My Best Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

The best gluten-free apple crisp I've made. In this lifetime anyway.

The I in my disease.

I've been pondering identity lately. As in, am I the I writing this as Gluten-Free Goddess--- or am I a word-free, less defined kind of I that isn't actually I at all, but merely a spark in the collective energy source that is the Great Mystery? Or Universe. Or Divine. Or whatever conceptual nomenclature you prefer.

Am I my thinking mind- or am I more of an essence, what we call soul, a truth beyond the assumed collection of thought patterns, personality traits, and personal history framed by a set of beliefs and separation known as the ego?

I do know I am not my disease.

One of the reasons I chose not to use the word celiac in my blog title was for just this very reason. I do not define myself as a celiac. In an identity sense. I do not identify with my this disease. That would be identifying with my gastro-functional limitations.

Hello, my name is Karina. And I have screwed up villi.

But I am not my screwed up villi. Just as I am not my post-cataract lens implants. Or my mended broken hip. Or the silvery streaked hair that bristles like a squirrel on this prone-to-migraines head. I am also not this post-menopausal body that has brilliantly succumbed to a gravitational force superior than lunges and squats (in the end gravity wins, I am sorry to tell you).
The older I get, I find less and less comfort in defining myself at all- never mind defining myself by my various bodily quirks (not to mention, my southerly migrating butt). I derive no solace in my mental quirks either. My beliefs, or assumptions, or my random monkey thoughts. Even my skills are a poor capture of who I really am. I do not identify with how many paintings I've painted or sold, or how many likes I receive on Instagram. I do not crave recognition as a mirror. The alleged prize of fame and fortune remains less than compelling, my least urgent motivator.

I instead wander the hours of my days seeking answers that lead to more questions. Not answers that close the book. As in, subscribing to a system that has it all "figured out".

As Anne Lamott likes to say, certainty is the opposite of faith.

Certainty is finite.

The end of growth. It clips the wings of possibility- the bigger truth that exists beyond my small understanding. Closing the book on the question of Who am I, exactly? would be foolish. The Big Mystery is far greater and more full of awesome than I can ever attempt to imagine. And whatever micro-teeny part I play in this infinite universal system called Life, I intuitively know one aspect of it, thanks to five-plus decades of living. Whatever It is, It is fluid. Everything changes. Including time. The past, present and future. The Universe (it's expanding, you know, faster than they first calculated). My experiential perception of myself (also expanding). The I that does not exist, because the I is only ego. The nattering, unreliable voice in my head.

So if this I does not exist--- who is craving this apple crisp?

Perhaps the only sensible response is this.

Be one with the apple crisp.

Now that I can do.

Gluten-Free Goddess Apple Crisp 

Karina's Gluten-Free Wheat-Free Apple Crisp Recipe

Recipe originally published September 2011.

Ever since I started using quinoa cereal flakes in crisp and crumble toppings I've been dreaming of making an apple crisp. In the past I've used a pancake mix, or a blend of gluten-free flours to make a sugary topping. But quinoa flakes kick it up to a new level of flavor (not to mention, add a whole grain goodness to the endeavor). The texture is delightfully light. And the organic coconut oil gives it a buttery melt-in-your-mouth delicacy I haven't enjoyed since giving up moo-cow dairy.


6 apples (Macintosh, Delicious, Pink Lady, Gala)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons tapioca or arrowroot starch
1 cup quinoa flakes
3/4 cup sorghum flour (or brown rice flour)
1 cup organic light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup organic coconut oil


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8x11-inch gratin or baking dish with vegan buttery spread. Set aside.

Peel and core the apples. Slice them and toss into a bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice and toss to coat. Add the maple syrup and stir. Dust with tapioca starch and stir again to coat the slices. Pour the slices into the prepared baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the quinoa flakes, brown rice flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and sea salt and whisk to blend. Add the coconut oil in pieces and using a whisk or a pastry cutter, cut the coconut oil into the flour blend until you have an even, sandy mixture.

Spoon the mixture all over the top.

Bake in the center of a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes. Cover the top loosely with a piece of foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes or so (depends upon the size/type of apples), until the apples are fork tender and the sides of the crisp are bubbling. (The foil will help keep the topping from browning too much.)

Allow the crisp to cool before serving- though slightly warm it is luscious. We had leftover apple crisp the next day, chilled, right out of the fridge, and Darling it was fabulous cold, too. It tasted like apple pie.

