A fruitful, health-conscious dessert | VailDaily.com

A fruitful, health-conscious dessert

Vera Dawson
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.

Warm blueberries, crisp oat topping and vanilla ice cream… these are tastes and textures with universal appeal. Do you know anyone who would refuse this combination? I don’t.

Its widespread charm should stir a wave of patriotism, for this pleasing little offering is hard-core Americana. Crisps date back to the 19th century when our forefathers (or, perhaps I should say foremothers) put together desserts from what they had in their pantries and could pick from nearby groves or gardens.

By definition, crisps are a mixture of baked fruit under a crust-like topping. I’ve never had one I didn’t like, but I’m drawn to this particular version for several reasons that go beyond its appealing taste: It comes together so quickly that it can be served as the ending to a week-night meal, it’s made with frozen berries, so I can bake it during any season of the year, and it’s a healthy, guilt-free dessert. The topping, made with canola oil instead of butter or margarine, combines oatmeal, whole wheat flour, and a few nuts ” nothing to worry about in these ingredients.

So, relax, enjoy this Healthy Blueberry Crisp, and give special thanks to the ingenuity of our great-great-grandmothers.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Healthy Blueberry Crisp

Serves 4

Make in four 6-ounce ramekins



1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of old fashioned rolled oats (don’t use instant)

1/4 cup of pecans, chopped medium

2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of flour (I use whole wheat flour)

1/4 scant (slightly less than) teaspoon of cinnamon

2 tablespoons of canola oil


2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of sugar

1 tablespoon of flour (I use whole wheat flour)

1 tablespoon of orange juice

2 1/2 cups of frozen blueberries

Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt

Step One: Preheat the oven to 400-degrees with a rack in the center position.

Step Two: Make the topping: In a medium bowl, combine the rolled oats, chopped pecans, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Mix them with a whisk or spoon until they are well blended. Drizzle the canola oil over the mixture and stir or toss (I toss with my hands) until they are evenly moistened. Set the topping aside.

Step Three: Prepare the berries: In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and flour and stir until blended. Add the orange juice and frozen blueberries (don’t defrost them) and toss until all are evenly coated. Divide them among the four ramekins. There’s no need to grease the ramekins.

Step Four: Top the berries in each ramekin with about one-fourth of the topping. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the tops are golden and the berries are bubbling. This takes about 25 minutes in my oven. If the topping has turned golden but the berries are not yet bubbling, place a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over the top of the ramekins until the berries are ready.

Step Five: Remove the ramekins from the oven to a cooling rack and let them rest at least ten minutes before serving. If you don’t want to serve them right away, you can cool them completely and then reheat them in a 325-degree oven until they are warm to the touch. Serve them warm with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt scooped over the top.

This recipe was inspired by one found in Eating Well.

Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact Dawson with your comments about this column and/or your baking questions at veradawson@aol.com.

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