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If your family holiday gatherings are like mine, you probably find yourself in front of an array of 14 different desserts at the end of the evening, with only your post-feast judgment and altered self-restraint on your side.

There arises an overwhpear apple crisp 3elming need to sample each dessert, perhaps followed by an official serving of your favorite…or two favorites. Typically this results in immediate regret with a stomachache, and additional long-term regret, having consumed those extra calories. 

In an attempt to lessen the blow of these holiday dessert demons, I’d like to share a sugar-free recipe that won’t leave you with that “Why did I do it?” feeling — especially if you skip the other 13 dessert options.

I know the term “sugar-free” typically equates to a bland wannabe, or to an artificially sweetened diet soda, but this recipe calls for the natural sugar in fruit that, when baked, is nearly as delicious as brown sugar in melted butter. (Note: Eating large amounts of brown sugar in melted butter is not recommended. TRUST ME.) Below is the quick and simple recipe:

  Pear-Apple Crisp (5 servings)

pear apple crisp 22 medium pears and 2 medium apples, diced (about 4 cups, total);  1/2 teaspoon lemon zest;  1/2 tablespoon lemon juice;     1/3 cup flax seed meal;  4 dried dates, pitted;  1/4 teaspoon cinnamon;  1/8 teaspoon nutmeg;  1/8 teaspoon salt;  1 tablespoon coconut oil;  1/4 cup chopped walnuts

 -Preheat oven to 350o F.

-Mix pears, apples, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a bowl. Set aside while you prepare the topping.

-Place flax seed meal, dates, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut oil, and salt in a food processor, if one is handy, and “pulse” mix for 10 to 20 seconds, until there are no lumps. I don’t have a food processor, so I just chop up the dates into little bitty pieces and mix everything together.

-Pour the flax seed and date mixture into a bowl, and mix in the walnuts.

-In an 8 or 9-inch baking dish, pour the fruit and sprinkle the topping mixture over the top.

-Cover lightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

-Remove foil and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

If you prefer not to purchase coconut oil and heart-healthy flax seed meal, substitute butter (1 tablespoon) and flour (1/3 cup) — although coconut oil and flax seed meal come in handy for other healthy recipes. Also, this recipe is versatile; you can use just pears or apples, peaches, make a peach-apple combo, or some sort of berry mixture. Whichever types of fruits you choose, you’re sure to enjoy and still feel good after eating!    

 pear apple crisp 1

Per serving nutrition information (approximate)  


Fat (g)

Carbohydrate (g)

Protein (g)

Fiber (g)






 *Contains no added processed sugar.  



Written By:

an epidemiologist with the Department of Public Health

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