Gluten free Cinnamon Apple and Pecan Bake!? You bet! Baked apples are a classic dessert but this version is sweeter (and more nutritious) because we added pecans.
This minimalist recipe is low in sugar, full of nutty flavor, and packs a major crunch. It contains a handful of ingredients and comes together in just under an hour.
Typically baked apples are made with lots of flour and sugar – but they certainly don’t need to be! Apples are sweet and delicious on their own and should shine alone occasionally!
I love the health benefits of apples because they are high in fiber, vitamin C, and various antioxidants. They can also be quite filling, considering their low calorie count. Studies show that eating apples can have multiple benefits for your health such as boosting digestive function, managing blood sugar, and protecting your lungs from oxidative damage.
A large study in more than 68,000 women found that those who ate the most apples had the lowest risk of asthma. Eating about 15% of a large apple per day was linked to a 10% lower risk of this condition (1)
Ingredients for This Yummy Cinnamon Apple and Pecan Bake
For this recipe I chose a naturally sweet apple in order to avoid adding a lot of maple syrup into the recipe. I used Gala apples but McIntosh, Cox, or Golden Delicious will work well also. Here is your grocery shopping list:
Maple syrup – Maple syrup nutrition is impressive because it provides us with protective antioxidants. The medical journal Pharmaceutical Biology revealed that pure maple syrup contains up to 24 different antioxidants. Antioxidants, in the form of phenolic compounds, are beneficial for reducing free radical damage that can cause inflammation and contribute to the formation of various chronic diseases.
Tip: Whenever possible, select darker, grade B maple syrups since these contain more beneficial antioxidants than the lighter syrups do.
Coconut oil – Coconut oil is widely known as a “superfood”. The beautiful combination of fatty acids in coconut oil may have positive effects on your health, such as increasing fat loss, boosting brain function, and preventing heart disease.
Arrowroot or corn starch – this gluten free, high protein, substitution for flour has been shown to promote weight loss and stimulate your immune system. Arrowroot is also gentle on the stomach because it is easy to digest, making it ideal for children and older adults who may need gentler food.
Apples – As mentioned above, I like Gala because they are sweet and abundant in my area, but using any naturally sweet apple will work just fine.
Canned full fat coconut milk – Coconut milk is a high-calorie food. About 93% of its calories come from fat, including saturated fats known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
Unsweetened applesauce – Applesauce contains antioxidants called phytochemicals. These antioxidants may help to reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. If you’re feeling super motived..skip the grocery store and make your own.
Chia seeds – Don’t be fooled by the chia’s size — these tiny seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch. A one-ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains Fiber: 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 5 grams of fats from Omega-3’s, 30% of your magnesium RDI, and 27% of your phosphorus RDI.
Barney’s Unsweetened unsalted almond butter – I like almond butter because it is low in carbs and high in healthy fats. Also, my daughter has a severe peanut allergy so it’s best that I don’t kill her (hehe). You can sub peanut or sunflower butter also.
Vanilla extract – Vanilla extract is life. It really takes this apple and pecan bake recipe from good to great. We suggest splurging on a high quality pure vanilla extract. You won’t regret it.
Ground cinnamon – oh, cinnamon. How I love you. It’s also a very popular stripper name. Cinnamon is thought to have many medicinal and soothing properties, and is used frequently in Chinese herbal medicine. The distinctive smell and flavor of cinnamon comes from the oils contained in tree bark, called cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamon also contains large amounts of polyphenol antioxidants which helps to calm inflammation.
Oats – Oats are considered one the healthiest grains on earth. They’re a gluten-free whole grain and a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Studies show that oats and oatmeal have many health benefits including weight loss, blood sugar management, and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Pecans – Raw pecans contain large quantities (for their size) of protein and contain healthy fats and fiber that can help keep you energized and full. Pecans are a good source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which help lower blood pressure. Most of the fat found in pecans is monounsaturated fat, aka the good fat. You can always sub almonds walnuts in the recipe.
Here are a few tips to help you create the perfect crumble:⠀
1. Mix the dry ingredients then cut the butter into pieces and work it into the mixed ingredients with your fingers gently until it resembles coarse crumbs.
2. Depending on the season, try switching up your ingredients depending on the fruit underneath. Apples in the fall? Add plenty of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Fresh spring berries? Just a hint of ginger or a touch of vanilla. You can mix in nuts, or not. You can add dried herbs or fresh mint. The options are endless.
3. And lastly, keep a batch of the unbaked mixture in the freezer in case of dessert emergencies.