When I think of the holidays and my favorite food to eat around this time of year, my mind goes straight to dessert. From cookies, to cakes, brownies, to trifles, and everything in between. But, in my mind, the dessert that really represents the holidays is always pie, specifically apple.
Growing up, my Grandmother (we called her Baka) was in charge of the holidays. She hosted, she cooked, she took care of everyone. To give you some background, I was raised in a traditional Croatian household so you can imagine that most of our food was also Croatian, especially dessert. Every year, my grandmother made plenty of Croatian desserts, but pie was not something she enjoyed making. However, she was absolutely determined to have something “traditional” for all of us. To her, this meant having an apple pie on the dessert table.
I’ll never forget the first year she bought one. She had put it in the garage to stay cold and because there was no room for it elsewhere. It was the morning of Thanksgiving and I was at her house helping her prepare for everyone’s arrival. I recall her asking me to go and get it from the garage, but she did not refer to it as an apple pie, she instead referred to it as “pine appel”. Now, I was 10 years old at the time, and knowing my foreign grandmother and typically being able to understand her adorable broken English accent, I truly thought she was referring to a pineapple. (You know, the yellow inside, rough on the outside Hawaiian fruit). So, I went and fetched for it in the garage even though it made no sense that we’d have a pineapple for a holiday, but none the less, I never questioned Baka. I came back inside empty handed and said to her “there was no pineapple in the garage, Baka!” She then replied to me in her accent and with some inflection of frustration in her voice “no no sweeteeiee”, “pineee appelll!” she tried to enunciate. Still not understanding what she was referring to, she became slightly more frustrated with me and went to the garage and grabbed it herself. And what does she have in her hands? AN APPLE PIE! I just started laughing at how sweet the whole misunderstanding of the situation. I didn’t misunderstand her often, but when I did, I’ve always remembered it vividly and we would always both learn from it. (Those are some of my favorite memories of her, trying to teach her English...don’t get me started about how I had to teach her how to say the word “rewind”.) Nevertheless, she couldn’t say apple pie, but only “pine appel”. Fast forward to today, Baka has now passed away, I am 25 years old and I still refer to apple pie as a pine appel. I think of her every time an apple pie is around and it’s such a special memory for me.
I have however taken it upon myself to make a healthier version of the classic apple pie she always had for us. I’ve turned “pine appel” into a simple apple crisp with minimal ingredients. It’s delicious and still reminds me of my precious Baka. I hope you enjoyed my story and I hope you enjoy this simple healthy version of my “pine appel” crisp!
- 10-12 medium apples
- Washed, cored, and sliced thinly | You can also chop them into cubes, whatever you prefer, peel if desired, I prefer the skin on.
- I use combination of granny smith and honey crisps, but any apple variety will work.
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar (sifted)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. white whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar (sifted)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
- Preheat your oven to 350°.
- Spray a 9×11 baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Mix together prepared apples in a bowl with lemon juice, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and flour.
- Pour them into your greased baking dish.
- In a clean bowl and using a sieve, add your flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Once you have sifted those through, add your oats and chopped pecans. Lastly, add your melted coconut oil to create the crumble.
- Sprinkle the crumble evenly on top of your apple filling.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are bubbling.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes..
Optional - Top with your favorite regular or dairy free ice cream, whipped cream, or caramel sauce, then serve!
This recipe is not going to look the most aesthetically pleasing when served as it is very, very crumbly. I can promise you though it will taste like you are eating traditional apple crumble and no one will know it’s a healthier version of it!