Updated: Oct 8, 2021
Autumn is my favorite time of year and going to a local apple orchard to pick apples is a yearly tradition for us. There's something about enjoying the hot apple cider with a fresh donut in the crisp fall air in Michigan that we look forward to and marks the beginning of the holiday season.
Since we have been making more of an effort to incorporate plants into our diet, I try to include nuts, seeds, or a whole grain into recipes when I can. Nuts like pecans, walnuts, and almonds don't have super strong flavors and can easily be tossed into many dishes without overpowering it. Not only do the nuts provide high fiber, but immune system supporting zinc and vitamin E. Nuts help to keep you healthy and prevent disease because they have both anti-inflammatory properties along with powerful antioxidants. We're learning more about these important components of nuts and how they are an essential part of a plant-based diet. I generally recommend them to clients because they are easy to transport, don't need to be refrigerated, and are satiating to keep hunger under control.
I'm not a huge fan of cooked fruit most of the time but the one that I like on occasion is apples cooked into recipes. Whether it's my daughter's famous apple pie or a healthier version of apple crisp like this recipe, I do enjoy the warmth and flavor of apple dishes. Because of the oats, and nuts that are included, it wouldn't be a bad way to start the day for breakfast or, end a meal with a small warm serving of the apple crisp with a dab of vanilla ice cream.
If you enjoy picking apples and using them later, they can be frozen but there are a few things to keep in mind. Freezing apples for use in cooking or baked goods is an easy way to cut back on food waste and will keep those cobblers, pies, and crisps coming all year long.
Sweeter apples such as Fujis or Galas are more likely to hold their flavor than tart varieties, but just about all apples can be frozen for six to nine months. However, freezing an apple does alter the texture, leaving the flesh spongier than that of a fresh apple. This is fine if you're going to cook them for a recipe but if you are wanting the crispiness of a fresh apple straight from the orchard, don't expect the same result after they're frozen.
I used vanilla in this recipe and the kind of vanilla that I buy is important because it makes such a difference in the taste of all my baked recipes that include this ingredient. I buy it on Amazon and it's slightly more pricey than other brands but this large bottle lasts me a very long time.
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter cut into small cubes
6 medium Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
1/3 cup pure honey
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Making the topping: Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pecans (or walnuts) in a large bowl until well-combined. Add the butter, using your hands to combine until the mixture becomes crumbly.
Once you are finished, refrigerate the topping and begin making the apple filling.
Making the filling: Place apples, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla in a large bowl and combine. Let the filling sit for 5-10 minutes.
Take 1/3 cup of the topping and combine with the apple mixture. Place the apple mixture in the prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with the remaining topping.
Bake the crisp for 50-55 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes on wire rack. Serve warm by itself or with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. This dish makes between 9 and 10 servings.