About this time of year, I can’t go through the produce section at the grocery store without picking up a package of fresh cranberries. They’re in season, they’re native to North America, and on top of being loaded with fiber and vitamin C, they contain a phytonutrient called proanthocyanidin. Proanthocyanidins (PACs) are thought by scientists to be the nutrient component of cranberries that give it antibacterial properties – like many other phytonutrients, they need more research to support how it works and how much to recommend. But you may have heard that cranberry juice can reduce urinary tract infections, which PACs appear to do by preventing adhesion of bacterial cells. If they can’t stick, they can’t replicate and colonize!
Pretty cool, but let’s not go too far down that road…and instead talk about how these tart little berries are awesome for baking! I made a fantastic apple-cranberry crisp at Williams Sonoma last weekend (click here to check out sales and coupons from them!), and wanted to try it again at home with a few tweaks to make it just as delicious but a little bit healthier. I have to say I think I made it quite a bit healthier, and even tastier – it was received very well by all test subjects who tried it, and is higher in protein, fiber, and lower in sugar than the WS version. It’s also gluten-free, and could be made vegan if cold coconut oil were used in place of butter! And by using part of the “crisp” as a bottom crust, it’s even able to be enjoyed without a spoon.
Remember the 2Armadillos chickpeas I’ve been featuring in recent posts? Well, they have a new flavor – Cinnamon Toast – so I figured they’d make a nice addition to a sweet recipe. If you can’t get your hands on any, substitute extra nuts and a pinch of cinnamon.
Make it. Taste it. Talk to me. :)
Cranberry apple crisp bars
- 1 c rolled oats
- 1 c slivered almonds
- 1/2 c 2Armadillos Cinnamon Toast Chickpeas
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 1/2 c cornstarch
- 4 Tbsp cold butter
- 2 apples, diced with skin on
- 1 package (12oz) fresh cranberries
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1/2 c water
Preheat oven to 350F. In a blender or food processor, pulse the first 3 crisp ingredients until finely ground. Add sugar and cornstarch, pulse to mix. Using a dough setting (or pulsing once a second), add butter until pea-sized granules form. Reserve 1 c of this mixture, and press the rest into an oiled 9×13 pan using waxed paper to form a dense crust. Sprinkle apple chunks evenly on top. In a pan on the stove, heat water, sugar, and cranberries until boiling; wait ~5 minutes until cranberries burst and become saucy, stirring constantly. Pour over the apples and spread with a spatula. Use the rest of the crust crumble to top, sprinkling over without packing down. Bake for 25 minutes, slice when cool.
PS – Reading anything good? A chapter of something excellent and fictional is part of my nightly ritual, and a friend highly recommended Jitterbug Perfume! It goes well with cranberry apple crisp bars and tea in my reading nook.