Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, and is touted as being one of the lowest calorie vegetable out there. The stalks contain a number of nutrients including vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin K, and polyphenolic compounds like beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein. These compounds have numerous health benefitting effects.
Rhubarb has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine for lowering cholesterol, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, cholagogue (stimulates the gallbladder), demulcent, diuretic, laxative, and purgative actions as well as being a stomach tonic. More recently, extracts of rhubarb known as anthraquinones, have been found to possess promising anti-cancer properties 1.
If you have every chewed on a raw stalk of rhubarb, you know that it is very tart! One of the drawbacks to cooking with rhubarb is that often copious amounts of sugar are used to account for the tartness. The color of the stalks can change the taste; green stalks and flesh are typically more sour, pink or red stalks and flesh are somewhat sweeter. Another way to sweeten up rhubarb is to combine it with other sweet fruits and berries!
Here is a gluten-free Rhubarb Crisp recipe:
Preheat oven to 350o F.
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar*
1/2 tsp cornstarch
and mix with:
4 cups rhubarb chopped into 1/4" pieces
2 apples (a soft, sweet variety like MacIntosh are great), peeled if not organic, and chopped into 1/4" or smaller pieces
Pour rhubarb/apple/sugar mixture into a 9x9 inch square pan.
Drizzle with 1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup.
To make the topping, combine:
1 1/2 cup oats
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp coconut flour*
Cut in (with a pastry blender, or your fingers):
1/4 cup butter/coconut oil mixed (I use about 1/8 cup of each)
Pour the topping over the rhubarb/apple mixture, and pack down slightly. Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes, or until you see the fruit juices bubbling up around the edges of the pan, and the rhubarb and apples are soft!
(Oats are by nature gluten-free, however they are often cross-contaminated with wheat/gluten during processing, if you need 100% gluten-free, be sure to buy 100% gluten-free oats. Cornstarch can also contain trace amounts of wheat/gluten, so again, if you need 100% gluten-free, be sure to use certified gluten-free cornstarch)
*Coconut flour, and coconut palm sugar can usually be purchased in health food sections of grocery stores, and at bulk stores.
1 Q. Huang, G. Lu, H. M. Shen, M. C. Chung, and C. N. Ong, 'Anti-Cancer Properties of Anthraquinones from Rhubarb', Med Res Rev, 27 (2007), 609-30.