A holiday meal can’t possibly be complete without dessert. Unfortunately, most holiday desserts are extremely high in calories and fat while being low in nutritional value. This means that for those trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, or those just trying to get through the holidays without going up a few pant sizes, dessert is likely the first menu item sacrificed. Although ditching dessert is a very common approach to holiday maintenance, does it actually get you closer to your goals? The short answer is no.
So many have wasted years of their lives sacrificing desserts when it honestly doesn’t have to be that way. I myself was a victim of this mentality for several years. I would make sweets for family and friends but refuse to touch them myself, thinking it would improve my health and physique when all it did was cause me to binge on other “legal” foods. Over time I learned that cutting out entire food groups I love, like dessert, was not the answer. The real answer is moderation. Heavy restrictions, no matter how beneficial, will have a negative impact on the psyche long-term. Since overall health is both physical and mental, it’s important to find balance. Find a way to live healthier, but also enjoy all the things you love.
This kind of balance may sound difficult, and sure it is no walk in the park, but I assure you it can be done. You can still enjoy delicious desserts, not only at the holidays but year round, while being kind to your body. What makes all the difference between a complete meal and dessert being M.I.A. is the quality of your ingredients and the size of your portions. That’s about it. With enough effort, you can literally take any food and make it more nutritious in order to fit a healthy lifestyle. Thankfully for all of you, I’ve already done the hard part so all you have to do is follow along, bake, and enjoy.
For today’s recipe makeover, I present to you a delicious apple pecan crumble. Apple desserts have always been a favorite of mine since childhood so I needed to find a way to clean them up to continue enjoying them. First, I make sure to start with all organic, non-gmo verified ingredients. The next step is to start breaking down the main components of a traditional apple crumble recipe and finding healthier alternatives to swap in. I elected to begin with the crumb topping, as most traditional recipes have way too much butter and use refined flour and sugar. To be healthier, I went with the bare minimum amount of butter I could get away with (a mere 2 tbsp.) and then exchanged white whole-wheat flour, rolled oats, and raw cane sugar for the refined flour and sugar. Be sure to use a food processor when making the crumb topping in order to properly distribute the butter with the flour, otherwise your topping will be too dry. Lastly, I kept the filling simple, using just thinly sliced apples and fresh lemon juice. No added sugar or spices needed. Once the crumble has been cooked and cooled slightly, you can serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, although this is totally optional. I made this elegant apple pecan crumble for Thanksgiving, but if you want a classic, healthier finish to any holiday meal, this made over recipe is sure to impress!
- ½ cup White Whole-Wheat Flour
- 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; cut into smaller pieces
- ½ cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
- 2 tbsp. chopped Unsalted Pecans
- 1/3 cup Raw Cane Sugar
- ¼ tsp. Sea Salt
- 2½ pounds Apples (sweet-tart variety); peeled, cored, & thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. Raw Cane Sugar
- 1 tbsp. fresh Lemon Juice
- Preheat oven to 375°. Mist a 13 x 9 inch baking dish or 10 (½ cup size) ramekins with nonstick cooking spray. If using ramekins to make individual portions, place ramekins on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
- CRUMBLE TOPPING: To the bowl of a food processor, add the flour and butter. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in oats, pecans, 1/3 cup cane sugar, and salt. Set aside.
- FILLING: In a large bowl, combine apples, 2 tbsp. cane sugar, and lemon juice. Transfer fruit to prepared baking dish. If using ramekins, divide evenly.
- Sprinkle crumble topping over apple filling and bake for 1 hour, or until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with whipped cream if desired.
NutritionPer Serving (3.4 oz./1 ramekin): 154 Calories; 2 g Protein; 3 g Total Fat; 1 g Sat. Fat; 5 g Fiber; 35 mg Sodium; 20 g Sugar; 30 g Carbs; 6 mg Cholesterol.
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: J.S. HOUGH
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS
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