Monday, June 11, 2012

Sweet Summertime Rhubarb Bars

Pin It I was super excited to get some from my mom the last time I saw her because for some reason I've been craving it like a pregnant woman lately.  Haha.  Just kidding.  My mom picked the rhubarb fresh from the neighbors backyard.  Can't get any better than that right? :)   I was super excited to create a new healthy recipe. However, I knew I faced a major challenge in making a healthy rhubarb dessert with rhubarb being naturally tart and most recipes calling for a ton of sugar. 

Simple solution. Honey! Most people don't know the wide variety of health benefits that honey has to offer.  For starters, studies have found honey to have an anti-bacterial/viral/fungal effect therefore helping boost your immune system.  It can also aid in digestion, help prevent cancer, and boost blood levels of some antioxidants.  (Source: Shawn King)

And not that I'm on the  topic of health benefits let's take a look at rhubarb.  Not everybody has grown up picking fresh rhubarb in the neighbor's back yard or going to Grandma's for strawberry rhubarb sauce like I have, so it might be a little unfamiliar.  For those of you who have never had it, rhubarb is a vegetable that looks a bit like celery, but has large (poisonous) leaves and its red/green in color. Most of the recipes I've seen it used in a sweet dish with the addition of a lot of sugar to make up for rhubarb's tart flavor (I don't recommend eating it plain like a celery stick :P).  On it's own without all the added sugar,  rhubarb is pretty healthy.  It is packed with vitamin C and K, fiber, and even some calcium. Some studies have found that the vitamin K may help reduce the risk of the development of insulin resistance which leads to diabetes. (Source: Steady Health)

The steel-cut oats in the crust also provide great nutritional benefits.  They are packed with B-vitamins, calcium, protein, fiber, and magnesium.  Essentially they are the same as rolled oats, but they are far less processed, which makes them even better for you. The steaming, rolling, re-steaming, and toasting process to make rolled oats causes them to lose some of their nutritional value, therefore making steel cut oats the better option.  The best part about steel cut oats is that they help our bodies get rid of unwanted fat and cholesterol!  The soluble fiber grabs all that bad cholesterol and removes it from our body.  I like to think of it as a superhero coming to the rescue and removing the bad guy from the scene before he causes heart disease. :) (Source: My Yoga Online)

Ok one more little paragraph... I can't leave out the health benefits of sesame seeds. They might seem like an unusual ingredient to a dessert crust, but I've recently discovered their wonderful nutritional benefits so I couldn't resist! :)  Although small, they are jam packed with nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.  I'll try to be quick with this so here's a brief list:
                    1. They are made of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which in turn helps
                       lower our LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase our HDL (good) cholesterol.
                    2. Sesame seeds are high in protein.
                    3. They contain "sesamol (3, 4-methylene-dioxyphenol), sesaminol,
                       furyl-methanthiol, guajacol (2-methoxyphenol), phenylethanthiol and furaneol,
                       vinylguacol and decadienal." I know that probably  means nothing to you and
                       it sounds a lot like my organic chemistry homework, but they are essentially               
                       compounds that help keep our bodies free of free radicals which may be cancer
                   4. They are also high in B vitamins like niacin, folic acid, thiamin, pyridoxine,
                       and riboflavin.  Again this might not mean anything to you, but trust me your
                       body needs these vitamins.  Pregnant women especially need the folic acid. :)
                   5. Lastly, sesame seeds are packed with calcium, iron, manganese, zinc,
                      magnesium, and selenium.  These minerals help your body build up it's skeleton,
                      make red blood cells, create enzymes and hormones, and regulate various other 
                      activities.  (Source: Nutrition and You)

Sooo that wan't exactly short...but I just can't help myself. :P  I hope you at least learned a little something.  I know I did!

1/4 cup Steel cut oats*
1/4 cup Sesame seeds
1/4 cup Bran cereal
2 tbsp Light yogurt**
1 packet Stevia

Rhubarb Puree:
2 cups (heaping) Rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
6 packets Stevia

3 Eggs
1/4 cup Honey***
1 tbsp Cornstarch
1 tsp Sugar free jello mix ****

*You can probably use regular if you don't have steel cut.
**I used strawberry because it was what I had on hand, but vanilla would also work.
***Preferably raw pure and unprocessed.  I buy mine local. :)You could also sub agave.
****I added the tiny bit I had leftover from something else to make them a bright red color, but you could probably omit this)

1. Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.
2. Grind the oats, seeds, and cereal into a flour using a magic bullet with the grinder blade (a coffee grinder might work also or maybe a blender?).
3. Add stevia and yogurt and mix with a for until well combined.  It will look crumbly, but it shouldn't looks floury.
4. Grease the bottom of a 9x9 baking dish or line it with parchment paper.
5. Press the crust into the bottom of the baking dish.
6. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes making sure it doesn't burn.
7.  In the meantime, add the frozen rhubarb and stevia to a small pot and cook over medium heat. It should eventually reach a gentle boil.  Cook until the rhubarb is tender enough to be pulled apart by a fork.
8. Puree the rhubarb with a blender or a food processor.
9. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs.
10. Add the honey to the eggs and whisk together.
11. Whisk the cornstarch and jello mix into the rhubarb puree.
12. Once the rhubarb is back to room temperature (important!), whisk the puree into the eggs.
13. Pour the rhubarb mixture onto the crust.
14. Bake for 20-25 minutes until puffy and middle looks set.
15. Let cool completely before cutting. I put mine in the fridge for a few hour before serving.
Makes 9 bars.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 112
Total Fat: 4 g
     Sat. Fat: 0.8 g
     Poly. Fat: 1.2 g
     Mono. Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 62.8 mg
Sodium: 30.4 mg
Potassium: 57.2 mg
Total Carbs: 15.9 g
     Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
     Sugars: 9.2 g
Protein: 3.9 g
Vitamin A: 3.3%
Vitamin C: 0.7%
Calcium: 5.5%
Iron: 7.7%

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