Life is Short—Make Dessert First!

There is something very special about a baked fruit dessert. Nothing takes us back to our pioneer roots like a cobbler or a crisp. Fast and flavorful, these desserts were whipped up by cooks who were feeding lots of people and didn't have time to fuss over a crust. These recipes are low in sodium and high in flavor.

What's the difference between a crisp and a cobbler? The topping on fruit crisps is usually not raised with a leavening agent, and it usually relies on oats and flour plus butter to give it a crunchy, toasted flavor. Cobblers have a biscuit-like topping that melts in your mouth.

Try these two flexible recipes. Both allow you to use whatever fruit is in season, top it with a crunchy or biscuit-type crust, and tailor the flavorings to your taste.

Fast fruit cobbler or crisp

½ cup sugar, if using fresh fruit (omit sugar if fruit is canned in syrup)
1 tablespoon cornstarch, flour or instant tapioca
1 teaspoon lemon juice or vanilla extract
4 cups fruit, choose one: fresh, frozen or canned peaches, blueberries, cherries, plums or blackberries

Cobbler topping:

½ cup white flour
½ cup wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder (salt-free if available)
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup milk

Crisp topping:

1½ cups raw oats
1 cup flour (wheat, white or both)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For cobbler: Mix together flours, sugar, cinnamon and baking powder. Cut in butter using a fork until well mixed and crumbly. Stir in milk. Set aside.

For crisp: Mix together oats, flour, brown sugar, melted butter and cinnamon. Set aside.

Filling for both cobbler and crisp: In saucepan, stir together sugar and cornstarch (or flour or tapioca). Add lemon juice or vanilla and fruit. Stir constantly and bring to a boil. Let boil one minute, then pour into 2-quart casserole or glass cake pan.

For cobbler: Top fruit with large spoonfuls of topping—at least one per person you will be serving. Space between spoonfuls is fine, they will rise and fill in.

For crisp: Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit.

Put a tray or piece of aluminum foil below dish to catch excess filling, which may bubble over. Bake about 25–35 minutes, until filling is bubbling and top is golden brown.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Nutritional information

Cobbler with fresh fruit:

Calories: 220, Carbohydrates: 41 grams, Protein: 4 grams, Sodium: 54 milligrams, Potassium: 340 milligrams, Phosphorus: 173 milligrams

Cobbler with canned fruit:

Calories: 241, Carbohydrates: 47 grams, Protein: 4 grams, Sodium: 58 milligrams, Potassium: 347 milligrams, Phosphorus: 177 milligrams

Crisp with fresh fruit:

Calories: 361, Carbohydrates: 58 grams, Protein: 5 grams, Sodium 106 milligrams, Potassium: 150 milligrams, Phosphorus: 35 milligrams

Crisp with canned fruit:

Calories: 379, Carbohydrates: 63 grams, Protein: 5 grams, Sodium: 110 milligrams, Potassium: 157 milligrams, Phosphorus: 39 milligrams

The information in this column is meant for people who want to keep their kidneys healthy and blood pressure down by following a low-sodium diet. In most cases, except for dialysis patients, a diet high in potassium is thought to help lower high blood pressure. These recipes are not intended for people on dialysis without the supervision of a registered dietitian.

Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and nutrition and fitness manager at Northwest Kidney Centers. The 2014 recipient of National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition’s Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award, Katy has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. See more of her recipes at