I gravitate towards people who are more outgoing, talkative, and easygoing than me. One of my dearest friends can befriend anyone she meets after a 5 minute conversation. As a shy and awkward person, I’ve always considered this a sort of superpower.
After giving it some thought, I’ve realized that my friend’s superpower is not necessarily that she’s an extrovert (although she is). She is just really comfortable with asking personal questions and revealing personal information. This makes people feel at ease around her. I, on the other hand, have always been a deeply private person who feels uncomfortable even asking people something as simple as where they are from.
Why am I telling you this?
Well, I noticed that I’ve lost the vision that I originally had for this blog. I got so caught up on making it successful (whatever that means) that I lost my voice. Rather than writing about what I wanted to write — about the part food plays in my life — and making the recipes that spoke to me, I began competing with everyone else out there and following food trends. It was easy to do this because the blog, up to this point, has not really felt that personal; it has been more of an exercise in adopting someone else’s personality.
Don’t get me wrong; most of the recipes I’ve posted here do follow my style of cooking. They feature fresh, seasonal ingredients and are all made from scratch. But the truth is that I can’t really enjoy some of them. For example, I haven’t been able to digest milk or cream since I was in my early twenties, so more than a small scoop of ice cream makes me feel sick (though I’m not lactose intolerant). For the last two years, I’ve also really struggled with GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). It’s like heartburn but worse. Every person with GERD responds to certain foods in different ways, but I’ve discovered that I can’t have chocolate, raw onion or garlic, refined sugars, heavily processed foods, or a lot of tomatoes or bread. Unlike most people with GERD, however, I can still have spicy foods and fatty meats as long as I consume them in moderation.
I know this sounds like a small thing to admit in a day and age where almost everyone has a food allergy or sensitivity, but it’s a big step for someone like me. With this post, I’m hoping to take The Boozy Oyster in a new, and more honest, direction. I want to focus more on recipes for people who might be struggling with GERD or have some of the same food triggers as I do. I also want to share more about why I’m so interested in food and in writing about food and cooking in general. Hopefully, you will feel inspired to cook from scratch a bit more, and will also want to share your own personal experiences with food and cooking with me.
So… let’s talk about this crumble.
This rhubarb and berry crumble is the first recipe that I’ve made for people who might have trouble digesting refined sugars, dairy, or wheat. I was going through a particular bad patch in terms of managing my GERD, and it was one of the few sweet things that I could eat without feeling a lot of discomfort.
Something I do feel I should clarify before we go any further is that although the “natural” sugars that you can find in fruits, maple syrup, and honey might not be as bad as refined sugars (there isn’t really consensus on this yet), they are still sugars. This means that we shouldn’t consume massive amounts of fruit and think that it’s “healthy” to do so. The same principle applies to fats; just because you are using coconut oil does not mean that you should use a ton of it. I believe that we should, instead, strive to eat pretty much everything in moderation and to add variety to our diets.
Since the berries already give this crumble a lot of sweetness, I did my best to keep any extra sugars to a minimum. I chose to use coconut palm sugar for the topping because it’s the one that most closely resembles the taste and texture of brown sugar. To add a bit of extra sweetness to the berries, I used maple syrup.
Believe it or not, rhubarb is still in season in Eastern WA — or at least it was until a few weeks ago. That’s why I chose to use it in this crumble, but feel free to substitute it with some stone fruit (I bet nectarines would be delicious) or more berries.
The beauty of these rhubarb and berry crumbles is that, once you’ve mastered the basic technique, you can customize it to your liking. I would love to make this again in the fall with apples and lots of cinnamon and nutmeg.
One final clarification: I’m not a nutritionist, doctor, or scientist, so please talk to your doctor if you suffer from GERD. I just read a lot, try to consider multiple perspectives, and stay informed. However, I’m still in the process of figuring out the best way to manage this disorder, and what works for me might not work for you.
Easy Rhubarb and Berry Crumbles (Vegan, GF, Naturally Sweetened)
These delicious rhubarb and berry crumbles are so easy to make! They are vegan, contain no refined sugar, and can be easily made gluten free.
- For the filling:
- ¾ cup chopped rhubarb (or nectarines, peaches, etc.)
- ½ cup chopped strawberries (or your favorite berry)
- ½ cup blackberries (or your favorite berry)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons tapioca starch
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- For the crumble:
- ¾ cup old fashioned oats (look for gluten-free oats to make it gluten free)
- ½ cup almond flour
- A pinch of salt
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 3 tbsp refined coconut oil, melted
- 3 tsp coconut palm sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 375℉.
- Step 2 Grease four 6 oz ramekins using coconut oil and a paper towel.
- Step 3 In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the filling.
- Step 4 Fill the ramekins about three quarters of the way with the filling.
- Step 5 Add all the ingredients for the crumble except for the coconut oil to a small bowl. Mix well with a fork or spoon. Add the coconut oil and combine. The mixture should come together but still look fairly dry.
- Step 6 Top the ramekins with the crumble topping.
- Step 7 Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes. Baking time may vary slightly so start checking them at the 20 min mark. The filling should bubble over slightly and the top should turn a medium shade of brown.
- Step 8 Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: The crumbles should keep in the fridge for about 5 days but are best enjoyed within three days. You can pop them in the microwave to reheat them.