Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chayote "apple" crisp; Olive oil, pistachio, and goji berry granola topping

I've been experimenting with grain-free granola lately, and thus I went searching for recipes that use granola as an ingredient. I came across this recipe for a quick "cobbler"; you cook apples in the slow cooker, and then use granola as a topping. Given my love of slow-cooker recipes, I had to figure out a way to make this diet-friendly.

I've seen other low-carbers use chayote squash as a substitute for apples. I peeled, diced, and cooked the chayote with stevia, lemon juice, and apple pie spice -- I guarantee, no one will EVER know they're eating vegetables! According to the entry on NutritionData, it is very low-carb (only 4 net carbs per cup!) and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, zinc, copper and manganese. I also had some homemade low-carb grain-free ginger cookies around, so I crumbled up two of those and mixed them in with the topping. This is totally optional but it was certainly tasty! I still haven't quite perfected the cookie recipe (though I will post it when I do); in the meantime, you can try Christina's gingersnaps.

I definitely recommend serving it in individual ramekins, as I added no thickeners and thus it doesn't hold together quite like traditional apple pie. I ate one and froze the rest. You could probably reheat by baking at 350 for about 10 minutes.

As for the granola, I was loosely inspired by a New York Times recipe that gets rave reviews around the web. Berries are my fruit of choice and are pretty much the only fruit that I eat, since they are high-fiber, low-sugar, reasonably low-carb, and total nutritional powerhouses. However, all of the dried berries I can find are usually sweetened. The one exception is goji berries, so I bought those. I baked them in with the granola but I feel that was a mistake. I would recommend adding them in at the end.

Serves 4

  • 1 lb chayote squash (about two chayotes)
  • 4 packets Sweetleaf stevia or equivalent sweetener (should equal 8-9 tsp sugar)
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 1/2 tsp molasses
  • 1 tsp apple pie spice or cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs + 4 tsp butter, divided (or coconut oil)
  • 1/2-1 cup granola (recipe follows, but you can use any granola recipe you like)
  • 2 grain-free cookies, crumbled (optional)
  1. Peel and dice the chayote squash. Combine it in the slow cooker with the stevia, lemon juice, molasses, and apple pie spice or cinnamon. Cut the 2 Tbs butter into slices and scatter them over the top. Cook on low for 3 hours.
  2. Divide the cooked chayote mixture evenly among four ramekins. If using cookies, combine the cookie crumbs with the granola. Top each with 2-4 Tbs granola mixture, set a teaspoon of butter or coconut oil atop each one, and bake at 350 for about 5 minutes or until done.
  3. Serve with Greek yogurt or whipped cream.

Makes 4-5 cups

  • 3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup dry TVP 
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (make sure it is FLAKES, not shredded coconut)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup chopped pistachio kernels
  • 1 cup pepitas (raw, immature pumpkin seeds)
  • 6 Tbs flax meal
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 Tbs sugar-free maple syrup (I made my own)
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • Powdered sweetener of choice (I used erythritol plus two stevia packets, you could alternately use Truvia or Splenda), to taste or up to 1/3 cup. 1/3 cup will have the level of sweetness of most commercial granolas, but I like mine much less sweet.
  • Large pinch of salt (unless the pistachios are salted)
  • 1/2-1 cup unsweetened goji berries, soaked in hot water if excessively dry (1 cup is tastier but 1/2 cup cuts back on the carbs)
  • Optional: 1 fresh raw egg white, if you prefer a clumpy granola
  1. Warm two tablespoons of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the dry TVP and cook, stirring, for a minute or two or until the oil is mostly absorbed.
  2. Add the coconut, almonds, pistachios, pepitas, sunflower seeds, and spices. Stir until well-combined.
  3. Add powdered sweetener to taste. It should be slightly less sweet than you like, as you will be adding the syrup.
  4. When well-blended, add the syrup and molasses and stir. The syrup will likely evaporate. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt or sweetener if desired.
  5. Take off the heat and immediately stir in the flax meal plus the additional tablespoon of olive oil.
  6. For a clumpy granola, follow these directions. Otherwise, just bake at 300 degrees. In either case, check on it every ten minutes. Mine was done after about 35 minutes. Stir in the goji berries at the end.


christina said...

wow, that looks amazing....i love apple crisp!

Erica said...

You should try it with the chayotes! Especially next time you make gingersnaps ;)

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