Vegan Rhubarb Crumble Bars

There is a corner in my backyard that belongs to the rhubarb. Every year when I see the little leaves pop up after the last snow, I know spring has arrived.

Rhubarb is a perennial that is eaten as a fruit, although botanically it is a vegetable. While usually cooked, I remember eating it raw as a child, dipping the long stalks into a bowl of sugar, one dip for every bite. It is very tart – an eye-squinting, mouth-puckering tartness.

A co-star in the classic strawberry-rhubarb pie, it is often paired with strawberries or other sweet fruits in cobblers, crisps, compotes or preserves.

Historically, rhubarb root was used medicinally (as a laxative) in China over 5,000 years ago. It’s use in cooking didn’t start until the 19th century, in Britain. It became wildly popular for use in desserts and wine prior to World War II, then quickly dropped out of favour, most likely due to sugar rationing.  

A word of caution, the leaves of the rhubarb plant are toxic due to high concentrations of oxalic acid.  Granted, one would have to eat at least 5 kg for it to be lethal in humans, but best not to test that. Keep pets away from the leaves as well.

Nutritionally, 1 cup of uncooked rhubarb contains 26 calories, 1.1g of protein, 0.2g of fat, 5.5g of carbohydrates, 2.2g of fiber, and 1.3g of sugar.  It is a good source of Vitamins C and K, potassium and manganese. It is surprisingly high in calcium and also a good source of magnesium. 

These vegan rhubarb bars are the perfect compliment of sweet and tart and are lovely with a cup of tea.

Vegan Rhubarb Crumble Bars

The perfect compliment of sweet and tart in a recipe that heralds spring!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Vegan
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

Crumble Crust/Topping

  • 1 1/4 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup vegan butter, cubed eg/ Earth Balance baking sticks

Rhubarb Filling

  • 4 cups diced rhubarb
  • 1 lemon juice and zest
  • 1/2 to 3/ /4 cup sugar adjust sugar to taste, some prefer more tart, others more sweet
  • 2 1/2 tsp cornstarch

Instructions
 

Crumble / Crust Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line an 8 X 8 pan with parchment paper that overlaps on two opposing sides to make lifting the baked bars out easier
  • In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon
  • Using two forks, blend in the chopped butter cubes until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (Alternately, you can use your fingers to do this, but they will melt the butter a bit more than forks will)
  • Spread 2/3 of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan, pressing it down firmly into a crust
  • Bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden

Rhubarb filling

  • In a heavy saucepan, combine rhubarb, lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently for approximately 10 minutes
  • When the liquid has released and the rhubarb has softened, sprinkle and quickly stir in the cornstarch, stirring constantly until mixture has thickened
  • Turn off heat and let mixture cool briefly.

To assemble:

  • Pour warm rhubarb mixture over baked crust in pan
  • Evenly sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top of the rhubarb layer
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the crumble is golden and the rhubarb bubbling at the sides.
  • Let cool completely
  • Lift out of pan using the parchment as handles
  • Cut into squares and serve
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months
Keyword Baked Goods, Rhubarb, Spring

Simply Unbeetable

Beautiful garnet red beets or charming striped Chioggia (candy cane) beets, these earthy root vegetables have pretty incredible superpowers. High in fibre, folate, potassium, iron and vitamin C, 1 cup of beets has only 60 calories.  They are packed with betaine, an amino acid that lessens the body’s concentration of homocysteine, which is a harmful substance that contributes to peripheral vascular disease, heart disease and stroke. Evidence shows that betaine also protects agains non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and inflammation, both common markers of chronic disease. 

Drinking nitrate-rich beet juice has been proven to boost exercise performance in athletes. As they are ingested, the nitrates in beets are converted to nitric oxide, which helps relax blood vessels and improves blood flow. This effect in the elderly may help fight the progression of dementia as more blood flows to the brain. For diabetics, it may lower the risk of complications, particularly nerve and eye damage. For men with erectile dysfunction, additional benefits. I think I can hear a stampede of feet running to the farmer’s market for a fresh bunch of beets *as we speak*!

This cold-pressed beet juice is so good, it’s hard not to guzzle it down all at once. It is best to drink it fresh, but it stores well in two 500 ml mason jars in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours. If stored, shake the jar before drinking. 

Simply Unbeetable 

3 large or 4 medium or 10 very small beets
4 large carrots
3 large celery stalks
1 apple
1/4 fennel bulb sliced (optional)
1 thumb ginger
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon

This makes 4 cups (1 L or 32 oz) of juice.