Healthy Apple Crumble Bars with Pecans – Gluten Free, Low Carb (with Keto Option!)

Briana

Briana

Last updated on October 3rd, 2020

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These Healthy Apple Crumble Bars with Pecans are the ultimate fall dessert! These healthy apple bars are totally low carb, gluten free, refined sugar free, and there’s a keto friendly option. Combine honey crisp apples with zucchini to achieve a lovely fall flavor, without all of the sugar! Drizzle with some of our homemade keto salted caramel sauce for an amazing decadent treat. For the keto option – you can use all zucchini! Zucchini is the best keto friendly substitute for apples. You will be making these crave worthy bars all season long.


healthy apple crumble bars with keto salted caramel and ice cream

Ahhh… fall! The most wonderful time of the year! Since shifting to a low carb diet a few years ago, apples were something we wrote off as more of a treat that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy much anymore. How fun is that? Not fun, if you ask us. Well, this year we decided that enough was enough! We had to find a way to enjoy honey crisp apples in a way that didn’t shock us with too much sugar. These healthy apple crumble bars with pecans are low carb (and yes, they do contain some real apple!) and gluten free. At only 6 net carbs per bar containing a whole honey crisp apple per batch, we consider that a win. There’s a keto option too, that lowers the net carb count to 4 net carbs per bar.

These bars start with a buttery, shortbread crust made with almond and coconut flour. It’s slightly sweet and spiced. After par baking the crust, we add a our combo of softened zucchini and honey crisp apples! The filling is sweet, buttery and spiced. Lastly, we take the remaining shortbread crust, add chopped pecans and crumble it over the top before baking. The hardest part about this recipe is waiting for these bars of delight to cool. Trust it, patience is key! Once solidified, these bars cut and hold up really well. We top with our favorite low carb ice cream and some of our homemade keto salted caramel sauce! These low carb apple crumble bars are so delicious, you won’t remember what you did before this recipe!

Here’s What We Used For These Healthy Apple Crumble Bars with Pecans:​

gluten free keto healthy apple crumble bars

If you’re an experienced gluten free baker, feel free to skip to the recipe card. If you’re not, we do recommend reading through all of the notes and steps carefully. The process (and having patience, is super important to a delicious healthy apple crumble bar, and we made sure to include lots of tips and tricks!

Do I Need Xanthan Gum For This Recipe?

Xanthan Gum is pretty necessary for this recipe. We love it because you just use a small amount, and it makes things hold together very well. To us, it’s a very necessary part of gluten free baking. Without the traditional gluten that holds things together when working with regular flour, it can be tricky to get things to stick properly. We use the xanthan gum in the crust, the crumble topping and in the filling to get the apple/zucchini filling to thicken up and set nicely. You could probably use cornstarch or arrowroot powder to thicken up the filling instead of xanthan gum. Technically you could make the crust and crumble topping without it, but it just won’t stick and hold together quite the same. Basically, we think you should get some xanthan gum to make your life easier! It’s super affordable and easy to find.

What is Apple Pie Spice? Can I Make My Own?

Apple pie spice is a blend of cinnamon and other warm spices like ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and more! Basically this spice blend is good for so many fall baking projects that include apples. It’s truly delicious, so you will want to have some on hand! You can buy it at many stores, McCormick makes a pretty accessible version! To make your own apple pie spice at home, it’s too easy. It’s really affordable too! To make apple pie spice, you combine cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground cardamom, ginger, and cloves in a large bowl and whisk together, then transfer it to a container. That’s it! You can add more or less of your favorite spices, but your base is definitely cinnamon.

Here’s our apple pie spice recipe (again, add more or less of the various spices for your own personal preference!):
5 tbsp ground cinnamon
1.5 tsp ground nutmeg
1.5 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves

overhead shot of crumble bars cut up with honey crisp apple

Why Do We Use Cold Butter For the Crust and Crumble?

For this recipe, and many of our recipes that include a crumble topping (kinda like this no sugar added sweet potato casserole) we use cold butter! Grandma taught me this trick, but cold butter will help you achieve a “crispier” texture. For this application we are kind of making a shortbread crust, and then of course the crumbly topping that we want to crisp up a bit. This article explains a bit more of why different temperatures of butter are good for different applications. Basically, for these healthy apple crumble bars, we want some crispier bits, and cold butter helps us achieve that. Why? Because cold butter won’t full integrate into the crust, so when it bakes, some water releases, creating a more “flaky” or “layered” texture.

How Do I Make The Keto Option of These Healthy Apple Crumble Bars?

If you are looking to lower the net carb count in these healthy apple crumble bars, you could remove the honey crisp apples and use zucchini only! Zucchini is a sneaky ingredient, and once we peel it, core it and cut it into bite sized chunks, it has a very neutral flavor, lending it very nicely to being disguised as an “apple”. Then, once we add in our cinnamon and apple pie spice, along with some apple extract, butter, apple cider vinegar and sweetener, you could fool some serious apple enthusiasts!

Since we are more on the low carb end of the spectrum, we really enjoy adding in actual apple to this recipe, but we understand if you are less than enthusiastic. We can replace the one large honey crisp apple in our recipe with one additional chopped, cored and peeled zucchini. This simple swap lowers the net carb count from 6 net carbs in the apple version, to 4 net carbs in the zucchini only version, taking these healthy apple crumble bars from low carb to totally keto friendly!

healthy apple crumble bars with an apple and milk

Can I Use Only Honey Crisp Apples in These Healthy Apple Crumble Bars?