Serves 8.

Baking time : 40 to 45 minutes.

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G-free apple crisp warm from the oven. It's also fabulous chilled.

GFG Notes:

Quinoa flakes make this crisp and crumble topping light and delicate. If you cannot find quinoa cereal flakes (check your local market's hot cereal section) you can order them on-line. Yes, I suppose you could substitute rolled oats- but I find even gluten-free rolled oats rather tough to digest, and they make a heavier gluten-free apple crisp. Not nearly as lovely as using quinoa flakes.

I used brown rice flour and it was perfectly flavorful. You don't need starches- or xanthan gum- in this topping recipe. If you need to be rice free, I suggest sorghum flour.

To keep it completely starch free, omit the tapioca starch in the apple filling. I did, and it worked beautifully- though the juices would be thicker if you add the starch.

For more substitution help, please see my guide to baking with substitutions here.

This fabulous recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, egg-free, soy-free, nut-free, and xanthan gum free. Holy tap dancing Goddess. That's a lot 'o free.

Not a fan of quinoa? That's okay. Here's a fabulous Apple Pear Crisp Recipe without it.

xox Karina


Réanne said...

Sounds awesome! Perfect timing as I am going to make some apple crisp this weekend (and maybe pear crisp as well-lots of both on the property I live on!) I'll just toast some oats for it, as I don't have quinoa flake cereal and have no issues with oats. As always, thanks for sharing! :D

Amber McGinnis said...

Amazing timing! .. I happily plotted to the only slightly organic grocery store in my small town last night praying, Praying there would be a gluten free apple pie. Of course, there were none! I settled for some weird sort of gluten free donut. No good. I grew up in a donut shop so I know donuts!
And then I come home to this recipe today!!! I am off to the grocery store, again, but this time just for apples!! THANK YOU!

Kalyn said...

Gorgeous writing, gorgeous cooking, and gorgeous photography.

And now I am craving apple crisp too.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I've never tried quinoa flakes, but I'm adding them to my grocery list right now. Must try this apple crisp asap!

Jo said...

Karina, I heart you and your cosmic ramblings and apple crips cravings. I think I needed the reminder today that sometimes certainty is overrated. Love the Anne Lammot quote. Thank you!

gluten free gift said...

Karina - love that you choose not to "identify" with your condition. For years I called myself "a celiac" - in hindsight, I think that's pretty sad... but then, I was the only person I knew who lived as I did - as such it largely formed my early identity.

Today it would be one of the last ways I'd describe myself. Many use their ailments as a form of identity, or a way to get attention.

As for the crisp - I'm in!! Would like to give this a go with pears... I have yet to work with quinoa flakes. Thanks for expanding my culinary reach :) Claudine

Laura said...

Mmmmm...that topping looks so crisp and delicious!

LKP said...

UBER luv!

Mel said...

what an awesome spoon! May I ask where I can purchase a silverware set like that?

Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit said...

I love using quinoa flakes to top apple crisp! Have you tried rice flakes? They make the crisp a bit crispier... so delicious!

Maggie said...

Karina, this recipe looks wonderful! Thank you! As for how to identify yourself, well, my teen-aged daughter and I have figured out that we're not the ones with the defective villi. Instead all the "normal" people's villi are defective because they can't detect that gluten is inedible! After all, we wouldn't be as inconvenienced if everyone else wasn't trying to eat this non-food item all the time, would we? We just have to humor them, and protect ourselves.

Velvet Liedkie said...


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post! As one living with a brain tumor, I'm asking myself similar questions. The words I needed to hear today were "I am not my disease." Thank you! Also for the recipe, that I will make with my not-defined-by-celiac son when he gets home this week. Blessings to you!


Anonymous said...

Karina, Can you substitute butter for the organic coconut oil? If so, in the same amount?

Thanks - your recipes are wonderful.


Anonymous said...

My brother makes an "apple" crisp with peeled,cored, sliced zucchini! He loves it! Since I can't have apples I think I will try this recipe with zucchini!

Ridgely's Radar said...

Yum! Looks delicious and perfect for the fall!

Jennifer Necyk said...

I made an apple crisp just last week and used quinoa flakes and it was so good!!! I was feeling a bit blue that I couldn't buy one of the seasonal pies that were all over the one supermarket last week and told myself that I was going home to make some comfort food apple crisp. It really does make a nice topping. Also, I just wanted to share an article in Maclean's magazine about wheat that was interesting. Maggie's comment made me think of it. Here's the link.

