Happy Sweet-Tooth Friday! It’s Christine here, and I can’t believe Friday has rolled around already. For this Sweet-Tooth Friday I made Vegan Berry Spinach Crumble Bars.
Gross Meat Disease and Camogie
I’ve had a super busy week since I checked in last. I took a 16 hour Serv-Safe class which is a food-service certification required by the Health Department. Even though I work in a vegetarian restaurant, it’s the same class for everybody so I still had to memorize all the diseases, bacteria, parasites and toxins associated with cooking meat. It was totally gross and after my exam I went straight home and made a batch of lentil burgers.
A more positive aspect of my busy week was this Saturday’s camogie game. My team, the Lady Bohemians, played the DC Gaels. I have been to two practices and was pretty nervous about playing in a game, but I ended up having a blast! It definitely trumped the workouts I’ve been doing at the gym!
After spending the entire afternoon running around and wearing a sweaty helmet in the August sun, you can imagine I was quite spent after the game. I ducked into a 7-11 to get a bottle of water and while waiting in line I took TWO oatmeal cookies out of the bakery case. Without a second thought, I ate them BOTH before even checking out! I guess my body really needed a quick-fix. Unfortunately, my body didn’t care to alert me about my 30-day challenge that excludes dairy. I have been so diligent about my challenge that I was totally bummed out, but mistakes happen.
That incident inspired me to make a sweet goodie to pack along next time. I was going to just make some more energy bars, but I decided I wanted something more indulgent. This recipe I used for my Berry Spinach Crumble Bars is a modified version of the Deceptively Delicious recipe for Blueberry Oatmeal Bars.
I Saw the Sein
Deceptively Delicious is a cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld that sneaks veggies into classic kid-friendly meals. I was pretty excited when I picked up this book because the concept is right up my alley. Even though the recipes have added nutrition, they still aren’t all that healthy and I had to make many changes to get it to my standards.
The obvious change was using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose. I also don’t like the idea of trans-fat-free-margarine-spread, so I used a combination of coconut and canola oil. Even though she uses low-sugar blueberry preserves, I cut that in half and added lots of fresh blueberries.
The addition of almonds was an afterthought, mainly because I got nervous by the weird smells coming out of my mixing bowl. I thought that a little almond extract would be guaranteed to overpower the spinach taste. Feel free to use coconut extract and coconut shreds in the topping instead of the almonds; I debated long and hard between the two.
Even though it’s only a half cup of spinach puree it’s actually a ton of spinach, probably about 3 salad servings. I ended up using three times the amount I set up for the ingredient picture. But after tasting the final product, the spinach is so undetectable I wish I would have used more!
Vegan Blueberry Crumble Bars with Spinach
2 cups oats
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds
The Wet Ingredients:
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1/2 cup canola)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup blackberry preserves
1/2 cup spinach puree
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tbs arrowroot or cornstarch
1 tsp almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients together except for the almonds. Add the wet ingredients and stir or mix with your hands until evenly moistened and crumbly.
Press about half the mixture firmly into a greased 9 inch round pan (or 8 inch square pan). Bake for 10 minutes.
While that’s baking, stir together the filling ingredients. To make the spinach puree, microwave spinach with a tablespoon of water in covered bowl for 25 seconds, then puree in a food processor.
Spread the filling onto the partially baked crust. Don’t worry, it won’t look green after it bakes. Then top with the remainder of dry mixture and chopped almonds. Bake for 25 more minutes, rotating once.
Let cool and cut into 8 wedges if using a round pan or 12 bars if using a square one. Jessica recommends letting these cool completely so that the spinach taste totally disappears, but I had a wedge still warm out of the oven and it tasted fantastic. These bars are my boyfriend Greg’s official new favorite healthy dessert, though it’s a close race with the Chocolate Avocado Mousse for him.
Like I said, I wish I would have added more spinach! These were rich and decadent- so decadent that next time I might cut back a little on the oil, maybe add a little applesauce. Either way, it’s a nice healthy way to have that comforting home-style taste. Actually this reminded me a lot of the NMA mom’s apple crisp she made for us whenever it snowed outside. If you experiment with different berries, nuts, and flavorings, let me know what you come up with! I know I will definitely be making a version of this one again!
Before I go, I just want to wish my NMA dad a Happy Happy Birthday! NMA Dad, you have been a great sport trying out all these healthy recipes. I promise the birthday cake I make you won’t have any spinach in it! Though I might at least make it whole grain…and without dairy…
Until next time, stay sweet!