Of course! If you aren’t particularly concerned about the carb count of apples themselves, you can just use all honey crisp apples! For this recipe you would need one additional large honey crisp apple chopped into bite sized pieces (about 215 grams) to replace the two medium zucchinis. We hope our recipe appeals to a variety of diets/ways of eating, and if you are are just looking to cut back on processed sugar and still enjoy plenty of fruit, we think that’s a really great way to look after your health. Cutting back on sugar in your diet can have so many great benefits, leading to a healthier and happier life. If you decide to use just apples in this recipe, you can leave out the apple extract.

Tools We Used For This Recipe:

hand grabbing apple crumble bar from the top with milk in the back

Want to get supplies for this recipe or shop our keto kitchen or pantry? We’ve linked our favorites above and right here in our Amazon Store!  A Full Living is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate program, an affiliate advertising program designed to promote a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking products to amazon.com. We only share products we use and love. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to shop using our links, but we earn a small commission that helps us keep this site going! 


How to Make This Healthy Apple Crumble Bars Recipe:

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8 baking pan, then cover with parchment paper. This will make it very easy to pull out the entire batch of crumble bars to cut them up later.

In a large bowl, add your almond flour, coconut flour, salt, Swerve granular, apple pie spice, xanthan gum and cold butter cut into small chunks. Using your hands or a dough cutter, combine until your crust forms into a ball, then cut it in half. Press half of the dough into your parchment lined baking sheet. Add your chopped pecans to the rest of the dough and combine, then refrigerate until later. This will be your crumble topping. Bake your crust for 10-15 minutes, until it’s golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 10-15 minutes.

While your crust is in the oven and cooling, it’s time to prepare your apple and zucchini filling. In a medium sized sauce pan, add your chopped apples, zucchini, apple pie spice, cinnamon, water, apple cider vinegar, your Swerve granular, unsalted butter, and salt. Cook until softened, about 20 minutes. Once softened, remove from the heat and add in your vanilla extract, apple extract and sprinkle the xanthan gum over top. Whisk vigorously until the sauce has thickened. Taste to ensure it’s sweet and spiced enough to your liking. Allow to cool for a few minutes to continue thickening.

Spread your apple and zucchini filling over top of your cooked and cooled crust layer. Add your crumble topping by sprinkling it over top, then pressing it lightly to adhere to the filling. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting in.

Spread your apple and zucchini filling over top of your cooked and cooled crust layer. Add your crumble topping by sprinkling it over top, then pressing it lightly to adhere to the filling. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting in.

If you get a chance to try this recipe, let us know what you think, would ya?! Leave us a comment, or catch up with us on Facebook or Instagram, or pin to your favorite Pinterest board for later. We love sharing your versions of our creations over on Instagram @afullliving!

pouring salted caramel syrup on a stack of apple bars

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Until Next Time,
Briana & Chamere

Healthy Apple Crumble Bars with Pecans – Gluten Free, Low Carb (with Keto Option!)
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
55 mins
Cooling Time
2 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 25 mins
 

These Healthy Apple Crumble Bars with Pecans are the ultimate fall dessert! These healthy apple bars totally low carb, gluten free, refined sugar free, and there's a keto friendly option. Combine honey crisp apples with zucchini to achieve a lovely fall flavor, without all of the sugar! For the keto option – you can use all zucchini! You will be making these crave worthy bars all season long.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple crumble bars, gluten free, keto, low carb
Servings: 12 bars
Calories: 211 kcal
Author: Briana
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 9 tbsp Swerve granular
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp apple pie spice
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
For the filling:
  • 1 large honey crisp apple, chopped into bite sized chunks, skin on (about 215 grams)
  • 2 medium zucchinis, peeled, cored, and chopped into bite sized chunks
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp apple pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Swerve granular
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp apple extract
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
For the crumble:
  • 1/2 batch crust dough (from above)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine all of your ingredients for your crust, pressing together until a dough forms. Cut the dough in half. Press half of the dough into your pan. Add the pecans to the remaining dough, combine, then refrigerate. Bake your crust for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 15-20 minutes.

  2. While the crust is baking, combine your zucchini, apples, butter, sweetener, apple pie spice, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, water and salt in a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until the zucchini and apple have softened, about 20 minutes.

  3. Once softened, remove from the heat, add in your vanilla and apple extract, then sprinkle on your xanthan gum. Whisk vigorously to combine until the sauce has thickened. Taste the mixture, adjust sweetener and spices to your preference. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

  4. Pour your filling into your cooked crust, then top with the crumble topping, pressing down lightly on the crumble topping to adhere to the crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

  5. Top with low carb ice cream, whipped cream, and some keto caramel sauce if desired. Enjoy!!

Recipe Notes

Macros: We calculate our macros using MyFitnessPal. They are estimated and provided as a courtesy, we cannot guarantee the accuracy. 

Makes 12 servings, or 12 bars. 1 bar is a one serving

Low Carb Recipe (using honey crisp apples): This is the recipe using real apples. We cannot resist honey crisp apples in the fall! Since there are 12 servings in a batch, we find it does not make a big difference to use real apple! 

211 calories per serving, 17g fat, 3g protein, 12g total carbs, 6g fiber, making 6 net carbs per 1 bar. 

Keto Option (all zucchini, no apple):  If you chose to use all zucchini in place of any apple, you will lower the calories to 205 calories per bar, with 10g total carbs and 6g fiber, making 4g net carbs. The fat and the protein remain the same. 

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Healthy Apple Crumble Bars with Pecans - Gluten Free, Low Carb (with Keto Option!)

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