Dec. 9. 2014
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

 Christmas is just around the corner and I’m sure you’ve also seen amazing and delicious pumpkin pies, fruit pies, or their variants pop up on food blogs and recipe blogs, I was also tempted to create my own. Instead, I wanted to focus my attention on the not as popular seasonal fruit, the apple! As I mentioned in my “welcome to fall” recipe the Carrot Apple Blended Juice, I love using apples in the cooler months of the year. This Pear Apple & Pistachio Crumble is a wonderful sweet dessert and pumpkin pie alternative to bring to the holiday table this year. Not to mention it’s gluten free and vegan friendly- a win win if you’re trying to please all lifestyles this season.

One of my dear friends got married a couple months ago and she had THE sweetest idea for her dessert. Instead of a traditional wedding cake, she decided to ask all of the women in her life to bake/make her a pie that represented them to share with the entire wedding party. I thought this was the best idea I’ve ever heard, what better way to celebrate love and marriage than several tables full of homemade pies from friends! Naturally, I picked a pie that represented a bit of her- southern belle- with a little bit of me – whole foods addict, foodie, health nut- somewhere in between all of those characteristics I landed on creating this Pear Apple & Pistachio Crumble… and of course had to present in a cast iron skillet!

Funny story though, this pie never made it to her wedding. It was one of those days- you know the kind where your car randomly dies on you at a coffee shop across town, you’re waiting for a tow truck for 3 hours, and it leaves you with no time to make the pie in time let alone get ready properly. But, as I sat in my car, head on the steering wheel huffing and puffing, being “annoyed” and throwing myself a pity party, “oh why did this happen, etc.”, I threw my hands up in the air and asked for the car to start… it started. Thank goodness for that little miracle or whatever you want to call it, or else Bennett and I would’ve missed the wedding! So, all in all, I still prepared this pie with my two dear friends in mind and have made it up to them.


If you remember my other cast iron recipe thus far, Baked Eggs or my Skillet Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, cooked in a cast iron skillet then you’d remember why I love using cast irons for food presentation and ease of use. The visual of this cast iron immediately makes me think of homemade, homegrown, rustic, authentic, and good ole’ food made with love which is a perfect message to be sharing with your guests this holiday season or at a friends wedding like I did. This recipe would also pair well with crumbles of high quality goat cheese, blue cheese, or gorgonzola if you eat dairy. I don’t therefore, my favorite topping is Coconut Whipped Cream or Simply Coconut NOcream and it tastes amazing!

I love making this recipe towards the end of the week when I have minimal ingredients to play with and all my fruit is pretty ripe- making it perfect for baking. It’s something that can be whipped up in no time, normally taking me 15 minutes, and stays well in the refrigerator as leftovers for the week. As I mentioned earlier, you can enjoy this crumble for a sweet breakfast or dessert since it contains a good amount of healthy fats, fiber, complex and simple carbohydrates (from the grains and fruits), and a small amount of plant-based protein from the nuts. All in all, incredibly satisfying and healthy.

Pear Apple & Pistachio Crumble
Recipe Type: dessert, breakfast
Author: McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 10+
A fall inspired pear and apple crumble made in one skillet, using only whole food ingredients and no processed or refined sugars, topped with gluten-free and vegan crumble. GF VGN
  • 5 small pears (450g), cubed
  • 6 small macintosh apple (350g), cubed
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 heaping tablespoon local honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • juice from ½ lemon
  • CRUMBLE //
  • 1 cup (90g) rolled oats
  • 1 cup (90 g) rolled quinoa flakes
  • 1/2 cup (70g) finely ground pistachios
  • 9-8 fresh dates (140g), pitted and chopped
  • 5 tablespoons organic cold-pressed coconut oil (may use grass-fed or vegan butter), melted
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • a pinch of sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large cast iron skillet, or oven safe skillet pan, put all of the chopped fruits and seasonings into the skillet, mixing until combined (all but the crumble ingredients).
  3. You’ll warm this mixture through on the stovetop for about 10 minute or until everything is tender.
  4. Grind pistachios into a flour using a food processor or nut grinder.
  5. In a separate bowl, simply combine all of the ingredients for the crumble topping.
  6. Using your hands, combine into chunks while evenly dispersing the seasonings and dates.
  7. Pour the crumble topping evenly over the fruit filling in the cast iron skillet (that you’ve been cooking in already). Sprinkle with extra cinnamon or ground pistachios if you’d like.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 30-40 minutes, checking at 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and filling is tender.
  9. Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes, this will allow the crumble topping to get nice and crunchy.
  10. Use a large spoon to serve, and serve with homemade banana ice cream or plain before enjoying.
  11. Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 5-7 days.

Have you all ever had something like that happen!? Mini-miracles that you just can’t explain! Anyways, I hope you all enjoy this one, and if anything get a good laugh out of my situation with making this.

Happy baking,

xo McKel