Wednesday, April 24, 2013

(Paleo and/or Gluten-Free) Strawberry-Rhubarb "Bars".

It is no secret that I have a wicked sweet tooth.  I have made great strides in consuming less sugar, specifically less desserts, but lately?  Man.  I am really craving the sweet stuff.  I'll go ahead and blame the pregnancy hormones, which is fun and easy to do - but so far, I'm doing a pretty good job of not giving in to overly refined sweets.  Part of the reason is that I'm finding naturally sweetened things to help me out.  The post-suppertime call of dessert is after all a part of my genetic make up, and who am I to buck the mold and abstain?

rhubarb strawberry bars, gluten-free

I will also publicly confess that I don't think I should be eating rhubarb.  This kills me, because rhubarb is one of my most favorite things - especially during this time of the year when you can't barely log onto your computer without finding a half dozen stellar looking rhubarby treats.  Rhubarb is part of the nightshade family, and one of the foods that I've self-diagnosed as a trigger for my skin problems.  Last spring, I may have overdosed on the kuchens and jams... and my hands really paid the price.  But this week there was one last bag of frozen, chopped rhubarb from last year in my deep freeze, and after this gorgeous post by Alanna at the Bojon Gourmet I figured I'd risk the minor skin irritations and come up with a no-refined sugar dessert for myself.  (Even though I'll likely have to make Alanna's version when the new crop rhubarb finally gets here!)

I suppose this dessert is mostly paleo friendly;  it's definitely gluten-free and refined sugar free.  It's also very much on the not-too-sweet side, leaving just enough room for a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, though I've been just as happy having a generous spoonful of full-fat plain Greek yogurt on top. To coerce my son into having some, I just added an extra drizzle of maple syrup over the top which made it plenty sweet enough to convince him that he might just like rhubarb after all.

rhubarb strawberry bars, gluten-free

If you use frozen rhubarb and strawberries, there is no need to defrost them first.  I think the flavor of the dessert is better the next day, after it has fully chilled and had a chance to "set up".  These are the type of bars that require eating with a fork, unless you are very cautious and eat over the sink.

Strawberry Rhubarb Bars
  • 2 c. chopped rhubarb (frozen is fine)
  • 1-2 c. sliced strawberries (frozen are fine)
  • 1 T. rapadura
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 1 T. cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 10 dates
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c. sprouted almonds (50 g.) ground into a meal
  • 1/2 c. (50 g.) unsweetened, dried coconut
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 T. rapadura
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350.  Butter a 9x9 glass baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, 1 T. rapadura, 1 T. maple syrup, and cornstarch and stir well to combine.  Pour into prepared baking dish.
Using a blender, blend the eggs and dates until they are fully blended.  Pour over the rhubarb and strawberry mixture.

In a small bowl (or the same bowl you used to mix up the rhubarb and strawberries) combine the almond meal, coconut, salt, rapadura, oil, and butter and mix with your fingertips until you reach a good crumbly consistency.  Spread evenly over the top of the dessert.

Bake until puffed and lightly browned across the top, and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean - about 1 hour.  Cool completely to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator.  Serve with an extra splash of maple syrup, vanilla ice cream, and/or plain Greek yogurt.

gf coconut topping

Spring in Wisconsin is off to a slow start - which is really excellent news for maple syruping, but not so good news for us sun-starved northerners.  In many places around the country, the rhubarb is already up and ready to cut, but we're still waiting for a bit more warmth here to be so lucky.  Then, I'll replenish my frozen stores and continue to repress my physical sensitivities to this most wonderful marker of spring.  I'm sure I'll be figuring out a few more ways to enjoy rhubarb without so much sugar!

rhubarb strawberry bars, gluten-free


  1. These look delicious! I'm so sorry you have a skin allergy to rhubarb - that's awful! I worked with a pastry chef who has skin allergies to nuts and citrus. I feel so bad for both of you. :( Have you tried taking an antihistamine when eating rhubarb? My sister gets hives if she eats gluten, but if she takes an antihistamine, she's ok. (Don't know if those are ok during pregnancy, though.) Thanks for sweet the shout-out! You could totally make the cobbler with different fruit (like mixed berries) if you don't want to risk it. Hope you're having a lovely day. :)

  2. Rhubarb is in the Polygonaceae not the Solanaceae (nightshade family).

  3. Hey, thanks Erica! I looked it up and I knew it was related to buckwheat (which doesn't seem to trigger any skin reaction in me - as nightshades do appear to...) I didn't know it was related to sorrel, which I don't react to either. Interesting! I've started reading Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy, and now I'm curious if/what she has to say about rhubarb!


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