This past winter, I had the pleasure of tasting several of my friend Magdalena’s recipes, as she was putting the final touches on her beautiful cookbook, Cooking for Hormone Balance. One evening, she served her “Dinner-Stealing Cobbler” (pg. 346) for dessert and it was truly better than any cobbler I’ve ever had! Honestly, it’s hard to excite me with a dessert that doesn’t contain chocolate—but I savored each bite, trying to decipher what the unique flavor I tasted was.

Magdalena was impressed when I declared it as anise—but it surprised me even more that I knew that, given that anise is an ingredient I had never personally cooked with.

Star anise is a seed pod from an evergreen shrub that mainly grows in China and Vietnam.  Although it is actually unrelated to the more common anise seed, they both contain a compound called anethole, which is responsible for their licorice-like flavor.

This summer I felt inspired to add a touch of ground star anise to my Berry Crisp recipe—and this simple half teaspoon addition took my recipe to a whole new level. Dare I say, taking it from ordinary to extraordinary!

Please note that I could only find whole star anise pods (pictured to the right) and so I ground them into powder in our coffee/spice grinder.

If you are not a fan of licorice flavor (some people know that they are not!), I’d suggest either omitting the ground star anise or substituting 1-2 tablespoons of chopped, fresh mint leaves in its place.

Enjoy….I’d love to hear what you think!

Very Berry Extraordinary Crisp
by Debbie Steinbock


4 cups fresh blueberries
1-2 cups strawberries or raspberries
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. tapioca starch
heaping ½ tsp. ground star anise

crisp topping
½ cup blanched almond flour
½ cup finely shredded, unsweetened coconut flakes
½ tsp. sea salt
1-2 Tbsp. maple syrup or maple sugar (to desired sweetness)
3-4 Tbsp. melted coconut oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the oven rack in the center of the oven.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the berries, lemon juice, maple syrup, tapioca starch, and ground star anise and gently mix to combine. Transfer ingredients into an 8” deep ceramic baking dish.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the almond flour, shredded coconut, sea salt, maple sugar, and melted coconut oil for the crisp topping. Use enough coconut oil so that the topping is well combined and not dry. Gently spread the crisp topping evenly over the fruit.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. If necessary, move to the top rack and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the topping is browned and crispy.

About Debbie Steinbock, HHC

After years of being told that she had an "incurable" chronic health condition, Debbie turned to her diet to help her understand her disease, restore her body, and regain control of her health. Her personal journey has given her the knowledge and compassion necessary to help her clients take an active role in their own healing. Since starting her practice in 2000, Debbie has successfully helped hundreds of people across the country to improve their diet, enhance their current state of health, and eliminate a variety of health conditions.

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