If you're looking for a healthy Thanksgiving dessert, this slow cooker apple crisp recipe is for YOU! It's so easy to make–in fact, this gluten free apple pie is made with just 1 pot (your crockpot) and is full of delicious warming spices and seasonal apples. Plus, the crumble topping is bursting with healthy fats and fiber from the oats, nuts, and ghee. Vegetarian and Paleo friendly, too, with a savvy substitution!
UPDATE: This post originally appeared in October 2017.
This post is sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
With fall nearly here, it means that the holidays are sneaking up on us more quickly than we can imagine! When it comes to Thanksgiving, it seems people fall into one of two camps: they can't wait for the holiday and plan to go hog wild on all their favorite dishes, healthy or not. Ooooorrrrrrr, they panic and worry about how they'll ever stick to their diet and not feeling major FOMO all day.
But listen, it doesn't have to be like that. First of all, just think about the most popular dishes on Thanksgiving.
You've got your turkey, of course. A great, lean, high-quality protein.
And you've got your sides: green beans and corn and brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes and cranberries. All nutrient-dense fruits and veggies full of fiber, antioxidants and
And even dessert is made with real, whole foods like apples and pumpkin.
So the basis of Thanksgiving actually is healthy…it's just all the add-ons that get us into trouble: all the butter and heavy cream and cheese and refined sugar and sodium.
But guess what? It doesn't have to be that way–there are healthy substitutions for nearly all of these ingredients, and I promise you won't even sacrifice flavor.
Butter -> grass-fed ghee.
Dairy -> nut milks
Refined sugar -> Natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey and coconut sugar
See, you can have your cake and eat it, too. Or in the case of this post, you can have your apple pie and eat it, too.
Yep, this slow cooker apple crisp recipe has all of your favorite holiday flavors (sweet and tangy apples, warming spices, roasted nuts, the works!), but none of the bad stuff. It's gluten free, refined sugar free, vegetarian, dairy free and even Paleo friendly, with one little swap. Check it out!
Ghee vs Butter
Ok, let me start this by saying that I love butter (who doesn't?!) and I do believe it can be a healthy part of an anti-inflammatory diet, particularly if you choose organic, grass-fed butter.
For starters grass-fed cows are healthier than factory-farmed or grain-fed cows; it's higher in omega-3 fatty acids and CLA, butyrate, and it's more nutrient-dense. A single tablespoon of grass-fed butter contains 500 IU vitamin A, more carotenes than carrots, and is chockfull of vitamin K2, vitamin D, and vitamin E.
What does this mean for you? The nutrients in butter may help to reduce tumors, lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and actually lower body fat, aid in detoxification, improve colon health, and support healthy insulin levels. (source)
But butter does contain dairy, and because there are plenty of opportunities to eat dairy this holiday season, I like to swap in ghee every now and then.
What is ghee? Ghee is clarified butter. But there's one key difference between ghee and regular butter.
Butter = Milk Solids + Butter Fat + Water
Ghee = Butter – Milk Solids – Water
Simply put, ghee is butter with the milk solids and water removed. Meaning, ghee has all of the health benefits of grass-fed butter, but without the lactose and casein.
It’s dairy-free, making it a brilliant option for anyone with allergies, gut issues or vegetarian leanings. AND ghee is shelf stable (meaning you can leave it out on your counter without fear of it going bad)!
Sprouts just released a brand new grass-fed ghee and it is SO delicious, especially in this slow cooker apple crisp recipe.
How to Make Slow Cooker Apple Crisp
Particularly if you are making this apple crisp recipe for Thanksgiving, you likely have a million other things going on that day and the last thing you need is a complicated recipe.
Well fear not, this slow cooker apple crisp couldn't be easier to make! First of all, it requires just 1 pot–your crockpot.
And all you have to do is toss everything in, cover and cook for 3 hours. Done! Call me Ina Garten because how easy is that?
PRO TIP: Cover your crockpot with a dishtowel before you put on the lid–this will ensure your crumble topping stays crispy and doesn't get soggy.
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There's really just two steps to the recipe: make the filling and make the topping.
The crumb topping just gets a quick pulse in the food processor and you're good to go.
How to make gluten free crumble
Because I try to avoid refined flour as much as possible, I love making desserts with a gluten free crumble that's full of healthy fats and fiber.
For this recipe, I went with a mixed nut combo of pecans and walnuts and oats. Add just a little bit of anti-inflammatory cinnamon and a smidgen of organic raw coconut sugar, a low-glycemic sweetener, and you're good to go.
Now, a few disclaimers because I know you're going to ask:
- Oats aren't Paleo and you said this apple crisp recipe was Paleo-friendly. Yes, you're right, I did. All you have to do to make this recipe Paleo is simply swap the oats for flax or chia seeds. It's an easy swap that doesn't affect the flavor much and appeases anyone who follows a strict Paleo diet. I don't, but more power to you, if you do!
- What's the deal with coconut sugar? Isn't it just the same thing as regular sugar? Good news! No. While it is a sweetener, meaning it should be eaten in moderation, coconut sugar is much more nutrient-dense than table and brown sugar. It has impressive amounts of nutrients like zinc and iron, as well as antioxidants and inulin, a type of prebiotic dietary fiber that supports gut health, colon cancer prevention, blood sugar balance, lipid (fat) metabolism, bone mineralization, fatty liver disease, obesity, and immunity. (source) Is it a health food? No, of course not, it's sugar. But it's a healthier sweetener than refined table sugar and that's progress we can celebrate!
Ok, what else do you need to know about this slow cooker apple crisp recipe other than it deserves A BIG SPOT on your Thanksgiving table this year?
Well, one thing I want to mention is that while this recipe is gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, vegetarian and Paleo friendly, I don't consider food to be healthy because of the things it does not contain (though that's part of it).
Instead, I like to look at what nutrition a food DOES contain. And boy does this apple crisp pack a serious nutrient punch. Take a look:
Is apple pie healthy?
We've already talked about the health benefits of grass-fed ghee and the nutritious swaps I used in the crumble topping to make this apple pie healthier.
But what about the dish as a whole? Despite how incredibly delicious this apple crisp is, it's also jam-packed with nutrition:
- 12 grams of fiber per serving: feel full longer and make your digestion smoother
- 28% of the DRV of Magnesium and Phosphorus: lessens anxiety and improves digestion, bone health and aids in detox
- TONS of B vitamins: critical for thyroid health, digestion, metabolism and skin
- Chockfull of Vitamin C (skin-nourishing immune booster) and Potassium (improves heart health, anxiety and stress, muscle strength, metabolism, and electrolytic functions)
It's hard to believe I'm describing a dessert recipe, isn't it?! Thanksgiving is starting to look up, eh?
You can get all of the ingredients you need for this recipe at Sprouts Farmers Market, which specializes in healthy, natural and organic food at affordable prices!
If you try this slow cooker apple crisp recipe, be sure to share a photo and tag me @rootandrevel on social media–I’d LOVE to see how it turned out for you!
Easy Slow Cooker Apple Crisp Recipe (Gluten Free)
For the filling:
- In a large crockpot, combine apples with spices, vinegar and cornstarch. Stir to combine.
- Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine all of the topping ingredients. Pulse until coarsely chopped. You want it to be crumbly and well-mixed, but not too fine. Cover the apple mixture with the crumb topping.
- Place a dishtowel over the top of the crockpot and cover with the lid. Cook on high for 3 hours.
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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