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When I think of rhubarb, I often think of strawberries in some type of delicious dessert served with ice cream. Does that sound familiar? While rhubarb is often cooked with fruit to round out it’s tart flavour, it can also be served in a variety of savory dishes. It can be roasted and added to a green salad, made into a chutney or chopped, seasoned and served as a salsa. More often than not however, rhubarb is combined with fruit and cooked or baked into delicious loaves, pies, tarts, sorbet, jams and compotes.

Rhubarb’s long red stalk offers a punch of colour and an unexpected nutritional profile. According to Dr. Mercola’s Food Facts, fiber is one of rhubarb’s main health benefits. It is often used in ancient Chinese medicine to sooth stomach ailments and relieving constipation.

Here are some of the unexpected nutrients 1 cup of rhubarb has to offer:

  • about 4 grams of fibre,
  •  provides 45% of the daily value in vitamin K and almost as much calcium as 1 cup of milk – both of which help support bone health.
  • good source of vitamins A and C  – powerful antioxidants and help support the immune system
  • source of flavonoid compounds beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin – antioxidants that protect the skin and eyes from free radical damage. Also converts to vitamin A in the body.
  • source of B vitamins, folate, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid
  • source of minerals such as manganese, iron, potassium, and phosphorus.

When buying rhubarb, look for firm crisp stalks, rather than floppy ones, to ensure freshness. Remove the stalk from it’s poisonous leaf by cutting about 1 inch below the leaf and 1 inch above the root.  This will ensure minimal exposure to the poisonous oxalic acid found in the leaf.  FYI, small amounts of oxalic acid can also be found in other leafy greens such as spinach, however, the levels are not as toxic as those in the rhubarb leaf.

Rhubarb can be enjoyed on its own, or combined with fruit such as strawberries, to add sweetness to its naturally tart flavour.   It is often stewed or baked into a delicious dessert, or combined with fruit and made into a jam or compote. However you decide to serve it, it’s interesting flavour will be a welcome addition to any sweet or savoury dish. Below find an easy recipe for a strawberry rhubarb oat bar crisp. The filling is made with a chia seed strawberry rhubarb jams, also quite simple to make. Try it out before it’s too late!

Strawberry Rhubarb Oat Bar Crisp – Adapted from Sweet Potato Chronicles

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup Kamut flour
  • 1/3 cup packed coconut sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup strawberry rhubarb jam
  • 3 tablespoons orange/lemon juice,

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 and grease a 8×8 in. baking pan. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix oats, flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Add melted butter and 3 tablespoons of the lemon or orange juice. Mix well.

Press all but ½ cup of the oat mixture into a prepared baking pan. Spread jam evenly over mixture. Top loosely with reserved ½ cup of oats. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

For the Filling,

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of chopped fresh strawberries and rhubarb
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chia sees
  • Grated lemon zest

Directions

In a medium-sized pot, cook the chopped strawberries and rhubarb until they come to a boil. Mash and reduce to a simmer, add the maple syrup and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add in chia seeds and stir well. Add in grated lemon rind, if using. As the mixture cools, the jam will begin to thicken. Place in a mason jar and chill for a least an hour before serving. Store in the refrigerator for about 2-3 weeks! Adapted from Kale and Chocolate.