GUYSSSSSSSS. It’s berry season! Flowers are blooming, birds are nesting, and berries are ripening! Ahh there is seriously nothing better in my book. We have a tiny strawberry patch in my little city backyard, and those are the juiciest, sweetest berries, but we never get enough to do a whole lot. This then leads me to buying unreasonable amounts of fresh strawberries and blueberries at my local farmers market. And while I seriously believe I can eat 200 strawberries before they go bad, alas, I cannot.
Do you freeze your produce as it starts to get a little ugly looking? We try very hard to be a no waste household, so we try to cook down or freeze things we can’t get to right away. Whatever we don’t eat in the first week after purchasing, usually gets saved for later in the freezer and tossed into smoothies or used for desserts like this where it doesn’t have to look particularly beautiful. See ugly frozen strawberries below. We rarely finish a loaf of homemade bread before it starts to get stale, so I always put a piece or two from each loaf into my mystery freezer bread pouch for easy pickins later. Check out my Pinterest page if you’re interested in more sustainability ideas and recipes to help cut down on food waste.
This strawberry crumble is my go to easy spring time dessert, or realistically, even breakfast because It’s seasonal, healthy, and protein packed thanks to chia seeds. And, uh, can we talk about chia seeds for a minute? Yes, they’re the same ch-ch-chia seeds from Chia Pets back in the day. Who would’ve thought those tiny seeds would’ve had such a glow up? These tiny beauties are vegan powerhouses. They’re low in calories, and have tons of fiber, protein, unsaturated fat, and even calcium, which is super important in a vegan diet since you might not be getting enough if you’re skipping the dairy. The fiber in the chia seeds also helps you to stay full longer and regulates blood sugar. Man what can’t these babies do? For some extra geeky detail about the health benefits of chia seeds, check out this Harvard article that goes in depth about everything from essential acids, to cholesterol.
Cut tops off of strawberries, then cut in half, and place in a medium size sauce pan on medium heat with 2 tsp sugar. If using frozen strawberries, no need to add water because the ice will melt an create liquid; if using fresh, add in 1/2 cup water to help the berries cook. As these start to heat up, mash your berries in the pot with a fork or potato masher to desired consistency. If you like some texture, chunks of berries can be left in the jam mixture.
If you have chia seeds, stir them in to help the jam thicken. If you don’t have any, no worries. Just add in a binding agent like arrow root powder, cornstarch, or, you can even use a few extra teaspoons of sugar since this is a relatively tart dessert. Skip this step for a thinner strawberry consistency if you prefer it a little runnier.
Next you can get started on your crust. Simply mix your oats, almond or wheat flour, applesauce, maple syrup (or 2 tbs sugar), and salt in a food processor or with a hand mixer. See substitutions if section below if you don’t have applesauce. Scoop this mixture into a 7×9″ baking dish. I generally just spritz mine with a touch of olive oil, as it’s less wasteful, but for the sake of photos, I used a paper liner for this one. Once your mixture is scooped in, pat down firmly to flatten out the crust. Bake at 350° in a preheated oven for 10 minutes or until your finger does not leave a dent if poked.
While this is baking, make your crumble topping. Warm vegan butter in the microwave for 15 seconds until it’s mostly melty. You could also heat it on the stove top in a sauce pot, or, my favorite trick, simply place in glass/ceramic bowl on top of oven while crust is baking, and it’ll just melt while your crust is baking. Then stir in oats, flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Be careful not to over mix so you can have big hunks of crumbly topping for added texture.
Once the crust has a golden hue, it’s fully baked. Remove from the oven and add your strawberry filling. and sprinkle on the crumble topping. You can also add a little sugar to the top for texture if you like, and then bake for 10 additional minutes at 350°.
Substitute jam from a jar if you do not have fresh berries.
This would be good with just about any fruit. I like blueberries, peaches, and even combinations like apple raspberry. The process is the same for boiling down with water and adding sugar and chia seeds if available.
If you don’t have applesauce, you can boil a few apples and mash to make your own or sub something more readily available to bind the crust together. You can use 1/2 cup oil, 1/3 cup of yogurt, 1/2 cup mashed banana or cooked sweet potato.
These can be stored in an airtight container for up for five days. You can also cut ahead of time and add to your freezer stash. They’re even delicious frozen with a scoop of vegan ice cream or yogurt.