Gluten-Free Cranberry Apple Crisp With Athleta
There's nothing quite like the feeling of walking into my Grandmother's farmhouse, to the smells and sounds of a Thanksgiving meal being prepared. The scent of cinnamon and clove hanging in the air, so thick I can practically taste it as I hug my way past aunts, uncles, and cousins into the jam-packed kitchen, where I'm immediately greeted with a few orders. It's this familiar and comforting bustle that signals the beginning of the holiday season for me. And I welcome it with open arms, and an empty stomach.
Being that I'm a wellness coach, I always contribute a "healthier" dish to the Thanksgiving meal, and this year I was elected to bring a dessert. One of my all-time favorite desserts is my mother's apple pie. I find the combination of sweet, crispy apples and the spice of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove to be wonderfully decadent. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, top it off with a drizzle of homemade caramel, and I'm practically in dessert heaven. So when Athleta reached out to collaborate on a Thanksgiving Day recipe, I decided to create a slightly simpler and healthier version of my favorite in this Gluten-Free Cranberry Apple Crisp.
Whenever I substitute ingredients, I do my best to ensure the end result will have a higher nutritional value, while still tasting just as good as the original version. Let me tell you, this dessert does not disappoint! I love the flavors and consistency in this crisp, and I definitely didn’t mind how incredible it made my home smell while it was baking either!
Did you know that about half of an apple's vitamin C content is just under the skin, along with the majority of the fiber? So for this crisp, I chose to leave the peels on. If possible, buy apples organic and/or local. If you're not able to do so, make sure you wash the apples well by scrubbing their peel with your hands or a cloth. They're part of the dirty dozen, so this helps prevent unwanted pesticides seeping their way into our delicious desserts.
While I don't have a gluten allergy, I have several friends who prefer to avoid it. Therefore, I find it really helpful to have a few gluten-free recipes up my sleeve for parties and gatherings. For this recipe, I subbed in gluten-free all purpose flour. I also added quinoa, a gluten-free whole grain, that is considered a complete protein, as it contains all 9 essential amino acids.
Collectively, this dessert contains:
- Fiber: which supports a healthy digestive system (apples, cranberries, quinoa).
- B Vitamins: play a major role in energy production & metabolism (quinoa).
- Vitamin C: strengthens and supports our immune system (apples, cranberries).
- Vitamin E: an antioxidant that helps prevent or delay diseases and aging (cranberries, quinoa)
- Vitamin K: This is well known for helping our blood coagulate properly, and is also important for bone health (cranberries).
- Calcium: Supports bone strength, as well as the proper function of our muscles and nerves (quinoa).
- Manganese: important for nutrient absorption and normal brain and nerve function (cranberries).
- Magnesium: This is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including nerve and muscle function, a healthy immune system, and regulating heartbeat and blood glucose levels (quinoa).
- Iron: This is essential for blood production, and helps your body properly transfer oxygen in your blood from your lungs to your tissues (quinoa).
- Potassium: an electrolyte that plays a major role in heart and muscle function. It has also been found to help prevent high blood pressure (apples, quinoa).
- Antioxidants: reduces inflammation and helps prevent or delay diseases (apples, cranberries).
FOR THE FILLING
- 6 apples
- 1 cup cranberries (if you like more tart flavors, add 1/2 cup more)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp clove
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp gluten-free all purpose flour
FOR THE CRUST
- 1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ⅔ cup cooked quinoa
- ½ cup pecans
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp ginger
- 6 tbsp butter (cubed)
FOR THE CARAMEL (optional, but delicious)
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract
- Pinch of sea salt
First, place 1 cup of water and 1 cup of quinoa in a small pan on the stove, on high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes (or until quinoa is cooked). Stir occasionally.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Core and chop the apples into even pieces. Add all ingredients for the filling to a large bowl and stir until the apples and cranberries are well coated. Grease a large cast iron skillet or baking pan with butter or non-stick baking spray, and add mixture.
Place all dry ingredients for the crust into a food processor. Pulse until ingredients are very finely chopped. Then, add the butter a little at a time, and pulse until mixed well. It will most likely clump up, which is normal. Spread the crust evenly on top of the filling, breaking up large chunks if necessary.
Bake for 30 minutes.
While the crisp is baking, make the caramel. Get all ingredients measured out and ready. In a small sauce pan, melt the sugar over medium heat, stirring as needed so that it cooks evenly. It will clump up first, and then should melt into a liquid. Once it’s in liquid form, remove from heat and add the butter. It will sizzle and bubble as it melts. Once the butter and sugar have melted together, add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Still until combined. Allow the caramel to cool slightly before drizzling it on top of the crisp.
Serve with a scoop of vanilla or caramel ice cream. My favorites are Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy non-dairy Frozen Dessert in Vanilla (this is the best vegan ice cream I’ve ever eaten in my life!), or Talenti Gelato in Tahitian Vanilla Bean.
This is a dessert after all. So be sure to savor every bite, in moderation. Remember, food is neutral, and does not determine your worth! Eat consciously, enjoy the experience, and leave behind the guilt!
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of love and joy!