Winter gives us so many reasons to be angry with it.
Thankfully, a lack of berries is no longer one of them. While I find it hard to justify spending $10 on a measly 125g punnet of fresh blueberries every second day during the cooler months, I can justify spending $10 on a 500g bag of organic fresh-frozen ones once a week. Obviously, nothing beats the juicy burst of fresh berries, but when they’re out of season and either ridiculously pricey or unavailable altogether, frozen berries are a boundlessly nutritious and versatile alternative. I eat frozen berries almost every day of the year, whether they’re thrown into breakfast smoothies, used to make acai bowls, stewed and stirred through my porridge or scoffed straight from the pack. I’ve also discovered that, more often than not, they’re actually better to bake with than their fresh counterparts. For whatever reason, frozen berries always seem to turn out so much more flavoursome than freshies when cooked. Plus, research has shown that, especially when organic, fresh-frozen produce is actually more nutritious than fresh produce, because of the nutrients lost during the handling and transportation of fresh produce after cultivation. Interesting…
Being the shamefully sickly sweet tooth that am, I’ve always had a weakness for crumbles – I just can’t go past the warm, fruity fillings and that buttery melt-in-your-mouth biscuit topping. Heartbreakingly, like all dessert fare, crumbles are typically packed with saturated fat, processed simple carbohydrates and hideous amounts of sweet poison (also known as sugar). So, the other night when I was feeling very countryside-inspired and craving a traditionally Wintery sweet-something to share with my family after dinner, I decided to conduct a Blueberry Crumble Healthification experiment. Full of antioxidants, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and pure deliciousness, I don’t know why I’ve never tried to healthify blueberry crumble before – it was as easy and fuss-free as it was delightful. The fact that I’ve been avoiding crumble on the basis that it’s mid-section suicide now seems ludicrous. I need to practice what I preach more often: there’s always a way to healthify the unhealthy. In this I find wicked pleasure.
My blueberry crumble is not limited to post-dinner indulgence; it’d be great as a mid-arvo pick-me-up, or even for breakfast on a lazy Sunday. I served mine with a generous drizzle of coconut cream, which cuts through any tartness in the blueberries and ties the juices and the crisp crumble together perfectly.
Lightened-Up Blueberry Crumble
- 500g packet frozen blueberries (organic if possible), completely thawed, but not mushy (they should still be firm). I leave mine to thaw at room temperature for a few hours before using.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbs unsweetened shredded coconut (I use Loving Earth brand)
- 1 tbs coconut flour (or LSA/any other flour you prefer)
- 2-3 tbs coconut oil, melted
- 1 tbs rice malt syrup/pure maple syrup (or agave nectar/honey if you’re not sensitive to it)
- zest of 1/2 orange
- 1/2 – 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup flaked almonds
- dash of salt
- powdered pure stevia (or other low-cal natural sweetener), to taste
- Pure coconut cream (or coconut yoghurt), to serve.
- Preheat oven to 190*C. Place thawed blueberries in a large bowl. Add orange zest and sprinkle with a little stevia. Combine carefully with hands, ensuring that the Stevia and zest are distributed evenly. Taste the blueberries, and add more Stevia if you wish. They shouldn’t be overly sweet – the purpose of the stevia is to enahnce the natural sweetness and flavour of the berries, not overpower it.
- Divide berry mixture evenly between individual ramekins, or one larger ceramic/glass dish.
- Rinse the bowl out and combine the oats, shredded coconut, flour, cinnamon and salt.
- Add the coconut oil and rice bran syrup (tip: using the measuring spoon for the oil before the syrup will prevent the syrup from sticking to the spoon, and allow the full tbs to go into the mixture!). Rub together with fingers, massaging the oil and syrup evenly through the oat mixture. It should be a rough, crumbly consistency. Taste and add small amounts of Stevia at a time until you reach a desired sweetness, combining completely between each addition. Remember: because of pure Stevia’s high concentration, there’s a very fine line between producing something that’s heavenly sweet and something that tastes like metal. Please be careful when using sweeteners – a little, and I mean a little, goes a verrrry long way.
- Sprinkle crumble over the blueberries, then top with flaked almonds. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes, or until the blueberries are bubbling and the topping is golden and crispy, as pictured. If the ‘crumble’ top has browned but the berries are not yet bubbling, place come aluminium foil over the top, to prevent the topping from burning as the berries continue to cook.
- Remove from the oven, drizzle with coconut cream and serve immediately. I suspect it would be lovely served with coconut yoghurt, too! Enjoy.