Poor Gwyneth Paltrow. No other actress seems to earn as much scorn for her off-screen activities (Goop, age inappropriate bikinis for little girls etc.) that I can’t help but wonder why she doesn’t just stick to acting. Unfortunately, I don’t know too many people who count her as their favourite thespian either. In fact, when I thought about which of her films I personally enjoyed, I came up with Se7en and Contagion; both involved a horrible, untimely end for Gwyneth’s characters. This is purely coincidental, I promise.
Anyway, the last thing the world needs is another hater (and Gwyneth has a lion’s share of her own) so this post is to give the Oscar® winner a brownie point. This week my good friend S introduced me to ‘Bummer Bars’. Initially I thought she said ‘Obama Bars’ which kinda made more sense since I figured GP would be a proud Democrat but it’s apparently ‘Bummer Bars’. I specifically titled this post ‘Gwyneth Paltrow’s Bummer Bars’ just so you know I had no part in the name. That be all Gwyneth’s doing.
Bummer Bars are featured in the ‘Sweet Tooth’ section of Gwyneth’s second book, It’s All Good (yes, she’s published before…) and while my friend S speaks highly of it, I don’t believe GP offers an explanation therein for the odd name either. My theory is that you feel bummed out by the recipe when you discover 70% of the ingredients required is absent from your pantry and you have to go shopping. Bummer.
Joking aside, Bummer Bars are astonishingly delicious and quite addictive for something that is vegan, gluten free and cane sugar free. I really found it hard to stop at one so when my supply of S’s Bummer Bars disappeared, I had to make my own stash. I already had a bag of linseed (flaxseed) from my brief foray into raw eating earlier this year so it was good to be able to repurpose them finally. I always have brown rice syrup in stock so I just needed to replenish my maple syrup supply and procure other bits and pieces.
Overall, the ingredients aren’t that unusual or hard to find but they’re not cheap, and that seems to be the main criticism directed at Gwyneth’s book. However, you can easily make more economical substitutions and still have healthy treats at home. Bummer Bars are much nicer than Uncle Toby’s alternatives and certainly better for you if only for knowing what is exactly in them. I’ll include some substitution ideas in brackets in the recipe below.
I pretty much followed Gwyneth’s recipe (featured at Publisher’s Weekly) except I added a tablespoon each of Mesquite Powder and Black Chia Seeds instead of ginger and nutmeg. My bars still turned out pretty much like S’s batch but there’s definitely room for people to put their own twist on these treats to suit their tastes (and budget). I might try adding some cranberries next time or even a hit of raw cacao for a more chocolatey snack.
I’m definitely a big fan of Bummer Bars so props to Gwyneth. She got this one right :)
- 1 ½ cups (130g) quinoa flakes (or rolled oats)
- ¼ cup ground (60g) flaxseeds/linseeds (or try pre-ground Linseed Soy Almond [LSA] mix)
- pinch of salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ cup (40g) extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup (60g) maple syrup (or use honey or golden syrup)
- 2 tablespoons brown rice syrup (see above)
- ½ cup chopped prunes or apricots (or whole sultanas)
- ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (or almonds)
- Note: I do recommend not using paper cupcake liners as it seems no one has much luck removing the bars without extra bits of fibre sticking to them.
- Preheat the oven to 350F (about 160C fan-forced).
- Line a small to medium sized brownie pan with baking paper.
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and pour the mixture into the brownie pan.
- Pack the mixture down with a rubber spatula to a height of about 1.5 to 2cm. The taller, the more moist the bars (or adjust baking time accordingly).
- Bake for ½ hour, or until the bars have firmed up and are golden brown.
- Let cool before removing from the pan and cut into rectangles. Serve right away or store in an airtight container.
- Thermomix tips: If you can't buy pre-ground linseed, place whole seeds in TMX bowl and blitz on Speed 9 for 10 seconds. It's not important if not milled to a fine powder. You can also mill the quinoa flakes a little if you don't like the whole flakes. You can also chop the prunes and nuts with the Thermomix but I quite liked the bigger chunks of prune in my friend's bars so hand chop if you like the fruit to be more obvious. Same for the nuts.