Apple Crisp Nostalgia

I’m interrupting the series on peanut butter to fulfill a sudden craving. Yesterday I was trying to figure out what to do with some chayotes I found at the farmer’s market which have been sitting in my fruit bowl for a month. Considering their use as an apple substitute in low-carb cooking, I went over the possibilities. Fried cinnamon “apples,” stuffed “apples,” “apple” muffins… nah. And then it hit me. I saw visions of steaming casserole dishes full of fragrant, crumbly apple crisp. The red box with the ready-made topping mixture stands out in my memory, as does the extensive peeling over the sink required to reap the rewards. Labor intensive, but so worth it. I had to recapture the magic of this childhood favorite sans the sugar so it wouldn’t leave me furtively cleaning out half the tupperware container at midnight, Redi-whip can in hand.

Instead of replacing all the apples to cut down the amount of fructose sugar, I let a couple of big, juicy organic apples work their magic with some thinly sliced chayotes. These ugly green squashes are pretty nondescript in flavor, and have the perfect texture after some heavy duty steaming to play well with the sweeter, softer apples. The chayotes will suck up all the apple-y goodess in the marinating and cooking process, leaving anyone who tastes this dish blissfully unaware of their presence. Flour and brown sugar are usually the main ingredients in the crunchy topping, but nuts and a touch of blackstrap molasses work just as well, with a ton more flavor. With this sugar- and gluten-free apple crisp, you get all of the health benefits of apples with none of the blood sugar spike and fat storing insulin response. The phytochemicals in apples may promote lung health, protect against cancer, and prevent cardiovascular disease. Okay, need any more reasons to eat apple crisp?

Nutty Apple Crisp

Makes 10-12 servings

Ingredients:
2 medium-sized apples, thinly sliced (1/4″ thick)
2 chayotes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup organic lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
Sweeteners
For ALL NATURAL sweetening, use all three of the following:
-6 tablespoons erythritol
-Pure stevia extract, to taste
-1/2 teaspoon blackstrap molasses

1 cup nut meal (almond, pecan, hazelnut, etc.)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans and walnuts)
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon oat flour (optional)
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum (optional, firms up the filling)

Preparation:
Peel and slice apples and chayotes, tossing apples in a bowl with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and placing chayotes in a microwave safe dish. Add the other 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, water, and 3 tablespoons of the erythritol to the chayotes, stirring the squash around to coat. Microwave for 12-14 minutes on high or until fork tender, stirring half way through the cooking process. Remove from microwave and let cool. Taste and add additional sweeteners to the chayotes if necessary. You want them to be as sweet as the apples.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Melt butter in the microwave until liquified. Whisk in erythritol, blackstrap molasses, and vanilla extract. Mix with dry ingredients until crumbly. Taste and add additional sweetener to the topping if necessary. Add chayotes to bowl of apples and fold in xanthan gum thoroughly. Butter a baking dish, and fill it with layered chayote and apple slices. Sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until crisp is bubbly and browned. Crisp the top under the broiler setting for a few minutes if necessary. Let cool for 10 minutes. This is best eaten fresh, so make a small batch if you have to!

~5.5 grams net carbs per serving

Serve with fresh whipped cream and garnish with cinnamon sticks (50 cents in the Mexican aisle!) for a classy touch.

  • Low Carb Adrenaline Junkie

    My mouth waters every time I come to your site. Wow I’m hungry for some apple crisp now. Thanks for dropping by my blog and leaving a comment. Great minds think alike.

  • Sweet Pea

    This looks so good!

    I have the chayotes (which I knew nothing about before this recipe) and am ready to go, but what is the oven temp?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12992918908739085132 Lauren

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Lauren

    The oven temp is 375 degrees, Sweet Pea! Let me know how you like it! :)

  • Sweet Pea

    I made it last night! It was so good. I can’t believe how much the chayote tastes like apple!