Brittany Boersma said...

This looks prefect! Nice pictures:)

Jeanette said...

Enjoyed reading your post - my identity continues to grow with each decade, there are so many phases in life, and I'm constantly learning something new. I will definitely be trying this apple crisp now that apples are in season.

Nathan Strange said...

Karina, I just made this tonight and Oh. My. Gosh...

I used sweet rice flour instead of brown since that's what I had on hand, plus I was out of molasses. My organic sugar has a bit of molasses flavor, but I can't imagine how good it would be with it.

Hubby and I are in love with this recipe. Thank you SO MUCH!!!

pdw said...

I'm going to sub buckwheat flour for the rice flour to make it grain free. Sure looks lovely.

Zuzu Petals said...

Your timing is perfect. I have more apples & pears from my CSA than I even know what to do with and was graving a gluten-free crisp just this morning. Thank you!

Morri said...

What beautiful words, Karina. "I am not my disease." So quickly I sometimes forget that and give into that silly lie.

Also, I'm curious how a dash of rosemary powder would venture. ;)


Deanne Fitzpatrick said...

Such lovely thoughtful writing, so much more than a apple crisp recipe. Thank you for your writing and your recipes.

Anonymous said...

Amazing! I just made this but used a GF pie crust (from Whole Foods) and substituted butter for the coconut oil. It worked wonderfully! I have not had apple pie since being diagnosed with Celiac (3.5 years ago) and am so glad I cam across you blog! Thanks!

Jeanette said...

I made this last week and my family loved it...the topping was nice, light and crumbly.

Alissa @ Not Just Apples said...

Quinoa cereal flakes is a genius idea! Sounds like it would be perfect :)

Anonymous said...

It's Thanksgiving today in Canada! I made this recipe today and my entire family LOVED it!!!

Marianne said...

I've made this recipe twice already, and it's fantastic. My husband loves it, and the left-overs it makes. I have used GF oats, instead of the quinoa flakes, and it works beautifully.

The Queen of Quinoa said...

I can't wait to try this recipe. I went apple picking yesterday specifically for this crisp! I haven't experimented with coconut oil yet, but this looks like it will be my test :)

Shannon said...

I've tried the quinoa flakes three or four times as breakfast cereal but it's been bitter. Has anyone else had this problem? I like whole quinoa as a side dish so it isn't the quinoa itself.

Tree Peters said...

I have shared your site with so many people for the recipes and healthy aspects. But I also need to share your blog as the ponderings of an incredibly interesting and wonderful writer. I'm so glad you share so much of what goes on in your mind. I love it. No on else does what you do.

Jana said...

I just made this recipe. Easy and delicious! Taste almost "buttery"! I need to be gluten, dairy, and egg-free so I really appreciate this recipe. I'm going to make another one this week so I can bring 1 to each of my 2 Thanksgiving dinners. Thanks again!

MaryMagdalene said...

How cosmic that I look up a gluten free apple crisp recipe and come across a fellow soul on the path of self mastery as myself. Shine on fellow soul traveler, shine on. B T W, thanks for posting this recipe. May be I can beat out the Chef in our family! : ) I just discovered the benefits of coconut oil and this will be the first cooking event I use it for. (Otherwise it goes on my temple and in the smoothies.)

The Wheat-Free Mom said...

Just picked 35 lbs of apples with my boys. A crisp is a must. Thank you, this looks amazing! I;m trying to omit the gums in GF cooking and this does the trick. If you have any other ideas, please let me know. Do chia seeds make a good substitute? Anyone tried?

Alison | a girl defloured said...

Hey Karina, I'm Alison and my villi are screwed up too. ;-) But that doesn't mean we can't eat well. This crisp looks perfect. We're picking apples in a few weeks in Yucaipa and I can't wait to be one with it.


kellypea said...

I love that when I stop by here, I get to savor your thoughts on self. I find myself thinking similarly but struggle with the idea of not defining myself by my weight, or less than perfect (insert any feature here). The apple crisp sounds wonderful -- great use of those cereal flakes!

Anonymous said...

What do you about substituting coconut sugar for the brown sugar? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

In the oven as we speak.... ahhh the waiting

Ama said...

Arrowhead Mills just came out with a new hot breakfast cereal that consists of rice flakes mixed with quinoa flakes. Myself, I don't like it is as much as straight-up quinoa flakes as a hot cereal, but this sounds like a perfect way to use up the box, since one of your readers suggested rice flakes.

