How To Make Low-Sugar Apple Crisps

I love apple pie… especially around the holidays.

For me, it’s not truly Thanksgiving until I’ve had a slice, and experienced that toasty, cinnamon-apple flavor.

But between the heavy crust and the sugar-bomb filling, apple pie packs some serious calories.

And all those carbs can really weigh you down… particularly right after turkey, stuffing, and sides!

So I decided to create a healthy variation on the classic pie recipe – but this time, it’s an apple “crisp” without the sugary bottom crust.

The filling is sweet and flavorful (but low in sugar), and the crisp, nutty topping is rich in protein. Oh, and it’s also gluten free.

If you don’t have the oven space to fit another casserole dish, don’t worry – I’ve included slow-cooker instructions for the crisp, as well.

It takes a little longer to cook, but it frees up oven space – and your whole house will smell heavenly by the time it’s done.

Low-Sugar Apple Crisp

Ingredients (Serves 6-8):

For the Filling

  • 10 ripe, medium-sized apples (I prefer a mix of Granny Smith and Fuji), peeled and sliced thin
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour or tapioca flour

For the Topping

  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup pecans, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ cup butter, melted

Apple crisps | Probiotic America

Instructions – Oven:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside.
2. Prepare the topping: Combine the almond flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, pecans, and oats. Drizzle with maple syrup and melted butter, and stir until combined – the mixture should be almost a wet sand consistency. If too wet, add a little more coconut flour; if too dry, add a little more butter.
3. Prepare filling: Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl, tossing to make sure they’re thoroughly mixed.
4. Empty filling into the baking dish – it’s okay if it piles over the top a little, it’ll cook down.
5. Sprinkle the topping over the top of the filling and place the baking dish on a sheet tray, to catch any drips while cooking.
6. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until top is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Serve warm, with unsweetened whipped cream.

Instructions – Slow Cooker:

1. Prepare slow cooker: If using a liner, place in the slow cooker work bowl. If not, butter the inside of work bowl for easier cleanup.
2. Prepare the topping: Combine the almond flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, pecans, and oats. Drizzle with maple syrup and melted butter, and stir until combined. The mixture should be almost a wet sand consistency. If too wet, add a little more coconut flour; if too dry, add a little more butter.
3. Prepare filling: Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl, tossing to make sure they’re thoroughly mixed. Transfer to work bowl of the crock pot.
4. Sprinkle the topping over apple mixture, right in the crock pot.
5. Stretch a paper towel across the top of the crock pot work bowl, securing it with the lid (this ensures a crispy topping.)
6. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until filling is bubbling and thickened, then keep warm until serving. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream.

So there you go – try it out, and let me know what you think.

After the crisp, I’m pretty sure you won’t miss traditional-style pie at all… in fact, you may have a new favorite dessert!

Cheers!

Dr. Cary Nelson 

For more health tips and delicious recipes, keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics

Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame

Quick and Healthy On The Go Veggie Bowl Recipe

If you’re trying to slim down, lunch can be downright dangerous.

When you’re busy all the time, sometimes it’s easiest to just grab a drive-thru burger…

Or even skip lunch entirely, and snack on muffins and granola bars all afternoon.

Ugh.

Both of those are terrible options, but… we’ve all been there.

Here’s the good news, though: lunch doesn’t have to be a diet destroyer.

Your midday meal can be a chance to eat very well –

All it takes is a little planning, and a killer recipe like my On-the-go roast veggie protein bowl.

This bowl is packed with fiber, healthy fats, and lean protein – enough to keep you feeling full all the way to dinnertime.

Here’s how to make it:

Roast veggie protein bowl

Ingredients (makes 5 meals)*:

  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 2 red bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2.5 cups cooked quinoa

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. In a large bowl, combine all the vegetables with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Add chicken breasts to the mix and toss until well coated with oil and seasoning.
3. Spread mixture on a sheet tray. Roast about 10 minutes before turning vegetables and chicken.
4. Continue to roast until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 and vegetables are tender, about 10-15 more minutes.
5. Divide cooked quinoa into 5 to-go containers, then top with vegetables and chicken.
6. Add one of the sauces in the “variations” section to each dish, and refrigerate until needed. Serve warm or cold.

Variations:

Since we kept this recipe pretty basic, it’s the perfect blank canvas for a flavorful Ranch sauce. Just add a couple of tablespoons (about ¼ cup), and store what’s left in the fridge!

Here’s how to make it:

Veggie bowl recipe | Probiotic America

Healthy Ranch:

This one’s super-easy to make. SImply combine the ingredients below in a mixing bowl:

  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon dried dill
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt.

And if you like a thinner ranch, just add a little skim milk. Oh, and remember to add the dressing to your veggie protein bowl after heating.

So there you go – a healthy and delicious lunchtime meal.

Lately, I’ll make the veggie bowl on Sunday, then divide it up for the rest of the week. With some small tweaks to the seasoning, it tastes fresh every time.

Try it out, and let me know what you think!

Cheers!

