Healthy Fall Baking with Crystal Civil

Cooler weather brings plenty of changes—to our hair and skin routines, wardrobes, and even cravings. While salads and smoothies might hit the spot when temps are scorching, there’s something about fall that calls for cozy, warming dishes. (You know, the kind best eaten curled up on the couch while the scent of nutmeg lingers in the air.) Enter Crystal Civil: Moroccanoil Executive Assistant & Office Manager who also happens to be a trained Pastry Chef. Read on for two gluten-free, refined sugar-free recipes of her own creation.

Crystal Civl Moroccanoil

Fall and winter are not my favorite seasons because of the cooler weather here in NYC, but I definitely love it for baking. During this time of year, baking brings a sense of comfort, warmth, and love that is unexplainably fulfilling to me. Within the last year or so, I’ve made major changes to my diet to improve my health by eating cleaner. Although it has been difficult to stay consistent during this pandemic, I am glad I’ve been able to add more wholesome and fulfilling recipes to my collection. 

Many people do not know I am a Pastry Chef, and I graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC. I’ve been baking since I was a little girl, back when the Easy Bake Oven was trendy in the 90s, and I do not plan on stopping. I love dreaming up recipes because it gives me the opportunity to experiment, be creative, and have fun with food. Below are a couple of simple fall desserts for the health nuts with a huge sweet tooth, like myself. 

Fall Harvest Crisp 

Gluten-free, Vegan Fall Harvest Crisp

(Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, & Vegan)

Serves: 8-10

Crisps are an effortless dessert. If you enjoy fruit-based sweets, you will love my seasonal take on a crisp. The mix of apples, pears, and dried cranberries with the crunch from the streusel topping is like a fall harvest explosion for your taste buds. I highly recommend topping it with your favorite vegan ice cream, vegan whipped topping, or both if you’re anything like me.

Filling:

• 6 cups peeled and diced apples (any variety, but a mix of Granny Smith and Fuji are recommended)

• 3 cups peeled and diced pears (any variety, but Bartlett is recommended)

• 1 cup sugar-free dried cranberries

• 3 teaspoons stevia sweetener

• 1 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice

• Zest of 1/2 lemon

• 3 teaspoons fresh orange juice

• 2 tablespoon cornstarch

• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

• Dash of sea salt or kosher salt (careful not to add too much)

Streusel Topping:

• 1 1/4 cup oat flour (or almond flour)

• 1 cup gluten-free old-fashioned oats

• 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil (plus more to lightly grease baking sheet)

• 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup

• 1 teaspoon cinnamon

• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

• 1/4 cup sugar-free dried cranberries (for topping)

• 3/4 cup crushed pecans or any nut variety of your choice (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and use a pastry brush or clean paper towel to lightly grease a 10”x10” square baking pan with coconut oil. Set pan aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the filling. Mix until fully incorporated and set aside.

3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients for the streusel topping (except for dried cranberries), and mix until well blended.

4. Add the coconut oil and maple syrup to the dry ingredients, and stir until fully incorporated. The mixture should be a sandy texture.

5. Pour the filling into the baking dish, and then spread the streusel topping evenly over the filling.

6. Place in the preheated 350 degrees F oven for 30 minutes. Then turn up to 375 degrees F for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the streusel topping is browned and the filling is fork tender.

7. Remove from the oven, evenly sprinkle dried cranberries on top, and allow to completely cool.

8. Enjoy with your favorite dairy-free ice cream or whipped topping.

Pumpkin Corn Muffins 

Gluten-free, Refined Sugar-free Pumpkin Corn Muffins

(Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, & Dairy-Free)

Makes: Two dozen

What is October without pumpkin flavored everything? I think we can all agree pumpkin desserts are a fall staple. My moist pumpkin corn muffin recipe will instantly satisfy your sweet cravings. Enjoy them for breakfast, a midday snack, or as a late night dessert with a cup of hot tea. However you decide to treat yourself, you will not be disappointed!

Ingredients:

• 1 1/4 cup cornmeal

• 1 1/4 cup oat flour

• 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (you can make your own or purchase)

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

• 1 teaspoon stevia

• 1 3/4 cup unsweetened canned pumpkin

• 1 cup oat milk

• 2 eggs

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

• 3/4 cup pure maple syrup

• 2 tablespoons avocado oil (plus more to grease muffin pan)

• 1/2 cup pepitas (optional, for topping)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Use a pastry brush or clean paper towel to thoroughly grease each muffin insert with avocado oil (don’t overdo it with oil, but no need to be shy).

2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well blended.

3. In a separate bowl, combine milk, pure maple syrup, pumpkin purée, eggs and vanilla and whisk until fully incorporated.

4. Add the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and mix until fully blended together.

5. Add the avocado oil to the batter and stir until oil is fully incorporated.

6. Pour an even amount of the mixture into each muffin insert. Fill your muffin inserts with three quarters of batter. Do not overfill the inserts, you do not want the batter to overflow in the oven when rising. Tip: Use an ice cream scooper.

7. Sprinkle an even amount of pepitas on top of each muffin.

8. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. To check for doneness, insert a toothpick in the center of a muffin, and if it comes out clean it is done. Muffins should be lightly golden on top.

9. Remove pan from oven and let the muffins cool in the pan. Once completely cooled, carefully remove the muffins and enjoy!