Blueberry Spinach Crumble Bars

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

camogie photo 220x300I’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.

berry almond bar slice photo 300x200That 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 photoDeceptively 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.

berry almond bar ingredients photo 300x200The 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

Dry Ingredients:
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

Filling:
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.

berry almond bar photo 1024x682

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!

xoxo Christine

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Comments

  1. I snagged Deceptively Delicious from the library a while ago after I saw her on Oprah, it’s got some interesting ideas and recipes too. She’s also got some great tips and thoughts on eating for kids, I’d recommend it to any parent for that reason alone.

    Love what you did with the blueberry crumble! I don’t like the idea of trans-fat-free-margarine-spreads either, even vegan margarine makes my eye twitch.

    Thanks for the recipe! Figure we’re all going to splurge now and then, might as well pack a big punch while we’re at it, right?

    • Thanks Alison! Have you read any of The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine? I think it came out around the same time as Deceptively Delicious. It works on the same concept- just wondering if it’s worth checking out too.

  2. Ewww- I think I’d be ill after that Serv-Safe class and learning about all the yucky meat issues :( Glad you had fun at camogie game- love the pic. This recipe sounds totally interesting. It reminds me of the green monster! Looks so tasty!!! Have a great weekend
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Grab and Go =-.

    • Hey Erica,
      Ew it was gross, but to be fair we also talked about rice, canned veggies, and soy products spoiling too. At least it’s good to know that all restaurants are aware of the dangers in food-handling.

  3. those look awesome!
    .-= brandi´s last blog ..Honduras: The Reason We Went =-.

  4. Oh my gosh Christine – that looks AWESOME! Hard to believe that it’s packed with good things for you!
    .-= Cait (Cait’s Plate)´s last blog ..Special Packages Make Me Smile =-.

  5. you are amazing as always! looks soooo good!
    .-= Holly´s last blog ..miss angharad -> eating for england =-.

  6. Sounds tasty! I’m already envisioning some changes I might make to this recipe…

    – frozen blueberries instead of fresh (more accessible)
    – 1/3 cup vegetable oil and 1/3 cup applesauce in place of the 3/4 cup oil
    – vanilla extract instead of almond extract and omit the almonds

    I think I’d also exchange the preserves for more fruit. Maybe lower the sugar content a teensy bit.

    …it looks awesome, though, and so much fun to play around with!
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..Defining Eating Disorders =-.

    • Thanks Sagan! If you do make it with less oil, I’d be curious know how it works out. I love frozen fruit for baking too, but this time I got fresh so I could throw the leftovers in my salad and feel extra special. :)

  7. i have seen that deceptive cookbook, so clever. i bake for my vegan dudes ALL the time and i am always looking for new stuff. this recipe looks perfect! and i also am going to make those black bean brownies you posted awhile back. the meat cooking class sounds like something i wouldnt want to know about~parasites? ick the word just creeps me out. glad you had a good game!

  8. Wow that is a gorgeous last photo!
    Your headline “I saw the Sein” is genius. Made me chuckle privately at my desk (okay, cubicle).
    .-= Mel @ She Runs Brooklyn´s last blog ..Product Review: Asics GT-2140 Trail Running Shoe =-.

    • Thanks Mel! You don’t think the picture of me in my sweaty helmet is gorgeous?! Haha just kidding!

      Unfortunately I can’t take credit for the “I saw the Sein.” That’s my big bro’s edit! I thought it was funny too, until Ace of Base got stuck in my head…

  9. Thanks Chrissy for the birthday shout-out! Thanks for calling me an athlete! Can’t wait to try this and the birthday cake you’ll make me!

  10. great tip for a healthy snack. Love it, I’ve just bookmarked it!
    .-= Jackie at PhamFatale.com´s last blog ..Julie and Julia Movie Review =-.

  11. Christine, you are a genius. :) Seriously, those look amazing, and I can’t believe the spinach didn’t even change the color at all.

    I have such great memories of eating fruit crisps during snow storms too…this recipe is right up my alley! :-)
    .-= Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)´s last blog ..Oh Happy Days =-.

  12. Hi! This is way late, I know, but just had to say that I’ve been following and copying down your sweets recipes for some time now. This looks amazing!

    Keep up the good work!

  13. Jessica says:

    This is so good. I did make some changes since I made this late and did not have perserves.
    Filling:
    1 cup frozen blueberries
    1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
    2 small apples chopped fine (added to end of puree in food processor)
    2T honey ( I was a bit worried this was for mother’s day, but next time I think I will leave it out)
    1 cup puree in place of the 1/2 cup
    2 T arrowroot powder.

    Crust:
    1/2 cup apple sauce, 1/4 cup coconut oil melted. Everything else was the same.

    I must say that I was very shocked how good this was and that I could not tell this was healthy.

    Jessica

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