This Grain Free Apple and Cranberry Crisp was inspired by a little weekend jaunt my husband and I took to the San Juan Islands a couple of weeks ago. Lopez Island specifically, is where we went. We have lived in WA for just about four years and while we have traveled all around the Pacific Northwest since moving here, we had yet to make it to the San Juan Islands.
I wish we wouldn’t have waited so long.
I was invited to travel to Lopez Island for a weekend in October during “Savor The San Juan’s”. A huge thank you to the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau for the generous invitation! We went the first weekend in October so we could attend the Lopez Island Three Farm Tour and learn more about the agriculture of the Island.
We stayed at the MacKaye Harbor Inn which is a very well-maintained and welcoming Bed and Breakfast on the quietest spot on the Island. Not sure how much of this Island is noisy but when we strolled the very typical pebble, clam and driftwood scattered beach right out front of the Inn, we remarked that we could not hear anything other than the sound of bubbles popping on the water.
What an enlightening trip! It turns out that Lopez Island is a gem. This little Island is unbelievably rich in sustainable agriculture. Local farmers are producing everything from organic vegetables to heritage beef, pork, pastured chickens, turkeys, farm eggs and both cow and goat milk products. They even have a local seed library!
Our farm tour started at Midnight Farm which also is the home of The Barn Owl Bakery. This little one room bakery with solar panels produces some of the highest quality and most delicious bread I’ve ever had. All of it is baked in a wood-fired oven, organic and wild-leavened (even the gluten-free options). They use as many local products as possible, even sourcing some of their wheat right from small farms on the Island. That means that the oganic heirloom wheat is grown and milled right on Lopez and never leaves the island before it is turned into bread at Barn Owl. I pretty much avoid gluten at all costs but since I do not have Celiac Disease and they are exclusively using high quality heirloom grains combined with wild leavening (easier to digest), I decided to go ahead and try some of their breads. I couldn’t believe it hours later I still had no reaction – at all. I have gotten accustomed to instantaneous headaches and belly aches whenever I eat gluten, so this was so refreshing.
My other favorite stop along the farm tour was Sunnyfield Farm, an absolutely beautifully restored family farm with orchards, gardens and a goat dairy. We had a casual homemade lunch made with ingredients from all of the farms on the tour and then had a tasting of some of their goat cheese products as well as the many varieties of apples that they grow in their orchards. Elizabeth, one of the farmers, had put out bushels of organic apples, full of varieties I’d never heard of and encouraged me to fill a shopping bag as high and heavy as I could and toss a donation in the glass jar.
I immediately thought of how excited my son would be with me bringing home a huge bag of local, organic apples. He has been reading a book on apples and recently asked me if we could make some type of baked apple dessert together. I knew exactly what these apples were destined to become – this crisp – and couldn’t wait to get home and surprise my little guy!
We did a lot of exploring on our own and if and when you make your way to Lopez Island, I highly recommend you stop by Horse Drawn Farm’s Farm-stand. This is unlike any farm-stand I’ve ever seen before, with coolers and cases filled to the brim with local vegetables, herbs, grains, eggs, meats, flowers and more
We also stocked up on goodies at the Blossom Grocery, which was just about the most fabulous little town store. We joked that they were stocked with items we can’t even get in Seattle. In some ways, Lopez is even more progressive, with a highlight on sustainability, local food and environmental stewardship. It’s pretty idyllic.
My husband fell in love and very seriously wants to buy a piece of land there. I told him we have to go visit Orcas Island and San Juan Island first!
- A tart apple like Granny Smith will work best but use any combination of organic apples you want!
- Be careful when buying dried cranberries. Many brands are loaded with preservatives, an obscene amount of sugar and some even have food coloring. If you live near a Trader Joe’s, they have an Organic option that is lightly sweetened and has a bit of Sunflower Oil for $2.99 a bag. If not, I recommend trying the bulk section of your natural foods store. If neither of those options work, leave them out or substitute raisins.
- ALTERNATE TOPPING METHOD: The first couple of times I made this, I used coconut palm sugar in place of the maple syrup for the topping. This is also very delicious and yields a more crumbly topping. I prefer the sticky, crust-like topping that is shown in the photos (with the maple syrup) but if you prefer more of a crumble, substitute the maple syrup with 2 T coconut palm sugar. Sprinkle on and reduce baking time by 10 minutes. This is what the more crumbly topping looks like:
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Grain Free Apple and Cranberry Crisp
- 3 pounds assorted tart apples see NOTES, cleaned, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4" chunks
- 1/2 Tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar + splash for soaking
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 to 4 Tablespoons coconut palm sugar depending on sweetness of apples
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
- 1/4 cup organic lightly sweetened dried cranberries (or raisins) see NOTES
- 1 1/4 cups toasted slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
- 2 Tablespoons ground golden flax seeds
- 1/4 cup butter + 1 pat for greasing
- 2 Tablespoons pure Maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a small, shallow, rectangular baking dish with a pat of butter. I used an
- Fill a large bowl with cold water and a splash of apple cider vinegar. As you peel the apples, place them in the bowl of water so they don't turn brown.
Once all of the apples are peeled, use an
Drain apples from soaking water and toss with other filling ingredients until well coated. Gently stir in cranberries.
- Pour into greased baking dish and begin preparing the topping.
Combine slivered almonds, almond flour, ground flax, butter, maple syrup, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.
Pulse a couple of times until topping mixture is crumbly. Don't over-process as you want the topping to have some texture.
Use a spoon or spatula to cover apple mixture until all of the topping is used and as evenly spread out as possible.
- Place on the center rack and bake for 75 minutes or until topping is golden brown and has crispy edges. Serve warm with some coconut whipped cream or regular whipped cream and Enjoy!