Alisa Fleming ~ This past weekend at BlogHer Food, I had the opportunity to share some of my favorite dairy-free tips, tricks, and products. We discussed everything from whipping up cream-less cream to adding bold no cheese flavors and which milk alternatives to use for what types of recipes (If you missed it, have no fear, all is covered in Go Dairy Free!). However, I felt like I didn’t dedicate enough face time to one of my favorite non-dairy foods, coconut oil.
Some of you have already been smitten with the coconut oil bug, while others still think of it as an exotic ingredient. If you have been holding out, trust me, unless you are allergic to this tropical food, coconut oil is a must-have for your dairy-free kitchen. Aside from palm oil, coconut oil is the only readily available plant-based fat that has the rich and solidifying properties of butter. I will get to one of its awesome uses in just a moment, but first, I think we have an issue to address …
I can hear some of you shouting, “But, I hate coconut!” Perhaps the meat of the coconut isn’t your thing, but you really should give the fat a chance. The flavor of coconut oil varies by brand, with some containing nary a hint of coconut and others having a more tropical aroma that all but vanishes in most recipes. You can see my personal comparison of a few brands in this article.
What I have in my cupboard right now is Nutiva Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, because it was such a great price on Amazon. Nutiva is more aromatic than some brands, but even my friends who claim to loathe the coconut, have loved the recipes I have made with this oil.
Ah yes, the recipes. As I explained in our panel, coconut oil solidifies at cooler room temperatures, so softened or hardened coconut oil works very well in place of butter when you want to “cut” in the fat and create large crumbs. One excellent example of this is Meghan’s fruit crumble recipe that uses some very seasonal produce, strawberries and rhubarb …
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
I have expanded the directions for this recipe and added some substitute options for a few of the ingredients, allowing the crumble to better suit varying diets. But the core recipe is from Meghan Telpner, the wonderful Certified Nutritionist behind Making Love in the Kitchen. Depending on how you make it, this recipe can be Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, and Wheat-Free.
Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, rhubarb, and 1/2 cup of the honey. Spread the mixture evenly in an 8×8-inch ungreased pan. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, oats, almonds, sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Stir in the honey, and cut in the coconut oil with a fork or pastry blender until you get a nice crumbly mixture. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the fruit in your pan. Bake the crumble for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden.
Single Serve: You can bake this crumble in individual ramikens if preferred, but you may need to reduce the time a bit.
To Serve: Top with your favorite dairy-free ice cream (even better if it is homemade!), if desired.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
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Article and photo by Alisa Fleming, founder of GoDairyFree.org, blogger at Alisa Cooks, and author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a freelance writer for several publications, with an emphasis on creating recipes for various types of special diets.