chia, apple, crisp, baked, yogurt, greek, honey

Healthy Thanksgiving Hack: Chia Crisp

Use the seeds instead of flour to thicken dessert fillings.

With the holidays come indulgences, but that doesn't mean you can't fit in quick workouts and make healthier versions of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes. In this series, Julia Heffelfinger, a Denver-based recipe developer, shares culinary tips for reinventing classic comfort foods. Previously, she showed us how to use garlic confit instead of butter for creamy mashed potatoes. This week: how to reinvent a classic American dessert.

"Instead of thickening your apple crisp with flour, try tossing the fruit with omega 3-rich chia seeds, which absorb the apples' juices. This helps thicken the filling while simultaneously adding more fiber and protein," says Heffelfinger. It's an especially great option if you are following a gluten-free diet and looking for an alternative to a traditional pie, she notes. "You can also try the technique with pears or cranberries this winter and then test it out on tender berries and stone fruit in the summer."

Pro tip: Use more than one variety of apple. "I like tart Granny Smiths with a slightly sweeter one such as Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious. These apples also hold their shape well, so you won’t be left with a bland, mealy filling," says Heffelfinger.

Apple-Chia Crisp with Salted Maple Yogurt

Serves 10 to 12

For the crumble

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • ¾ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ cup roasted salted pepitas
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling

  • 5 Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the yogurt

  • 1½ cups unsweetened coconut or Greek yogurt
  • 1½ tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

For the crumble

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, fold all of the ingredients together until evenly moistened. Refrigerate while you make your filling.

For the filling

  1. In a large bowl, toss all of the ingredients together. Scrape the filling into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Remove the crumble from the refrigerator and break it up into small clumps. If it’s too firm, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes. Scatter the crumble over the apples. Set the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until the filling is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Transfer the apple crisp to a cooling rack.

For the yogurt

  1. In a small bowl, whisk all of the ingredients together until smooth. 

To Serve

  1. Serve the apple crisp warm or at room temperature, passing the yogurt at the table.