I’ve never been a “New Year’s resolution” kind of girl. I figure if I see a change that needs made in my life (eating healthy, weight loss, being nicer), I should do it right away—whether it’s January or August. But I know that lots of people have taken the opportunity of a new calendar year to re-evaluate their lives and make healthier and smarter decisions.
So this one’s especially for you people. Because I’m all about eating healthy and making smart choices, but I’m also all about the fact that sometimes you Just. Need. Dessert. And I’m here to show you that dessert doesn’t need to be a diet-breaker.
I love sweets, but I tend to love things that are lightly sweet, not super rich. My two favorite desserts to make for myself are my healthy peach crisp and a healthy pear-banana pie with streusel topping (with whole wheat crust). These rely on the sweetness of the fruit, whole wheat flour, oats, oil, and the flavor of all the spices.
I used an adjusted version of my peach crisp, and changed up the flavors a little. I had a few pears sitting around and was looking for something to do with them. Pears are my absolute favorite fruit (when they’re actually ripe) and there are so many interesting flavors that partner well with them. This recipe is very forgiving, you can change up amounts and flavors to suit your needs or the size of your pan (it could even make a delicious pie with my aunt’s whole wheat and oil pie crust).
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Core and chop up the pears into bite-size pieces.
Spray a pan with non-stick spray (I used a 7×11 pan since I only had 3 pears). I drizzled the pears with the last of the Irish honey from my vacation last year. I was worried the cranberries would be too tart, which is why I used the honey, but honestly the dish was probably sweet enough on its own if you’re trying to cut sugar and calories.
Sprinkle the cranberries evenly over the pears. My cranberries were frozen, so I microwaved them for 30 seconds to a minute to mostly thaw them.
Here’s where the flavors come in, and it’s completely up to you. I know that almond, cinnamon, and cardamom go very well with pears, so I used about a teaspoon of almond extract, and sprinkled some cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom on the fruit. I also sprinkled a tiny bit of lemon juice, some cornstarch and a few teaspoons of lukewarm water, to help it thicken slightly. Then gently stir everything together.
For the topping, use about a 1-1-1 ratio for the whole wheat flour, brown sugar, and quick oats. For the 7×11 pan, I used 1/3 cup of each, plus some more cinnamon and then a few tablespoons of olive oil. Again, the recipe is very forgiving, so just add oil until it forms some crumbles. This recipe probably took about 4 or 5 tablespoons. Mix together with a fork.
Sprinkle evenly over the fruit. I thought it was still a little dry, so I drizzled a little olive oil over it.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the topping (at least the part with oil on it) turns golden and crispy, and the fruit is bubbly.
This was my first time ever baking (or cooking) with cranberries, and it turned out so good! I ate the whole pan in two days, and absolutely loved the flavor combination. It was healthy and fiberful and packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, and generally awesome. Eat away, guilt-free!
Healthy Pear-Cranberry Crisp
Note: this recipe is for a 7×11 pan, but can be scaled up for a larger pan; I’d use an extra pear and 1/2 cup of cranberries for a 9×13
- 3 pears (I used bosc)
- About a cup of fresh cranberries
- Splash of lemon juice
- About 2 tablespoons of cornstarch (and about the same of water)
- Honey (or brown sugar) to taste
- 1 teaspoon of almond extract
- Cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg to taste (I used about a teaspoon of cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom, & 1/4 of nutmeg)
- Topping: 1/3 cup quick oats, 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 3-5 tablespoons of olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375 F and spray your pan with non-stick spray. Core the pears and chop into bite-size pieces, evenly distributing in the pan. Sprinkle the cranberries over the pears. Sprinkle/splash the lemon juice, cornstarch, water, almond extract, honey or brown sugar (if you’re using, I found it was sweet enough without), cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg over the fruit. Stir together gently in the baking dish.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the quick oats, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, and olive oil, mixing with a fork to form a crumbly topping. Some of the topping will still be dry, and this is fine. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes (largely depends on what size of pan you used), until the topping is golden brown and the fruit mixture is bubbling.
Let me know how it turns out for you!