Healthy Dessert Experiment: Flourless Fruit Crumble

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Crumbles are one of my favourite desserts. A great example of how a little goes a long way: fruit + a few other ingredients, put together in a way that transforms everything into a warm happy mess šŸ˜€ And I’ve realized they can be realĀ crowd pleasers, too. I thinkĀ the humble crumble- and herĀ many cousins- are uncomplicated, forgiving desserts that won’t let you down.

Yeah. I really feel for crumble. Is it strange to have feelings for a dessert?

Hmmm…I’ve come this far, so I might as well take the liberty to ramble a little longer.Ā HereĀ are 5 more reasons why I think you absolutely must involve crumbles in your dessert routine.

  • Crispy on top + juicy and melting beneath.
  • No fancy baking equipment required. No whisking. No whipping. You donā€™t even need a fork!
  • You can serve them individually.
  • It takes less time to assemble than a pie or a cake.
  • You can make them with any kind of fruit! (Ok, perhaps not with watermelon. Weā€™d best leave those for juices, smoothies or as they are. But has anyone had a watermelon crumble? Let me know.)

This *healthy* crumble came about as a way to use up leftover almond meal and Granny Smith apples. I usually make my crumble topping with some butter, sugar, flour and oats, but I thought Hey! Almond meal. Why not? And if you have a guest, friend or anybody who eats gluten-free, then this crumble is the way to go. (I pulse my own almond meal with the skin on, FYI.)

The flourless stone fruit crumble from It's All Good image courtesy  | www.self.com

Flourless stone fruit crumble from It’s All Good
image courtesy | http://www.self.com

The inspiration for this recipe comes from the Flourless Anything Crumble recipe from Itā€™s All Good. In it, Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen came up with a vegan, sugar-free and gluten-free crumble recipe, for any kind of stone fruit. I didnā€™t go the vegan or sugar-free route, just opted for the use of almond meal instead of flour. You could easily stick to the healthier option as outlined in the book: leave out the butter, swap the oats for quinoa flakes, and sub the granulated sugar for a combination of maple syrup + brown rice syrup. (Quinoa flakes and brown rice syrup are things I will probably not buy. Like ever. So I just converted the healthy recipe into a with-sugar, with-dairy version.)

 

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FLOURLESS APPLE CRUMBLE (Adapted from Itā€™s All Good.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups Granny Smith Apples, cored and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar+ 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Ā½ tablespoon lemon or lime juice
  • Ā½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • Ā½ cup almond meal
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold butter

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to 200 C
  • In a bowl, toss the chopped apples with the lemon/lime juice, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon powder and set aside.
  • In another bowl, mix the almond meal and 4 tablespoons granulated sugar until well combined.
  • Work the cold butter into the almond meal mixture with your fingers until itā€™s rubble-y and like wet sand.
  • Divide the chopped apples between individual ramekins.
  • Crumble the mixture over the fruit and bake until the top is browned, about 15-20 minutes. (Do check on your crumbles, since oven temperatures vary- I took mine out at 15, other ovens may need more or less time.)

 

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Gwyneth Paltrow’s Beet Salad With Mint + Scallion Pesto

Since I have posted wayyy to many sweet treats, I thought I’d take a break from it andĀ serve up something lighter. Both in tone, taste and preparation. This one’s from- hold your breath- Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen’s cookbook It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great.

This cookbook has been quite polarizing on the interwebs, much like Gwyneth herself. (I’ll admit I am not a big fan of her personality, her crusade as a lifestyle guru or her consciousness spiel, but I do like visiting her website Goop.com to browse through recipes- they have some good ones!)

Now the inside flap of the book starts off talking about Gwyneth’s “clear eyes, glowing skin and fit body…,” none of which I care for. I’m quite happy with my eyes (they are neither bloodshot nor cloudy,) and my skin is pretty ok for someone who does not apply much of anything to it, and as for my body, it’sĀ definitely not Tracy Anderson Method-approved,Ā butĀ I manage to get some exercise each day and I am at peace with it. (I’m not walking any red-carpets, so I don’t feel the need to get my body “red-carpet ready!!!”)

Oh yes, back to the book.

image courtesy | eater.com

image courtesy | eater.com

Now, there are some paragraphs that are pretentious, along with some cringe-worthy pictures that don’t really make sense. Like, for instance, GP riding a Vespa, and another one where she is sideward-glancing while wrapped in a blanket. And of course, there is name-dropping: recipes from her ‘besties’ Cameron Diaz and Gavin Rossdale…but she’s a celebrity, and celebrities befriend celebrities, so it is but natural that they swap recipes, no? So yes, there are few portions you’d want to skim over, but once you do, you’ll realize thatĀ there are some pretty neat recipes beneath it all.

image courtesy | eater.com

image courtesy | eater.com

The book is based on GP’s elimination diet and many, many everyday products are avoided, like dairy, gluten, sugar, coffee. (I don’t have any issues with dairy or gluten, so IĀ used whole wheat pasta where brown rice pasta is called for, and cow’s milk where a recipe called for almond/rice milk.Ā The flavours are great, and since I’m not planning to get on a diet, I tweaked away.)Ā 

Having said that, the salad, vegetable and grains sections haveĀ plenty of wonderful recipes that can be recreated with ingredients that are easily available in India- and many are naturally vegan and gluten-free. Sweet potatoes, corn, eggplant, beets, leeks, carrots, mushrooms, daikon radish (regular desi mooli.) Most of these vegetables can be found in markets in India. There are of course, someĀ veggies and grains (romesco, kale, quinoa) that I don’t have easy access to, but even without those recipes, there is enough variety to choose from.

This beet salad is one of them. Easy, delicious and can be made ahead and assembled before lunch/dinnertime.

Scallion mint pesto from It's All Good

Scallion mint pesto from It’s All Good

The mint+scallion pesto is a keeper- I used it on toast, tossed in pasta, in omelettes, as a topping for crackers- versatile, like pesto should be. The raw garlic gives it a pungent, almost spicy punch, and the toasted almonds add great depth. And nibble!!

 

Drizzle the pesto over the beets, or just gob them on like I did.

Drizzle the pesto over the beets, or just gob it on with a spoon like I did.

BEET SALAD WITH Ā MINT +SCALLION PESTO (From It’s All Good)

The Beets

500 grams steamed or roasted beetroot, skins removed and cubed/sliced into discs

The Pesto

  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • A dozen scallions (spring onions) white and light green parts only,Ā chopped
  • 1/3 cup mint leaves (pudina)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (the book calls for extra-virgin, I used regular)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used desiĀ nimbus)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (the cookbook calls for coarse sea salt, which I had, but I thinkĀ table salt would be just fine

Puree all the ingredients in a powerful blender until smooth.

 

To assemble, arrange the beets on a plate and pour/drizzle/dab the pesto all over it.

Yes, that’s all it takes šŸ˜€