Enjoy your comfort food the healthy way! This gluten free apple pear crumble is a low fat and low sugar dessert that features the best of fall’s fruits for a comforting, warm, sweet, and buttery-tasting treat. It’s ready in under one hour and is perfect for a cool autumn day.
When the temperatures cool down and the leaves change to brilliant shades of red and orange, I inevitably get a case of wanderlust.
It’s a very particular genus of wanderlust: I want to wander, explore new places and see new sights, with Ryan by my side (while, most likely, puggle-wrangling), but then to return to the comforts of home at the end of the day, weekend, or week. I simultaneously am a homebody and a explorer, if such dichotomy is possible in one person.
This is why Ryan and I hike so much: to get outside, wander, explore, and experience. Whenever the colors change, we prone to this: back when he lived in Grosse Pointe, we used to drive aimlessly through the Michigan countryside on autumn weekends, simply enjoying the views. When I lived in Dayton, we’d randomly head to Cincinnati or Louisville for a day, just to explore somewhere new. It’s never an urge to get away and leave behind (admittedly, sometimes when we drove off from Detroit it was), but rather a desire to expand our horizons and make the most of life.
We drove by one of the trailheads for the Pacific Crest Trail last weekend on our way to Snow Lake, and I instantly added that to my list for 2016 goals: to hike a portion of the Pacific Crest trail. Not a full-blown Wild hike (the desert portions of the PCT terrify me); Ryan and I are thinking two days out, two days back to start. Travel is, after all, why we are taking the initiative to start our own small businesses: so that we can work from wherever we desire, be it the lochs of Scotland, the mountains of Washington and Oregon, or visiting family back in the Midwest.
What does all this wanderlust and travel talk have to do with this gluten free apple pear crumble?
I earnestly savor the give and take, the yin and yang if you will, of traveling out and returning home. Few things are as gratifying as spending the day hiking and exploring, only to return home, change into comfy clothes, and cuddle up on the sofa while enjoying some (usually healthified, but not always) comfort food.
You know what I mean by comfort food: those warm and filling meals that feed both the body and soul. It varies culturally: in the American South, comfort food is often fried chicken (I’m not from the south so don’t judge if I am wrong); in Germany, comfort food is warm spaetzle. No matter where you live, though, as the temperatures drop, our bodies and our minds crave warmer foods.
Homemade pizza (such as this autumn harvest pizza) is one of our favorite post-hiking comfort foods, usually accompanied by frothy glasses of craft beer. Roasted chicken and vegetables is another example of a comfort meal in the Norris household, as is a warm and hearty bowl of oatmeal.
This gluten free apple pear crumble meets all the criteria of comfort food for me: warm, satisfying, healthy, and soft. Yes, soft—the ultimate comfort food texture! Think of how comforting roasted potatoes are over crunchy vegetables or why peanut butter has far more comfort food powers than whole peanuts. The apples and pears are baked until they reach that tender perfection, while the almond meal and oat flour crumble provides a slight crunch to add a bit of variety to the texture of the dish.
Unlike traditional apple crisp recipes, which often are heavy-handed in butter and sugar, this gluten apple pear crumble lets the natural sweetness of the apples and the buttery flavor of the almond meal shine through. A bit of organic cane sugar and pure maple syrup add a touch of sweetness.
One of the baking secrets my mom taught me growing up, as she made the best apple pie every Thanksgiving, is to use multiple varieties of apples to achieve the right balance of sweet and tart. I used Granny Smith (tart) and Fuji (sweet); to create an even more complex flavor, I added in an Anjou pear.
One final note on this recipe: I left the skins on my apples and pears when making this. I prefer the texture with the skins on, and most of the fiber and nutrients are found in the skins.
- 2 Granny Smith apples
- 2 Fuji apples
- 1 red Anjou pear
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons almond meal
- 1/2 cup oat flour (ground from heaping 1/2 rolled oats)
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/3 cup organic cane sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the seeds and cores and chop the apples and pear into small bite-size pieces.
- In a large bowl, combine the apples, pear, and remaining filling toppings. Gently toss to combine. Place in an even layer in a 9 x 9 baking pan.
- In the bowl of the food processor, grind the oats into oat flour if needed. Add the almond meal, sugar, cinnamon, and ginger to the bowl and pulse to combine. Cut the butter into small cubes and pulse into the topping mixture, until fine crumbs form.
- Evenly sprinkle the crumble mixture on top of the apple-pear mixture.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until set and golden brown on top. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
- The specific varieties of apples and pears are only suggestions based on what I used - you can experiment with different varieties!
Questions of the Day:
What are your favorite fall fruits?
Crisp, crumble, or pie?
Where are some places to which you wish to travel?