September is one of my favorite months: the transition of summer to fall, when it smells of new beginnings and spiced apples. I remember when I was younger, growing up in Alabama, September was the start to a new school year, a new football season, riding around to country music and the leaves turning a golden yellow. However, now that I live in Canada, that idyllic picture has changed a bit. Instead of football, hockey is all the rage (nothing wrong with that!) and instead of the leaves turning to an orange and yellow hue, sometimes the green grass goes straight to a snowy white, just as it has this week. When the first snow falls, it is always so beautiful and peaceful. Everything seems to go quiet and you can almost hear the snowflakes fall upon the ground: a perfect time for reflection and inner calm. Then you endure 6+ months of it, the temperature drops to -35 and you wish it had never started! But, lets not focus on the negative here…its still September, the snow is new and fresh and there is still a possibility of watching the leaves turn those magnificent fall colors once the snow melts!
During these fall days, baking always begins to creep into my thoughts; something to warm the house and the soul. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to ease into my fall baking than an easy autumn berry and plum crumble. Even though we have had 2 days of snow in Calgary, the farmers markets are still supplying all the amazing fall produce, so I stocked up on berries and stone fruit and got to work. Like I have said before, I’m not a great baker. Normally, baking involves precise measurements and almost scientific reasons for doing what your doing. However, a crumble is a no-fail baking dream. It is so easy, I can do it without screwing it up! Serve it with plain yogurt for breakfast or, my favorite, vegan gelato for dessert. (If you can, seek out Screaming Brothers Ice Cream! Its the best and only 4-6 ingredients: coconut milk, honey, vanilla, raw cacao, ect).
Berries are rich in antioxidants; little molecules that help combat free-radical damage in the body. Free-radical damage can be caused by many things such as smoking, pesticides, radiation, household chemicals, microwave use and pollution. Free radicals attack healthy cells in our body, depressing our immune system and causing damage to arteries that can lead to heart disease. Free radicals also cause mutations in cells, an inability to absorb nutrients, premature aging and the inability to fight off disease. Free radical damage has been linked to almost all chronic illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease. So what can we do to fight off free radical damage?! Number 1 is to avoid free radical damage in the first place! Choose organic when possible (go with animal products like milk and eggs and the dirty dozen produce list to start), replace all your household cleaning products with natural products, nix your microwave use (it basically takes all the nutrients out of your food anyway!) and seek clean air when you can. Number 2 would be eat as many organic fruits and vegetables as possible because they are all filled with phytochemicals and antioxidants to help combat these nasty free radicals! Antioxidants are categorized as vitamins A, C, E and the minerals selenium and zinc. I don’t want to get into the lengthy discussion of how phytochemicals are categorized in different plants…so just eat plants! You can’t go wrong!
Its information like this that makes the saying “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ring even more true!
- 3 cups mixed berries
- 1 plum, chopped
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/8 tsp orange zest (6 grates with a microplane)
- 1/8 tsp vanilla powder
- 6 dates
- ½ cup oats
- ½ cup mixed nuts (I used pistachios and walnuts)
- 1 cup almond flour/meal
- ½ cup oats
- ¼ cup shredded coconut
- 2 tsp ginger powder
- ¾ tsp vanilla powder
- 3 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 3 ½ Tablespoons maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a 9-inch round pie dish, mix together all the filling ingredients. If you have a deep pie dish, you may need to use more filling. Ensure your filling covers the pie dish plus another "layer".
- In a food processor, chop the dates until they are in very small pieces. Add 1/2 cup oats and nuts to the food processor and pulse together until the nuts are in very small chunks. Transfer to a bowl and add almond flour, the other 1/2 cup of oats, shredded coconut, ginger powder and vanilla powder. Stir well to combine. Add the melted coconut oil and maple syrup; stir and "mash" with your hands. Transfer to the pie dish and layer on top of the berries.
- Bake at 350 for approximately 35 minutes or until the berry juice starts to bubble over the sides.