    I left the apples out to lower the carbs and baked it at 350, but the top didn’t get very crisp. That must be why you bake it at 375. It was still delish!

    So I just have to help you spread the word on these chayotes! They really absorb the cinnamon and sweet flavors and are a perfect sub for apples.

    One note, for those who have never cut one up, you might add to your recipe: peel and quarter the chayotes, then remove the seed and surrounding hard stuff (or something like that) then thinly slice.

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I would never have known what it was or what to do with it.

    Sweet pea

  • livelife365

    Wow, that looks great! I’m going to give that a try. Never have had chayotes before. You have an awesome site, glad I stopped by.

    peace,
    Mike
    livelife365

  • rachel

    I bought my first chayote a few wks ago and not knowing what in the world to do w/ it, I tossed it into a stir fry. This sounds much better–cant wait to try it! Apple crisp is very reminiscent of home and happy times for me. :)

  • Ces

    I just stumbled upon your page after I googled toaster oven apple crisp and I gave it a shot. Great idea! I just basically threw together a bunch of apple crisp stuff, like you did, with chayote… came out awesome. :) good job.

  • WindDancer

    thanks for this recipe! So delicious. I didn't have guar gum and we made it with peach, blueberry, and strawberries instead of apples. It is so good! We added coconut flakes to top of crumble.
    YUM

  • Rica

    Hi Lauren,

    I am sharing a garden spot this summer with two friends. Besides picking tomatoes almost everyday, one of my friends planted lemon cucumber, a vegetable new to me. Have you heard of it? It has a mild flavor, and resembles a lemon, in both shape and color. It has none of the astringent flavors that some cucumbers impart. It also has a lot of seeds. At first I thought to make pickles, but I’m not that fond of pickles Then I stumbled across a low carb website where someone had substituted cucumbers for apples in a crisp. So I thought what the heck? Maybe I could try my lemon cucumbers in an apple crisp, kind of like you with your chayote. So I came to your website looking for inspiration, and you did not disappoint with this recipe.

    My crumble burnt a little, and I think that is b/c I used individual glass ramekins for the crisp. When you bake with glass, you are supposed to turn the heat down 25F, I clearly should have done that in this case. But I peeled the lemon cucumbers and removed the seeds. Then I cut them in very thin slices and cooked everything in the MW as you suggested. I cooked them for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. What I got was a tender product, with a little bite not unlike a cooked apple.

    My nut for the crumble was macadamia nuts, and they were so buttery and delicious, they were very hard to stop eating! The cukes did cook down a great deal and next time I will start with 6 cups of sliced cucumber as a start. I even forgot the guar gum and found that by cooking the cukes down enough, I did not need the added thickener.

    So watch for those lemon cucumbers at your next visit to the Farmer’s Market. May you be as delighted as I was, to find a new use for a cucumber.
    Thanks Lauren!

    • http://www.healthyindulgences.net/ Lauren B.

      Rica, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for lemon cucumbers at the local farmer’s market during the summer now that you mentioned it. Thanks for sharing your experience with the crisp. I had no idea baking with glass made such a difference. Mac nuts are so addictive for me as well that I can’t keep ‘em in the house, but incorporating them into baked nut recipes sounds like a good way to get my mac fix. :D Your comments are always informative, so thanks for the feedback, Rica!

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  • Carlyn

    Oh my goodness! I made this a few days ago and it was GLORIOUS! I was trying SO hard not to mess the recipe up (I am such a ditz when it comes to skipping a step or ingredient), and at the last minute I forgot the xanthan gum! I thought I had ruined the recipe, but luckily it turned out great! I added a little more erythritol on accident to the crumb topping, and it browned a little too much on the top ( I agree with Rica that you need to turn the temp down slightly when cooking in glass) but it tasted like heaven. My “meat and potatoes” boyfriend loved it and was so surprised when I told him it was gluten, flour and sugar free, not to mention made with a type of squash. The chayotes are really difficult to work with, but soooo worth it!!! Thank you Lauren!