Blackberry, Walnut & Apple Crumble

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It’s been rainy and grey in England for the last couple of days, and so I thought it was time for some warming pud. Crumble is one of the best, and one we Brits can actually claim is ours – a bowl of crispy, crumbly topping over fruit with thick homemade custard is hard to beat. Blackberry and apple crumble is an autumn classic, and I can’t think of a more delicious thing to make with the abundance of brambles and apples which are both now in season. However, giving it a bit of a tweak, I’ve added walnuts, mixed spice and hazelnut oil to create a rich, piquant flavour.

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Brambles’ dark, inky colour means they have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruit. They’re also rich in fibre and contain a healthy dose of vitamin K, which benefits your bones by activating proteins needed to deposit new bone mineral tissue. This crumble tastes so great and you really won’t miss the butter and sugar content of the standard mix – trust me! Even better: it’s pretty good for you, from the anti-inflammatory benefits of coconut oil, to the ability of walnuts to help lower LDL cholesterol (‘bad’) and increase HDL cholesterol (‘good’) levels in the blood.

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Our apple tree is still being its nutty self, producing loads of apples, whilst also inexplicably deciding to sprout a blossom flower, at the end of August. Over the past week I’ve been out walking, picking basketfuls of blackberries from hedgerows and overgrown wild patches at the edge of fields, getting pricked and scratched in the process, but it’s so worth it. Blackberries are the easiest thing to forage, and they’re probably the most familiar to everyone’s eyes, so there’s no excuse not to get out there and harvest. If you start looking close enough they’re everywhere, always a treat to pop into your mouth as you pass by a bush. There’s something so calming, so satisfying about growing, gathering and picking your own food, and best of all you know exactly what it is and where it’s come from. There’s nothing better than that!

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Serves 4-6

For the crumble topping:

  • ⅔ cup of brown rice flour
  • ½ cup of porridge oats
  • ½ cup of jumbo oats
  • ½ cup of walnuts
  • ¼ cup of ground almonds
  • 2 teaspoons of mixed spice
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1½ tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons of hazelnut oil
  • 4 tablespoons of date syrup (or raw honey, maple syrup or agave nectar)

For the fruit:

  • 8 small apples (or 4 large cooking apples)
  • 1½ cups of blackberries
  • (Optional: 1 tablespoon of honey)

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Pre-heat your oven to 180°C. To make the crumble layer first crush the walnuts into little pieces in a pestle and mortar (or give them a whizz in a blender), then place them in a mixing bowl along with all of the dry ingredients and stir well. Next put the coconut oil, hazelnut oil and date syrup into a saucepan and gently heat until the coconut oil has melted and they have all combined. Mix this liquid into the dry ingredients, stirring to make little clumps of the oaty, crumbly mixture.

Peel and core the apples, chopping into 1 inch sized pieces. If using honey, mix the apple together with the blackberries and honey in a separate bowl before pouring into an ovenproof dish and spreading evenly. Sprinkle the crumble layer on top and then bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the top goes golden brown. Stick a knife in to make sure the apple has softened (if not cook for a further 5-10 minutes), then serve and munch.

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Apple, Cucumber, Lime & Mint Juice (aka Healthy Mojito)

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Our apple tree has always been a bit of an unreliable, fickle thing. Some years it produces one apple, some years none, and then this year it goes and surprises us by sprouting loads of little green balls, and early in the season too. These apples are great for stewing or for apple crumble, but I just love them in a juice. They’re about the freshest thing I can get my hands on, with the tree just a few steps from our kitchen door, and when you drink this garden apple nectar and compare it to the fake, artificial, sugar-filled juice you find in the supermarket, you realise it is real juice.

The combination of apple with the other flavours is amazing. I used to love mojitos – the mixture of lime, mint and sugar is a real taste explosion in the mouth. So sweet, so zesty. But since giving up alcohol and refined sugar sipping on a cocktail isn’t something I like to do. However, this doesn’t matter in the least because this juice tastes like the real thing and, what’s more, is bursting with nutrients.

Juicing is so good for you because the vegetable and fruit liquid basically bypasses your digestive system, and the nutrients are absorbed straight into your cells. There are so many antioxidants and vitamins in just one glass of this juice, giving you an energy boost without overloading your body with too much sugar, thanks to the cucumber, broccoli and spinach. The mint (freshly picked from my garden) adds further nourishment and goodness to the juice through its ability to promote digestion, soothe and alleviate inflammation, cleanse the skin and stave off fatigue as a natural stimulant. All blended together, this really tastes divine and leaves you feeling invigorated and uplifted – so get juicing!

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Makes 1 large glass:

  • 2 medium-sized apples
  • 4 inch piece of cucumber
  • 1 green broccoli stem
  • A handful of spinach
  • Half a lime
  • A good handful of mint leaves

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Put all the ingredients into the juicer and flip the switch. Be sure to squash the spinach and mint leaves between the apples, cucumber or broccoli so they juice well and the flavours really come out. Pour the liquid into a glass with a couple of ice cubes and sip on a sunny afternoon!

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