Shannon, I think I know what you mean when you say the quinoa flakes are bitter. They definitely aren't as sweet as other hot cereals, and I don't put the same things on them. My favorite way to eat quinoa flakes is with a soft poached egg, lightly sautéed kale with a teeny dash of red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of maple syrup. It's a little more savory but still sweet. It was my go-to breakfast in my third trimester when I was pregnant, although my husband loves it just as much, so it's not just a weird pregnancy mixture of flavors. :) Maybe try something savory like this?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Katrina! I have been gluten free for the past 10months and it is so inspiring to read your recipes, your posts are so comforting to someone having so much trouble dealing with the wheat issue

Anonymous said...

I've tried the splenda version of brown sugar baking mix -- it works pretty well in substitute. Not sure how that works in terms of dietary guidelines though.

This may be a dumb question...quinoa flakes are not the same as quinoa that you'd fine near rice and potato mixes in the store?

rmk said...

Karina, I found your blog about 2 months ago when I was told I should continue on the gluten-free diet for the last 6 months "or else" Maybe that is a bit dramatic however that is how it felt. Explaining when going out that I need the GF menu. Answering questions about "how I knew something was wrong" "or so sad you can't have flour and enjoy all this good stuff" However, thanks to all of your recipes I have been supplied with tasty recipes. I have literally lived fulfilled off of your recipes. Your blog is inspiring and photography inviting and amazing. You have managed to create freshness to all those damaging foods I can no longer enjoy, and to be honest I enjoy my GF breakfast bar and so does my boyfriend who can eat whatever he likes. I want to thank you and let you know how impactful your time and dedication to sharing with the "universal" has been to one soul.

ddcura said...

That sounds so good!!! especially with the quinoa flakes!

sweetpea said...

WOW! Just took this out of the oven. So good! I cut the recipe in half and used cup 4 cup gluten-free flour instead of the brown rice flour. I am not a fan of quiona but this was delicious. Thanks for a great fall treat!

Tina Palmer said...

I made this for a pot luck at work. It was delicious and got rave reviews from my co-workers. When I took it in I thought no one would even want to try it because it was gluten free.I thought at least I would have some yummy leftovers Well, I have no leftovers and now I need to make more!

Josie said...

I made this for a potluck BBQ last night and everyone LOVED it. I used coconut sugar for the brown sugar and coated the apples in cinnamon before adding the crumble. Thanks for the recipe!

Anonymous said...

We have made this three times this month. My daughter made it for me last night. It was the best because this came from Karina with love, made by my daughter with love and eaten by all of us, all in love. Thank you!

Marilyn said...

Thanks for all the substitution help. I used coconut spread for my fat with a mix of GF oats and quinoa flakes. Then Cup4Cup as my flour and brown sugar. it turned out fabulous.

Merryanne D said...

Hi Karina,
I can definitely be one with a apple crisp. yum. I have not tried the recipe yet, but, will soon. I love your blog, the writing and stories keep me interested.
Thanks for the gluten free info <3
Maryann D

Anonymous said...

I love apple crisp! So I was very excited to see this post. I made it last night and used Splenda brown sugar and it turned out DELICIOUS! I had to take it to work today so I would not eat the whole thing. I am glad to report my dish is empty! Thank you so much Karina for this recipe. There is now a dessert I can eat this weekend for our Family Thanksgiving!

IrismoonInTheCity said...

This is a fantastic recipe! I have a double batch in the oven right now. We're not dairy-free, so I used salted butter in place of the coconut oil (and omitted the salt from the topping). I also added some chopped walnuts, raisins, pepitas, and sunflower seeds to the topping, which gave it a bit of nutty crunchy goodness. So delicious, thank you!

Cora White said...

I was thinking last night that apple pie would be nice. I cheated and ate only filling with the pumpkin pie, but that is not really possible with the apple pie. Now I am thinking how to make it with some other fruits. I may be sending you back a riff recipe,

syanicki1 said...

The best gluten free crumble recipe I've found! Scratch that - this is one of the nicest crumble recipes ever. Full stop. I used buckwheat flakes instead of quinoa, and coconut sugar instead of regular sugar. Beautiful, rich, crumbly-cruncy goodness. The coconut oil is a a great substitute for butter - it marries so well with the other flavours and just adds another level of deliciousness! This will now be my go-to crumble recipe!

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