What are some words that come to mind when you think of rhubarb? Red… sour… what about Asian?
Rhubarbs have actually been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years and originated there before Marco Polo
brought the plant to Europe.
While you’re happily munching on rhubarb in a salad or pie, did you know that you are getting a lot more than great taste? Because it is a great source of fibre, the vegetable is popular for helping soothe stomach ailments such as relieving constipation. Rhubarb is also believed to possibly relieve fevers and swelling.
Besides helping with your digestive system, one serving of rhubarb could give you 45% of your daily recommended value of vitamin K! Vitamin K supports healthy bone growth and might limit neuronal damages in the brain. Rhubarb also contains vitamin C and A, powerful antioxidants that are helpful in maintaining elasticity in your skin and good vision. Don’t forget folate, riboflavin, niacin, B vitamins, manganese, iron, potassium and phosphorus, which are all vitamins and minerals present in rhubarb as well.
Pop Quiz: one cup of rhubarb and one cup of milk, which has more calcium?
They contain the equal amount. In fact, rhubarb is ranked alongside salmon and spinach for foods that contain the highest amounts of calcium.
Now that you know the benefits of rhubarb, you should know how to pick and use it!
We are most familiar with the red rhubarb, but in fact rhubarbs also come in colours of pink and green. However, the redder the stalk, the sweeter the rhubarb is. The stalks are delicious but…the leaves are high in oxalic acid! Oxalic acid is actually a poisonous, colourless substance which when ingested could lead to poisoning!
Preparation wise, rhubarbs can be eaten raw or cooked, and are very versatile in pies, punch, muffins, loaves, stews and salads. Because it is quite sour, you would usually pair it with something sweeter. You might also want to consider cooking it because researchers at Sheffield Hallam University have found that baking British garden rhubarb for 20 minutes will dramatically increase its levels of potentially anti-cancerous chemicals! Cooked rhubarb contains more polyphenol, which have been shown to selectively kill or prevent the growth of cancer cells. So cooking it might be the most beneficial for your body.
Here is a recipe of a twist on the classic strawberry and rhubarb pie – a strawberry rhubarb fruit bar!
- 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds or hazelnuts) or old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
- 3 cups diced strawberries (fresh or frozen)
- To prepare crust: combine 3/4 cup nuts (or oats), whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar and salt in a food processor; pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add butter; pulse until well incorporated.
- Whisk egg, oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla and almond extract in a small bowl. With the motor running, add the mixture to the food processor. Process, then pulse, scraping down the sides if necessary, until the mixture begins to clump, 30 to 45 seconds (it will look crumbly). Measure out 1/2 cup of the mixture and combine in a bowl with the remaining 1/4 cup chopped nuts (or oats). Set aside for the topping.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Generously coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Combine 2 cups strawberries, 2 cups rhubarb, orange juice, sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes. (It may take up to 10 minutes to get a thick result if you start with frozen fruit.) Stir in the remaining 1 cup strawberries and 1 cup rhubarb and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish. Spread evenly and press firmly into the bottom to form a crust. Spread the fruit filling over the crust. Sprinkle the reserved topping over the filling.
- Bake the bars for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and bake until the crust and topping are lightly brown, 25 to 30 minutes more. Let cool completely before cutting into bars, at least 1 1/2 hours.
"Baked Rhubarb Could Help Fight Cancer." ScienceDaily. Sheffield Hallam University, 12 Feb. 2010. Web. 25 Feb. 2016. <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100211212117.htm>.
Mercola, Joseph. "What Is Rhubarb Good For?" Mercola.com. Web. 25 Feb. 2016. <http://foodfacts.mercola.com/rhubarb.html>.
Payne, Daniela. "5 Ways Rhubarb Will Boost Your Health and 5 Tasty Rhubarb Recipes." Canadian Living Magazine. 10 June 2011. Web. 25 Feb. 2016. <http://www.canadianliving.com/blogs/health/2011/06/10/5-ways-rhubarb-will-boost-your-health-and-5-tasty-rhubarb-recipes/>.
"Strawberry-Rhubarb Fruit Bars." EatingWell. Sept.-Oct. 2010. Web. 25 Feb. 2016. <http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/strawberry_rhubarb_bars.html>.