Blueberry Cobbler Bars

I wanted to make fresh blueberry cobbler but I also wanted it to be eaten at a potluck — so it had to be portable and it had to be easily cut and eaten without much mess — so I created these bars. First I decided to make blueberry jam (rather than just baking the fruit as you would with a traditional cobbler) which is what held the bars together. I made the jam from fresh blueberries and chilled it overnight, then I made the cobbler in the morning. I count these as another success in my quest to tweak all of my favorite recipes so as not to need any refined sugar or white flour. The potluck, by the way, was held at an amazing farm called Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Blueberry Cobbler Bars & Blueberry Jam

For the jam:

2 pints blueberries about 1/2 to 1 cup water about 3 tbls honey 1 to 2 tbls fresh lemon juice

Put the blueberries and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After about five minutes add the lemon juice and honey and continue to stir occasionally over medium heat until the mixture is reduced to a thicker consistency (about 30 to 45 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and chill completely in the refrigerator. The mixture will become much thicker after it is chilled.

For the cobbler bars:

2 1/2 cups spelt flour 1 2/3 cups oats 1 cup walnuts, chopped 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbls butter, softened to room temperature 2 large eggs 3 tbls maple syrup 2 tbls honey 1/4 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer (or large bowl, with hand mixer) cream the butter, honey and maple syrup on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and mix just enough to incorporate. Add the nuts and oats and mix until just combined. Press about 2/3 of the mixture into the parchment-lined pan, spreading out evenly. Spread with the blueberry jam and then crumble the remaining dough on top. Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 1 hour. Put the pan on a wire rack to cool. Once completely cooled cut into squares.

Nutrition Nuggets

Blueberries are an excellent source of flavonoids — antioxidant compounds that create their brilliant shades of blue, red and purple. When Tufts researchers analyzed sixty fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant capability, blueberries scored the highest. Blueberries help prevent the brain from oxidative stress and may help reduce the effects of age-related conditions, like Alzheimer's disease. Blueberries have also been found to improve vision and protect against macular degeneration. They may be protective against the development of cataracts and glaucoma and are also therapeutic in the treatment of varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and peptic ulcers. Blueberries promote urinary tract health because they contain the same compound found in cranberries that help prevent and eliminate urinary tract infections. They are also high in vitamin C, fiber, manganese, vitamin E, and riboflavin.

Spelt is an ancient grain, a distant elder cousin of modern wheat. It is, in fact, one of the earliest crops grown in the Western world. As a grass-derived grain, spelt is the perfect substitute for white or whole wheat flour when baking. It is an excellent alternative for those allergic to wheat since it contains different forms of gluten than modern wheat. The type of gluten found in spelt is much more fragile than the gluten found in wheat which makes it much easier for the body to break down and digest. Spelt also provides double the amount of protein and fiber than is found in most common varieties of commercial wheat. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates as well as B vitamins and minerals.