Every once in a while, you stumble upon a winning recipe that is both healthy (no refined sugar, dairy-free, gluten-free, high-protein) and delicious. This one happens to be super versatile as well. I put this crumble topping on muffins that are in need of some wow factor, on cakes that I want to add texture to, and of course on top of fruit for crumbles.

I think it works because crumble toppings are a lot like granola, and the ingredients in this topping are very much like that. I combined almond flour and flax to give the topping a nutty flavor. I added unsweetened coconut and oats for a crunchy texture. And I needed all this texture because I knew from the get-go that I didn’t want to use refined sugar in this recipe. I was going to go with brown rice syrup, which would add a lot of moisture that a crumble topping might not normally have. I was also going to go with a butter substitute, which also usually has more water content that butter does. And because I find that butter substitutes usually are more salty, I left out the salt.

I wanted to just talk briefly about brown rice syrup. So this sweetener does have a high glycemic index (98) and nutritionally, it doesn’t outwardly seem like it’s far superior to other types of sweeteners. However, from all the research I’ve done, it seems that although brown rice syrup does raise the blood sugar levels, because it is a complex sugar, it digests slowly in the body so that you don’t have that crash and your energy levels remain consistent. It’s the spikes and crashes that wreck your metabolism and causes the liver to store additional sugars in your blood as fat. Also though, brown rice syrup is fructose free, which seems to be the bad sugar at the moment because of its effects on the liver.

But I’m not a dietician. I do my research and on the whole, I find myself feeling a whole lot better eating foods sweetened with brown rice syrup as opposed to sugar – though always keep in mind that no matter how “healthy” a sweetener, sweets should always be eaten in moderation. (Sad truth, I know.)

Tips for the recipe:

  • Let the topping sit either in a cool spot or refrigerator for about an hour before using. It does look liquidy from the get-go, but once the ingredients have time to absorb the liquid from the “butter” and syrup, it will thicken up.
  • Also, this crumble can also be frozen for later use, so making a larger batch would not be a bad idea.

Directions

1. Combine almond flour, flax seeds, coconut, oats and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in another bowl, combine the brown rice syrup and butter substitute. Put this mixture in the microwave for 15 seconds. Stir together till combined.

3. Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and combine until the flour absorbs all the liquid. Freeze or refrigerate for 1 hour before using.

Ingredients

(Makes topping for a 12-inch pie)

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/3 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/3 cup flax, ground
  • 2/3 cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons Earth Balance Butter