When I applied for graduate chemistry programs, every school that accepted me also mailed me an invitation to an all-expenses-paid visitation weekend with the other prospective students. I’d hop on a plane, stay in a hotel, tour the campus, meet with various faculty pursuing interesting research, and finally head to a fancy wine-and-dine session at an upscale restaurant in town.
Although not quite as glamorous because I already knew almost everything about the department, I also attended the visitation weekend hosted by my undergraduate university. I mainly treated it as a point of comparison for the other schools, so I skipped the tours but still met everyone downtown for dinner to socialize with the other potential incoming students.
I was assigned a seat at a table with two of my professors, along with multiple twenty-somethings my age, where we tried to make pleasant conversation to the best of our abilities. That’s hard with a table full of introverts and complete strangers! Everyone breathed an unconscious sigh of relief when the food trickled in—finally, an easy distraction!
Towards the end of the evening, one of the well-known faculty members stood up to present the keynote talk right as the waiters slid plates of dessert in front of us. I wanted to make a good impression and pay attention… But I really love dessert! So I picked up my spoon and dug into the berry crumble à la mode.
The vanilla ice cream immediately melted into the warm streusel topping, settling into the cracks and surrounding each bite of fruit with rich cream. Honestly, I barely remember that presentation—something about radioactive markers, perhaps?—but from then on, I realized just how much I adore fruit crumbles!
So with my freezer full of berries, I decided to bake my own… With a little twist. This Clean Almond Berry Crumble, full of juicy summer flavors, contains NO refined flour or refined sugar! Entirely clean-eating, with gluten-free and vegan options too, this skinny dessert is certainly a sweet and healthy way to end any meal.
I started my easy crumble with frozen fruit. When it comes to berries, I’d much rather save the fresh for snacking and bake with frozen instead because frozen is cheaper and available all year round. For this particular crumble, I used Trader Joe’s Fancy Berry Medley, a combination of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Toss those with a little almond extract (my favorite baking flavor!) and cornstarch to thicken their juices, and that’s all there is to it!
Now for the streusel… The thicker, the better in my opinion! It’s my favorite part, so I always save the bite with the most streusel for last. This particular topping is purely clean-eating and spiced with a hint of cinnamon—just enough to perfume your kitchen and fill the house with its warm smell.
To make things even easier, I used melted butter. Many crumble recipes call for cutting chilled butter into the oats, but that requires a lot more effort than simply stirring in a liquid. This method works just as well and saves a lot of time! Because of the melted butter and agave, this crumble topping is slightly wetter than your typical ones, so it may stick to your fingers a little more when you sprinkle it over the fruit.
To really help the fruit juices thicken, it’s important to chill the crumble after it cools to room temperature. If left on the counter, the juices stay liquidy. The dessert still tastes the same! The slices just won’t hold together as well when you scoop them out of the pan to serve.
With its sweet summer fruit and cinnamon crumb topping, this Clean Almond Berry Crumble tastes every bit as satisfying as the traditional ones made with an entire cup of butter. But with its minimal sugar and tons of fruit, this one is practically healthy enough to eat for breakfast!
So that’s exactly what I did.