Crisp & Delicious

Sounds like an apple, eh?  Well, it's not... although I have been enjoying apple chunks for my mid-morning snacks lately.  This week's recipe if for individual blueberry crisps that border on healthy.  Actually, when you consider the ingredients - blueberries, oats, almonds - it really is healthy.  My version is based on one I found online (Epicurious) but I made a few changes/additions to suit my palate.

The first time I made it, I didn't feel there was quite enough topping, so I remedied that.  Also, as blueberries are naturally sweet, it had a sweetness that some of the reviewers said was "cloying" and they cut the sugar in half.  While I found that statement pretty silly (considering the recipe only has 6 tablespoons of sugar total compared to my mother's crisp which has close to 2 cups!), I did find it needed a little acid to brighten the flavors. Lemon zest did the trick.

The health aspects.  Let's start with the blueberries. 10 a day, is what I have been told, to reduce the risk of cancer. 'Why?' I wondered... Well, blueberries have a diverse range of micro-nutrients, with notably high levels of the essential dietary mineral manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K and dietary fiber. Blueberries contain antioxidants and various phytochemicals that possibly have a role in reducing risks of some diseases, specifically some cancers. Researchers have shown blueberries contain pterostilbene, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, resveratrol, flavonols, and tannins, which inhibit mechanisms of cancer cell development... at least when grown in vitro.

Oatmeal. Without looking this up, I know from my doctor that oatmeal is a significant factor (along with those two four-letter words exer cise) in reducing cholesterol. And, for many, this is absolutely true. But the thing that makes it good for your cholesterol is also what makes it good for anybody.  Fiber.  We all need a good dose of fiber each day and, the more our diet has been 'refined' through so many processed foods, the less dietary fiber we get. Daily fiber requirements (for adult men and women) range from 21 grams to 38 grams! Check your diet and I imagine you will be shocked at how little you are getting.

Almonds. For anyone on a diet, nuts can be anathema. They are high in fat but, as they say, "It's a good fat!" With careful usage, they can be our friend. Almonds are high in dietary fiber, calcium and iron, are low in sodium and cholesterol, and contain large amounts of riboflavin, manganese, magnesium and vitamin E. How good is that?

And, after hearing all the good things this dessert contains, it only has 2 tablespoons of butter in the entire thing!  Not bad at all. So this dessert is a friendly dessert - whether you are dieting or not. If you aren't on a diet, add a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream. But it is good just pain and warm out of the oven, and I assure you that you will not for a moment think, 'This is a diet recipe."

Happy eating! 

- David

Blueberry-Lemon Crisps

3 cups fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
zest of one lemon
2/3 cup quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F. Rinse blueberries. Drain, allowing some water to cling to berries (this is important). Place berries in large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon; stir to blend. Let stand until sugar dissolves and coats berries. Divide among 6 ramekins – about 1/2 cup each.

Stir oats, flour, salt, and remaining 4 tablespoons brown sugar to blend in medium bowl. Add butter and rub in with your fingertips until moist clumps form. Stir in almonds. Sprinkle mixture evenly over blueberries. Bake crisps until berries are bubbling and topping is golden, about 35 minutes. Serve warm, topped with a spoonful of frozen yogurt, if desired.

Note: These may be kept in the freezer, well-wrapped, for 1 month. Defrost and then reheat in 250ºF oven. The 'crispiness' may suffer a little but they are still excellent.

Serves 6

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