Summertime brings us the gift of plump, juicy cherries that kiss our lips with sweetness. It’s difficult to eat a cherry without imagining what it might taste like filling a pie or tart or pastry. I came up with this crumble recipe so that I could occasionally indulge in a tantalizing treat without feeling an enormous amount of guilt afterward. Exchanging wheat flour for gluten-free oats and walnut pieces, I created a topping that compliments the tart cherries while providing protein and fiber. Using not one grain of sugar more than necessary, I believe this crumble makes a nutritious sweet treat for occasions when a dessert is necessary.
Cherries are considered a stone fruit because,of the hard pit in the middle. While it takes some effort to remove the pits, the nutritional prowess of cherries make it a worthwhile job. Cherries provide potassium,which lowers blood pressure. They are a natural source of melatonin, so they can be used to relax you, cool the body and make it easier to fall into a pleasant slumber. Cherries are high in antioxidants and help to keep inflammation at bay and ward off cancer. The anthocyanims in cherries actually help boost metabolism. How can it be that something that tastes so good also has so many nutritional properties? I say, don’t ask, just enjoy!
4 cups fresh or frozen pitted cherries
2 tbsp. sugar (or agave or honey or maple syrup)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
juice of 1/2 lime
1 splash cream sherry
1/2 tsp. pink Himalayan salt
2 -3 tbsp. non-GMO corn starch
1. If using frozen cherries, let defrost before preparing the filling. Make sure all cherries are pitted. Place in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add all other ingredients except the corn starch and mix together until evenly distributed.
3. Sprinkle the corn starch over the cherry filling a little at a time and stir to ensure it doesn’t cake or clump until it has all been used. If the cherry mixture still seems too watery, add a bit more corn starch.
4. Set filling aside while you are making the topping.
1 stick organic butter softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups gluten-free oatmeal
1 cup walnut pieces
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. pink Himalayan or sea salt
1. Mix softened butter and brown sugar together in a mixing bowl.
2. Stir in the oatmeal and salt until well mixed.
3. Stir in the walnuts.
4. Preheat oven to 350º.
5. Arrange cherry filling in a glass pan that has been prepared with butter or oil.
6. Carefully spoon the topping over one part of the cherry filling and gently spread it slightly using the back of the spoon. Continue to spoon the topping over the filling until the whole surface is covered. It’s fine if a cherry peeks through here or there.
7. Place the baking dish on top of a baking sheet to avoid drips and put in the center of the heated oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is slightly brown and the cherry filling is bubbling.
8. Enjoy this healthy crumble warm!
Note: Oatmeal is gluten free, but some oats are processed in facilities where cross-contamination with wheat occurs. For gluten-sensitive people, it is important to buy a truly gluten-free product. Some people with Celiac disease cannot eat oats or wheat. In that case, the oats can be substituted with another grain of their choice.
Adding less sugar to the filling means that it won’t thicken as much as a normal cobbler or crumble filling. I’m fine with that because I realize I am exchanging the thickened texture for something healthier: less sugar.
If you aren’t crazy about cherries, substitute apples, blueberries or strawberries and rhubarb. Even peach would work nicely.
I do not recommend getting in the habit of eating sugary treats on a regular basis. Sugar can be addictive for many people , and may cause cravings when eaten too often. Adding sugar to your diet can create a source of weight gain that you may not immediately attribute to the source.
This recipe is dedicated to my dear and talented friend, Mike Dineen, who is now flying with the angels. I hope they serve cherry crumble in heaven, Mikey Dee, for I know you will write a clever story about it.