinoa Crumble
- 4 medium apples cored and diced (4 cups)
- 1 cup cranberries fresh or frozen
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp brown rice flour or any other whole grain flour: spelt, kamut, buckwheat, etc.
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch sea salt
- 1 1/2 cup rolled oats certified gluten-free, if desired
- 1 cup quinoa well rinsed
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup coconut oil melted
Preheat the oven to 375F.
In a medium bowl, toss together the ingredients for the filling. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, toss together the oats, quinoa, coconut sugar and cinnamon. Then add in the melted coconut oil and mix to combine.
Assemble and bake:
Layer the fruit and the crisp mixture in a baking dish. Start with a layer of the fruit mixture, then add a layer of the crisp mixture, then another layer of fruit, and finish with a layer of crisp. Sprinkle with more coconut sugar, if desired.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the topping is golden and crunchy. Let cool slightly before serving.
May the space between where I am and where I want to be inspire me.