Rhubarb brings back fond memories of when I was young. I treasure the memories of when I used to go out with my grandmother and pick wild rhubarb. They grew in abundance down by a small pond out in the middle of nowhere, in high prairie lands that looked like desert. What an amazing fruit to withstand extreme winter cold, high winds and not so fertile soil.
I must say that rhubarb is quite resilient; the fruit strengthens itself against the elements by producing various nutrients and a stunning color.
Rhubarb is one of the first spring wonders. The stalks kind of look like large celery but are brightly colored pinkish green or magenta.
Now if you have ever tasted fresh rhubarb, you know that it is quite tart. Known as the “pie plant” for its juice that thickens when cooked, rhubarb has tender translucent fibers. It pairs nicely with other sweet fruits like peaches, strawberries, raspberries or apples for the perfect pie or crisp.
Health Benefits of Rhubarb
Rhubarb is loaded with vitamins, minerals and health benefits. As well, it is one of the least calorie vegetables. Yes, rhubarb is a vegetable not a fruit. However, in 1947 a New York court decided that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it is considered a fruit for the purpose of regulations and lower taxes (at the time, tariffs were higher for vegetables than fruits that were imported).
Rhubarb is an ancient plant traced back to China 2700 BC. It was utilized for numerous medicinal purposes such as cleansing the body, to reduce fever and as a laxative. Today it is being researched as a treatment for Alzheimer due to its high vitamin K levels. Other nutrients include:
- Vitamins A, C and K
- A long list of antioxidants
- High in potassium, calcium and manganese
- B-complex vitamins like folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid
Selecting Choice Rhubarb
Fresh small stalks from the garden are best. However, there are two main types of rhubarb that can be found in the store.
There are the traditional thick greener stalks and the intense colored more slender stalks (hothouse rhubarb).
The deep red color of hothouse rhubarb makes a more attractive dish but is more tart intense. On the other hand, the greener variety has a milder flavor are requires less sweetener.
Regardless of color, pick stalks that are crisp and firm with a shiny skin. Disregard stalk that are rubbery; they tend to be too fibrous and dry.
When preparing, wash the stalks well and trim off dry ends and leaves. Resist peeling any of the skin off, it holds all the color and flavor.
Moreover, please do not eat the leaves; they contain oxalic acid and other toxins which is normal, e.g. tomatoes, etc.
Now mind you, this is healthy version of an award winning recipe. Being a professional baker and health nut, I had to experiment with a traditional recipe (high in sugar) and come up with a good-for-you version. Of course I use organic ingredients plus substitute white sugar with Organic Turbinado Sugar and cornstarch with Arrowroot Powder . Please note that almost all cornstarch is GMO’d.
Also, I use Himalayan Pink Salt because most of our sea salt is now questionable due to the pollutants in our oceans.
Much to my delight, this healthy rhubarb raspberry crisp is so much better! Feel free to substitute the raspberries for other fruits. Rhubarb pairs well with apples, strawberries or peaches!
- 4 cups rhubarb, sliced 1" thick
- 1 cup fresh raspberries, may substitute frozen
- 1 cup raw turbinado sugar
- 1 orange, zest and juice (may substitute lemon)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons arrowroot
- ½ cup unsalted butter (plus 2 TBLES for dotting, optional)
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 1 cup almonds, sliced thin
- ½ cup gluten-free flour ( can substitute with whole wheat flour)
- ½ cup raw turbinado sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon (may substitute allspice)
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
- Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C)
- Oil an an 8 x 8 glass baking dish
- In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, raspberries, 1 cup turbinado sugar, orange zest and juice, vanilla extract, and arrowroot. Let set for 20 minutes at room temperature.
- In a small pan, slightly melt ½ cup butter
- In medium bowl, add oats, sliced almonds, gluten-free flour, ½ cup raw turbinado sugar, cinnamon and Himalayan salt. Pour in melted butter, mix well
- Pour the rhubarb raspberry filling into a prepared baking dish. Evenly sprinkle the topping over the filling. Dot with small pieces of butter (2 TBLS) if desired.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until filling is bubbling and the top is golden. Let cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Serve as is or with lightly sweetened fresh whipped cream or French vanilla ice cream. Garnish with organic powdered sugar, a few fresh strawberries or raspberries.
- Diet Type: Gluten-Free
- If cooking in ramekins, bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Can substitute almonds for walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts.
- Optional fruit substitutes for raspberries are apples, peaches or strawberries.
- Adjust sweetener; if raspberries are sour (add more), it they are sweeter (add less).
Rhubarb Raspberry Crisp with whipped cream : Janet Hudson via photopin cc
Close up of rhubarb raspberry crisp: Janet Hudson via photopin cc
Fresh rhubarb and raspberries: felibrilu via photopin cc
Rhubarb Raspberry Crisp in ramekin: radloff via photopin cc
Rhubarb Raspberry Crisp sprinkled with organic powdered sugar: sfgamchick via photopin cc