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'Bluebarb' bars a healthy start to morning

Recipe: Blueberry meets rhubarb at the breakfast table

These "bluebarb" bars are just lightly sweet. (Photos:
Kathy Morrison)

My little rhubarb plant finally had stalks to harvest. They were skinny, but long enough -- a plant grown from a tiny seedling purchased a few years ago at an American River College plant sale.

Rhubarb is not the easiest crop to grow in our climate, but this potted rhubarb has hung in there, protected by the shade of my little peach tree.

And I thought "now or never" for harvesting this year, with the real summer weather approaching. The plant will soon follow its perennial schedule, dying back in heat and re-emerging next winter.

But two stalks weren't going to do much in any baked good, so I augmented them with one large purchased rhubarb stalk. Then I found a recipe that combines rhubarb with blueberries (which are just coming into season locally) in a no-dairy, no-egg oat bar. Just a little sweet, with a whole-grain base -- perfect for breakfast.

Note: The amount of fruit is variable. I started with about 3 1/2 cups total, then added another 1/2 cup of blueberries when I realized the fruit was going to be spread a little thin. The recipe as baked could have taken another 1/2 cup of either fruit easily, so the amounts listed below reflect that.

Two think rhubarb stalks with leaves
They're thin but they're homegrown: My rhubarb stalks.
Note: Never eat the rhubarb leaves, or let pets eat them --
they're poisonous. Compost or discard them.

'Bluebarb' breakfast bars

Makes 24 bars


1 teaspoon coconut oil (for pan)


2-1/2 to 3 cups blueberries

1 to 1-1/2 cups chopped rhubarb

1/3 cup honey or maple syrup

Zest and juice of 1 large lemon (about 4 tablespoons juice)

1/8 cup water plus 1 tablespoon, divided

1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder

Oat crust and top:

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

Measuring cups with blueberries and chopped rhubarb
The fruit as prepared: The rhubarb was chopped into chunks about
the same size as the blueberries, which were large.

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tablespoons coconut oil (in liquid form); up to 1/2 tablespoon more if needed

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-by-12-inch baking pan with the 1 teaspoon of coconut oil.

Combine the fruit, honey (or syrup), lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/8 cup water and vanilla in a medium saucepan. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the cornstarch and the 1 tablespoon of water into a slurry. Heat the fruit mixture over medium-high heat until it has a strong bubble going. Remove from heat and stir in the cornstarch/water slurry until well combined. Set aside to cool.

Put 2 cups of the rolled oats in a food processor or blender and blend until the oats are finely ground. Pour them into a large bowl along with the remaining oats, the nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Stir together, then add the applesauce, 2 tablespoons coconut oil and the vanilla. Mix together to get everything consistently blended. (Clean hands work best for mixing here.) Add a little more coconut oil if the mixture seems too dry. It shouldn't be wet when you're done, but you should be able to create small clumps.

Oat mixture on top of fruit in pan
The bars are layered and ready to go in the oven.

Press half the oat mixture firmly and evenly into the greased pan. Spread the fruit mixture evenly over the crust, then crumble the remaining oat mixture over the fruit.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Allow pan to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Leftovers should be wrapped and refrigerated. (Wrap them individually for a quick snack.)

Variation: Substitute up to 3/4 cup of chopped nuts for an equal part of the whole rolled oats.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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