Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Apr 18, 2010 02:00 PM

Fruit it possible to make it healthy?

I made strawberry-rhubarb crisp last night. It was good...sinfully good with all of that butter, sugar, and flour. Are there any healthier ways to prepare a fruit crisp?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I am not sure what you mean by healthy. You can make it with oats and nuts and very little flour, which will reduce carbs, reduce the glycemic index, but increase the fat. Is that healthier? I think of the basic recipe as fruit mixed with sugar, topped with a mixture of sugar, flour/nuts/oats, and butter. You can drastically reduce the added sugar to the fruit, but it's still high sugar if you are watching carbs (e.g. for diabetes). I personally would have a smaller piece rather than get into artificial sweeteners and the like, but it's all preference.

    1. Here are some suggestions:
      1. Use a higher ratio of fruit to topping.
      2. Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour.
      3. Use some rolled oats in place of some of the flour.
      4. Use less sugar than called for (I often find recipes too sweet anyway).
      5. Make cobbler instead of crisp -- it often uses less butter.

      1. We make fruit crisp that is almost 100% fat free-we make a batch of the topping and stick in the fridge and crumble it over fresh fruit and have crisp throughout the week. The topping recipe below probably makes enough to cover a couple of 8*8 pans-but you can even make it in single size serving ramekins-it does have sugar so it is not perfectly healthy but it has no butter and it is still crisp and crunchy.

        Mix in the food processor
        1 cup flour
        1 cup oatmeal
        1 cup brown sugar
        3/4 cup white sugar
        2 eggs
        2 Tablespoons baking powder
        2 Tablespoons cinnamon (optional)

        When it looks a little corn mealy, add about 1/2-1 cup walnuts or pecans and pulse a couple times, Remove and use at once or put in a container in the fridge-I would guesstimate that it will last a week or so.

        When making the crisp, just cut up the fruit of your choice into a oven ready dish, size dependent on amount of fruit. Sometimes we add sugar, honey, raisins OJ , lemon juice or a splash of liqueur-depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Crumble some topping of topping so the fruit is pretty well covered but resist the temptation to pat it down. Bake for about 35 minutes at 325 degrees until it is crisp and golden. Serve warm with frozen yogurt, if desired.

        We have fun trying different combination of fruits (last night was blackberry and strawberry with a sprinkling of sugar). While I don't think this will win any blue ribbons at a country fair, it sure hits the spot around here for an easy crispy and fruity dessert.

        1 Reply
        1. re: margib

          This sounds delicious.... but eggs and nuts are not fat-free. I agree that they're probably healthier for you than butter or shortening, but fat is still fat. That being said, I'm going to give your recipe a try!

        2. What do I mean as healthy? Well, here is a link to the recipe I used last night:

          Delicious, yes...Lots of fat, white sugar, and white flour, yes. I was hoping to figure out how to make an equally delicious crumble/crisp using less butter/sugar/white flour. I love the idea of upping the oatmeal, as it is a flavor that I very much enjoy. What I don't know is how to make something more healthful while preserving the decadence of the dish.

          4 Replies
          1. re: super_b

            Use whole wheat flour, agave nectar instead of white sugar, use half as much butter and sub in the other half with canola oil. It's not going to change your calorie/fat counts, but it will reduce the sugar spike and the sat fats

            1. re: super_b

              Well, you know people have different definitions of "healthy." To a person on Atkins, you can't make healthy fruit crisp. To a person on WW, you might be able to get away with lowfat butter substitute and Splenda. To a person who's gluten-free, it would take some tweaking but the butter and sugar could stay. See what I mean?

              To me, if it's made of food and not processed junk, it's on the healthy continuum. Oats and nuts? Healthy. Raw sugar? OK, healthier than white. Butter? Shoot, it's real food, ain't it? *grins* And you can put wheat germ in the topping which is delicious AND good for you. Heck, you could make it *almost* health food if you subbed ground flax seed for some of the butter! ;)

              IMO, better a decadent fruit crisp (made of real food) than a can of diet coke and a fat-free twinkie!

              1. re: LauraGrace

                <<Raw sugar? OK, healthier than white.>>

                Nah. Sugar is sugar.

                <<agave nectar instead of white sugar>>

                The health claims re agave nectar have been mainly dismissed as hype.
                The fructose/low glycemic claim is especially dubious.

                This Los Angeles Times article says some brands are no better than HFCS:
                "Agave syrup's benefits are in debate":

                Also see:

                1. re: LauraGrace

                  "Well, you know people have different definitions of "healthy." To a person on Atkins, you can't make healthy fruit crisp."

                  I eat very low carb, and I make rhubarb or strawberry rhubarb crisp. I sweeten with a combination of erythritol and liquid sucralose, thicken with xanthan gum and I make a topping from almond flour, chopped pecans, a little white carbalose flour, cinnamon, Diabetisweet brown sugar substitute, and dot with butter before baking.

              2. Moosewood Low Fat favourites has two variations I believe - one relies on egg whites and the other uses crushed gingersnaps. If lower fat is what you had in mind I can probably paraphrase from the cookbook for you. I have not tried either.

                1 Reply
                1. re: julesrules

                  This qualifies as healthy for me, because I'm most concerned with heart health. So the fact that there is no butter is key - although it's not that light on sugar. I wonder why people eat all that butter when crisp is great without it. You don't want to end up like me with a stent in your artery! Recipe is below and on

                  Apple crisp

                  Preheat the oven to 350. Mix together in a bowl:

                  2 ½ lbs. apples (about 7), peeled and thinly sliced
                  3 T sugar
                  3 T brown sugar
                  2 t. cornstarch, dissolved in 3 T. water
                  ¼ t. cinnamon
                  1/8 t. freshly grated nutmeg
                  1/8 t. cloves
                  2 t. lemon juice

                  In another bowl, mix together:

                  1 c. rolled oats (old fashioned, not quick cooking
                  )1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
                  1 c. light brown sugar
                  ½ c. chopped walnuts
                  ½ t. baking powder
                  ½ t. cinnamon
                  ¼ t. salt
                  Drizzle ¼ c. organic canola oil over the dry mixture and combine with your fingers until crumbly. Then, quickly mix in 2 T of water.

                  Put the apple mixture in an 8×8” glass baking dish, then sprinkle on the crumbly topping. This recipe makes quite a lot of topping, so you may want to hold some back … unless you’re a topping freak (I know a few of those.)

                  Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden and the apples are tender.