Grain Free, Dairy Free Apple Crisp

We recently spent a weekend in West Seattle where we stayed at my sweetie’s cousins home, which I must say is quite a charming neighborhood!  We had such a great time walking to the local digs.  Of course, I had to check out the grocery stores, one of my favorite things to do!  I just can’t resist a good natural grocer!  Alki Beach was a short drive away where we spent time enjoying the sights and sunsets.  It was such a wonderfully relaxing mini vacation that was much needed.

The house was such a cute place, with one of the coolest kitchens!  While small, it was a great lay out and seemed very functional; a plus for me since I spend a lot of time in kitchens!  One afternoon as I wandered around the outside perimeter of the house checking out the plants and landscape, I noticed apples on the ground around a tiny tree. It seemed too small to be producing fruit, yet sure enough when I looked up I saw a plethora of red orbs waiting to be picked.  I was so excited and I picked several pounds of apples in no time!  This is one of my happiest moments: picking food from it’s origins then creating something delicious.  This truly makes my heart big.  I love the feeling of this in a way I just cannot describe.  So, I’ll say that I was skipping and smiling pretty big at the bag of apples I had.  My creative juices started going as I began imagining delicious crisp toppings.  I wanted to make it grain free and dairy free so I went a new direction with a topping after a bit of recipe research.

Here’s what I came up with:

I sliced all the apples (about 4 cups) and gave them a lemon water bath to keep them from browning.  After draining them, I tossed them in a large bowl with a few sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg along with a couple tablespoons of coconut sugar then mixed it so all the apple slices were coated.  I spread the slices evenly into a greased 9″x 13″ baking pan.  I made the following topping:

1/2 cup cashew pieces

1/4 cup almond pieces

1/8 cup walnut pieces

1/4 cup almond meal

1/8 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp sea salt

I mixed the dry ingredients together until well blended then cut in about 5 Tblsp of Earth Balance Soy Free spread until it was well incorporated.  I sprinkled the topping evenly over the apples slices then baked it in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

The nuts added a great texture and it had a lovely flavor that wasn’t too sweet.  The spice combination along with those sweet apples gave this crisp an overall fantastic taste.

Next time I’ll whip up a little coconut cream with a dash of vanilla for an extra delicious addition!

baby tree with so much to offer!

baby tree with so much to offer!

all spiced and ready to go!

all spiced and ready to go!

Baked goodness!

Baked goodness!

Tea and Treats

I have had such a sweet tooth recently!  Sugar is not something I generally have an affinity toward, but there are some hormonal shifts happening in my body and the sugar cravings have been kicking in with a vengeance.

While sifting through my bulging folder of recipes not long ago, I found a couple of recipes that are grain free, sweetened with agave and along the lines of “dessert”, both relatively healthy options for satisfying my sugar craving.  When it comes to gluten free baked goods I proceed with caution.  I cross my fingers hoping that the recipe is well tested, that my process is correct and that my hard work will not be in vain.  Food waste is disgraceful, with greater disgrace when the waste is so expensive.

I had an upcoming tea date with my best friend so this I must say, this was the perfect opportunity (excuse!) to try out these lovely recipes.  Both would be perfect partners with tea.  The first recipe is a walnut date bar using almond flour.  The second recipe is a lemon almond biscotti recipe also using almond flour in addition to being vegan.  I have looked at this biscotti recipe so many times and most recently it has been laying on my kitchen counter for me to scan each time I happen by that area of the kitchen.  It has been such an enticement, but not enough for me to be inspired enough to make them.  I have never made gluten free biscotti and for some reason felt intimidated by its very specific technique.

I am feeling excited for time with my best friend, who has not been to our house in I don’t know how long!  We rarely stray from our sushi dinner dates which either begin or end with tea at her house.  This is a rare treat for sure!  My bestie loves rituals.   She also loves our Zen Room, which provides a peaceful environment where we can escape into the present moment and just slow down.  Slow is good and rituals slow us down allowing us to connect with the here and now.

With an emerging vision of a tea ritual, I found the inspiration to take on this seemingly daunting conquest of biscotti making.  Well, I find it rather silly now that I was so worried about how this recipe would turn out and that somehow the preparation might be hard.  These were so easy to make and they turned out beautifully with such a fantastic flavor.  The lemon flavor grandstands these soft crisp treats.  They certainly got rave reviews from my bestie and my sweetie.  Ok, I really do have to rave, too.  These are fabulous and delicious!  I highly recommend giving these a go!

The walnut date bars were a breeze to prepare as well and smelled magnificent while baking.  Seriously.  Intoxicating.  These bars are lightly sweet, chewy from the dates and cake like in texture.  The date and walnut combination is outstanding.  My mom would have loved these bars.  Dates and walnuts together were one of her favorites in cookies and desserts.  It was such a delightful addition to tea.

My bestie and I spent the afternoon chatting about life and our individual journeys as we march (and flail!) through each day.  We offered each other support and acknowledged that life sometimes isn’t very fun so it is important to stop and connect with others, but more importantly, connect with ourselves and find our place in the present moment.

In the midst of savoring our snacks and sipping our tea, we also found plenty to laugh about as we rejuvenated and refreshed our spirits surrounded by the peaceful environment of the Zen Room.

The afternoon not only satisfied my sweet tooth, it satisfied my desire to spend time with my bestie; a friendship I deeply appreciate.

I encourage you to find your quiet moment and savor the present.  It could be made even more delicious with the inclusion of these treats.  Here are the recipes:

Date Walnut Bars

Zen Room

Zen Room


Walnut Bars and Lemon Almond Biscotti




Tea & Treats!!