It’s that time of the year again when seasonal produce is bountiful, and with the days getting cooler, I notice I’m starting to crave foods that warm the cockles, as well as nourish the body.
On one of our walks a couple of weeks ago, we picked enough blackberries from our local park to fill two sizeable storage containers. They went straight into the freezer, first frozen on a tray in one layer, then bagged, so that I can easily take out the amount I need/want, instead of a huge clump of berries, which would form if I put them in a bag fresh and froze. So now I have a large bag full of these delicious black jewels and it’s so much easier to take out just a handful or two for my smoothies, breakfasts or desserts.
My apple tree in the garden is also chock-full of apples, so what else would I make from these seasonal goodies than – yes, you guessed it! – an apple and blackberry crumble! But before I reveal my ‘oldie but goodie’ recipe, here are some health facts on these yummy fruits, and some exciting news about a new community eBook I’ve been privileged to be involved in over the summer.
Health Benefits of Blackberries
Blackberries are a good source of vitamins C and K and the mineral of manganese. These are nutrients that can help the body enhance its antioxidant capacity and fight against many diseases. However, blackberries become a real star for me, when considering the long list of phytonutrients they contain: various anthocyanins (e.g. cyanidins and pelargonidin); various flavanols (e.g. as quercetin, kaempferol and myricetin) and various phenolic acids (e.g. ellagic acid, gallic acid and courmaric acid). These phytonutrients are bioactive compounds and powerful antioxidants that may lower the risk of many inflammatory diseases, as well as protect us against premature ageing.
An Apple a Day Keeps The Doctor Away?
The humble apple might not be so humble after all! Although it contains sugar, its glycaemic index is low-to-medium, meaning that it’s less likely to spike our blood sugar levels, which is something we want to avoid. High spiking blood sugar is usually followed by a crash when blood sugar drops too low, leading to symptoms, such as low energy, low mood, irritability and cravings, particularly for sugary foods. Constantly fluctuating blood sugar levels are no good for health, and can lead to many common chronic diseases.
If you want to read more on the topic of blood sugar, check out my article ‘The Highs and Lows of Blood Sugar And The Importance of Balance’ in a new community eBook The Little Book of Happy, Healthy Living, put together by Jo Romero from the Comfort Bites Blog. There are two articles that I wrote in the book, the other one is about the physiological stress response and how chronic stress affects our health in a myriad of ways. Click the image below to get your own copy.
And now back to the apples… It’s most probably the fibre in apples that helps moderate blood sugar levels. Fibre slows down the absorption of sugars from any carbohydrate foods we eat, which also helps us keep our weight in check by keeping us feeling fuller for longer. Fibre also feeds the beneficial microbes in our gut that protect us from infections by crowding out bad disease-causing micro-organisms. These good bugs feed on the fibres that our bodies can’t digest and convert them to some amazing molecules with anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. These molecules may also keep our moods stable and brains functioning well, so don’t forget to include lots of fibre-rich foods in your diet to stay happy and healthy.
(And don’t also forget to check out The Little Book of Happy, Healthy Living, which contains 22 articles on various health-related topics including mental health, as well as 27 recipes, by 19 experts in the field of nutrition, health and fitness.)
This crumble is paleo, grain-free, gluten-free and low sugar but still tastes sweet enough to satisfy any sweet tooth. I’m using blackstrap molasses and coconut sugar to sweeten the dish.
Blackstrap molasses is a gorgeous nutritious alternative to sugar. It’s a byproduct of the sugar refining process, which generally strips the product off all nutrients resulting in refined white sugar. Blackstrap molasses is what’s left from the third boiling of sugar, a dark, thick viscous liquid, full of deep flavour and high in minerals iron, potassium, calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium, selenium. It’s my preferred sweetener due it’s lower sugar content and high mineral content – and because it is so delicious that I could actually eat it by the spoonful!
Tigernut flour also has a slightly sweet taste, so less sugar is required when using it to make treats. Tigernuts, or chufa in Spanish, are not nuts but tiny tubers that are very high in fibre and resistant starch, both great for feeding our gut microbes, while at the same time adding a sweet flavour to desserts.
Here’s my crumble recipe:
2 Bramley apples
1 tsp coconut oil
2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 tsp cinnamon
150 g blackberries
Preheat oven to 160C.
Peel, core and chop apples into small chunks and add to a saucepan. Add coconut oil, molasses and cinnamon and cook on a medium heat for a few minutes. Add blackberries and mix well with the apples and cook further until apples are softened but not mushy, approx. 5-10 minutes. Take off heat and tip into an oven proof dish.
50 g (1/2 cup) ground almonds
50 g (1/2 cup) tigernut flour
100 g (approx. 1 cup) nuts (e.g. almonds and walnuts)
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1/2 tsp ginger powder
50 g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Pinch of salt
While the apples and berries are simmering, mix ground almonds and tigernut flour in a bowl. Put the nuts in a food processor and pulse until they are broken into crumbs. Add the nuts into the bowl with flour, then add sugar, ginger and salt and mix well. Add the butter into the bowl and use your fingers to work it into the flour-nut mixture until it resembles coarse sand. Add most of this crumble topping on top of the fruit in your oven dish to cover the fruit. Pour the rest of the crumble on a small oven tray. Put both the crumble dish and the oven tray into the preheated oven, bake for 10-15 minutes (keep an eye on it to avoid too much browning) and then take the tray out, but carry on baking the fruit crumble for another 10-15 minutes until bubbling on the sides.
To serve, spoon some fruit crumble into serving bowls, pour over full-fat coconut milk or dairy cream, sprinkle over some extra topping from the tray and dollop some (coconut) yogurt on top. Finish with a drizzling of the juices from the crumble dish over the yogurt.
To get personalised advice and recommendations on how you can support your health with nutrition and lifestyle medicine, please get in touch to book your free 20 minute discovery call to learn how nutritional therapy can help you.
Contact Minna on [email protected] or 07723932722.