I came home from the grocery yesterday with a bag full of Granny Smith apples, for my son, who goes through them at an alarming rate, only to remember that I had just bought a full bag of apples the day before. Since I often buy apples a dozen at a time, I was now looking at 20 or so apples, and could simply let my son eat his way through them… or I could find something else to make with a few of those apples that other people in the family might also enjoy.
Granny Smith apples just happen to be my favorite apple for making pies, so my mind immediately went in that direction. But a pie is so crust heavy, not that it doesn’t taste heavenly, but I would prefer to find a recipe that is more about the apple than the flour and crust. And so my daughter pushed me in the direction of an apple crisp.
More exactly, we decided to make ourselves a few oatmeal flour apple crisps. Which sounds pretty weird, right? Why go with oatmeal flour, and not a more traditional apple crisp recipe? I’ll tell you why, it’s all about the calories!
My daughter and I found what looked to be an absolutely fabulous apple crisp recipe by Ina Garten. But when I took all the ingredients and added them into my nutrition calculator, the results were 554 calories for one serving! I like dessert as much as the next guy, maybe even more, but generally I like to keep my treats and guilty pleasures at a much lower level, preferably in the 200-300 calorie range.
I looked Ina’s recipe over, and it looked great. Most of her recipes do. But I wanted to try a few changes that I hoped would reduce the overall health impact of the apple crisp, but still be a tasty treat for my family. The two biggest changes we made were reducing the amount of sugar included, and then dropping the wheat flour, since those two ingredients really pushed the sugar and carb counts very high.
There were a few aspects of the original recipe that I didn’t want to mess with too much. I really like the idea of oat flour, not because we are gluten free in our house, but I do try to minimize our exposure to modern wheat, and since I don’t need the apple crisp topping to rise, there is no reason to include regular flour. I also thought the use of an orange was nice, but you could certainly use a lemon is you prefer.
By making our changes, and also reducing the serving size a little bit, we were able to shave over 200 calories off of each apple crisp. We also cut the total carb count in half, dropping over 48 grams as well as another 33 grams of sugar. Of course, all of these calculations were done before we dropped some vanilla ice cream on top of each apple crisp!
Making a dessert that has less calories than other options is all good and fine, and maybe I can pat myself on the back, but ultimately it’s worthless if no one wants to eat it. That doesn’t seem to be a problem here. The eight ramekins I prepared disappeared quickly, and it wasn’t too long before my children were asking for another batch to help them get through their weeks.
- 2.5 lbs granny smith apples, peeled and cored
- grated zest of one orange (or lemon)
- juice from one orange (or lemon)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup oat flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick of butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
- Peel and core all of your apples
- Chop the apples into small pieces
- Toss the apples with the orange juice and zest, cinnamon and sugar
- Place the apple mixture into 8 ramekins
- For the topping, mix the oat meal, ½ cup sugar, salt and butter
- Using your hand, mix the butter into the oat mixture until the butter pieces resemble small pebbles
- Cover the top of each ramekin with the oat flour butter mixture
- Bake at 350 between 45 and 60 minutes
Depending upon your personal situation, this nutritional panel may look pretty scary to you. Three hundred calories is a bunch to add after dinner for most people, and it may be tough to include very often if you are trying to watch your weight. But believe me, as bad as this panel looks, it is so much better than all of the others I put together when looking at other people’s recipes!