Dr. Cary Nelson 

For more health tips and delicious recipes, keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics

Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame

Warning: When fruit is dangerous (+ a green smoothie recipe)

Fruit can be a problem. It wilts in the refrigerator. It can go bad within a few days of buying it. And sometimes it’s just plain inconvenient to eat!

BUT… all that being said, fruit is an absolutely crucial part of a healthy diet.

And you should always make sure you’re getting about 4-5 servings of fresh fruit in your diet each day.

Fruit contains essential nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, and folic acid… plus it’s naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories.

And get this: A major study of more than 12,000 adults even shows a link between eating fruits and vegetables… and increased feelings of happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being!1

So healthwise, there isn’t much of a “downside” to fruit. But, like I mentioned, it’s not always the most convenient food to eat.

So it’s no wonder many people find it easier to drink their daily servings, either as juice, or in smoothie form.

And that’s totally fine…

But fruit smoothies and fruit juices are NOT created equal… And I strongly suggest you always choose smoothies.

Why?

Because while they may seem similar, there’s one major difference between juices and smoothies: fiber.

Most juices have had all the pulp removed, which makes the sugar or “fructose” much more concentrated. And when the fructose content is highly concentrated, it can “spike” your blood sugar when you drink it. Over time, these blood sugar spikes can do serious damage — they’ve even been linked to increased body weight, metabolic disorders, and cardiovascular problems.3

But with a blended whole-fruit smoothie, all the plant fiber is included — and that fiber slows down sugar absorption in your body.

The more slowly the fructose is absorbed, the less it will spike your blood sugar. 4

And there’s another big reason fiber is good for you — it actually serves as food to the healthy bacteria in your gut— nourishing them and helping them increase in number. 5

And the more healthy bacteria you have in your system, the more likely you are to be regular, and have less gas and bloating.

Plus… you’ll be less likely to crave unhealthy foods like sugary snacks, pastries, and soda.

So fiber is the way to go… and the reason smoothies are the much better option!

If you’re new to smoothies, don’t sweat it –– they’re actually really easy to make. All you need is a blender, a few healthy ingredients, and about 5-10 minutes.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes. I call it:

Fruit | Probiotic America

“Dr. Nelson’s Sweet and Spicy Green Smoothie”

Ingredients
1-inch knob of ginger, peeled
2 cups kale
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1 carrot
1 orange, peeled
1 cup water or unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons flax meal

Instructions
Add everything to your blender, with greens and ginger at the bottom.
Blend until smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little extra water. If it’s too thin, blend with ½ a frozen banana or ½ an avocado.

Benefits – My Sweet and Spicy Green Smoothie is packed with vegetables and fruit: It contains 2 full servings of fruit, and 3 servings of vegetables. So when you drink this in the morning, you’re getting half of your daily recommended values – in one go!

It’s rich in fiber, which is crucial for blood sugar regulation and good for your gut health.

It tastes amazing! And when fruits and vegetables taste like a tropical drink, it’s that much easier to eat more of them each day. So try it out, and let me know what you think. And if you have a favorite smoothie recipe of your own, let me know – I may just try it myself.

After all, I’m always on the lookout for healthy new recipes to try in my “home health lab” (otherwise known as my kitchen)!

For your health,

 

Dr. Cary Nelson

P.S. If the taste of kale is a little too strong for you, try using spinach instead. It’s just as healthy as kale, but has a milder flavor… It can be easier to find at the grocery store, too.

For more health tips and advice, keep reading:

How Stress is Destroying Your Microbiome (+ 3 stress-busting tips)

Why Your Immune System Depends on Your Gut Health

Sources:

1 Mujcic, Redzo and Andrew J.Oswald. “Evolution Of Well-Being And Happiness After Increases In Consumption Of Fruit And Vegetables”. Am J Public Health 106.8 (2016): 1504-1510. Web. 12 Aug. 2016.

2 Livesey G, Taylor R. Fructose consumption and consequences for gly-cation, plasmid triacylglycerol, and body weight: meta-analyses and meta-regression models of intervention studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;
88:1419–37.

3 Tappy, L. and K.-A. Le. “Metabolic Effects Of Fructose And The Worldwide Increase In Obesity”. Physiological Reviews 90.1 (2010): 23-46. Web.

4 “Improving Your Health With Fiber”. My.clevelandclinic.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 12 Aug. 2016.

5 Holscher, H. D. et al. “Fiber Supplementation Influences Phylogenetic Structure And Functional Capacity Of The Human Intestinal Microbiome: Follow-Up Of A Randomized Controlled Trial”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 101.1 (2014): 55-64. Web.

Breakfast Myth Exposed (new study says it’s bad for you!)

Here’s something shocking:

Each and every morning, you may be doing something dangerous for your health, without even realizing it.

It’s something you were likely told is good for you…

But may actually be making you heavier than you should be… sapping your energy… and even making you feel depressed.

I’m talking about the “breakfast myth.”

Continue reading “Breakfast Myth Exposed (new study says it’s bad for you!)”