Super food: Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a rustic red plant that is ready to harvest early spring from the field or your own home garden. This vegetable is a herbaceous perennial, indicating that it will last over two years blooming in the spring and summer months. The plant will then perish in autumn and winter but return again from its rootstock the following spring. Quite the exciting concept for new gardeners who plant Rhubarb…they thought it was a goner; but the plant came back the very next spring! In warmer climates Rhubarb will grow year round. In more temperate climates, rhubarb can be grown in heated greenhouses (a.k.a. hothouses) throughout the year that actually produces sweeter, brighter red stalk compared to outdoor cultivated rhubarb. Rhubarb is commonly associated with a bright crimson color, the flesh can vary on the color gradation scale all the way from pale green, pink, and to deep red which is more popular with consumers.

The Chinese have used rhubarb in medicine for thousands of years. Certain components of the rhubarb root are dried, encapsulated or consumed in the form of liquids and teas.  These preparations were applied to relieving constipation, treating stomach issues, and relieving tissue swelling or fevers. Today rhubarb-containing supplements are still used as a mild laxative for relief of occasional constipation.

Why is it healthy?

The bright color of rhubarb is a side effect of the anthocyanin concentration in the plants flesh.  Anthocyanins are phytochemicals found in a variety of brightly pigmented fruits and vegetables that act as an antioxidant and may also contribute anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-viral properties!

One cup of chopped red rhubarb:

–       16% of your daily vitamin C

–       Almost half of your daily vitamin K requirements

–       10% of your daily potassium

–       10% of your daily calcium (Unfortunately this plant derived form of calcium is not as readily absorbed by the body)

Including Rhubarb in your diet-

When shopping for fresh rhubarb, purchase those that feel heavy and crisp but also have a tight shiny skin no matter the color of the flesh. Cooking with green rhubarb will be just as good as using the red ones. Avoid any damaged, dry or rubbery stalks if you can help it. Thoroughly wash your rhubarb, cutting off the dry ends before wrapping loosely in plastic to store in your crisper drawer. If you are harvesting an abundance of rhubarb from your garden, cut up into small pieces and freeze for later use.

Recipe Ideas:

–          Rhubarb Compote ( in this month’s newsletter)

–          Wholegrain Rhubarb Breakfast Muffins

–          Rhubarb Crisp

–          Pork and Rhubarb Stir-fry

–          Orange Rhubarb Chutney

–          Pickled Rhubarb

–          Spring Salad with Rhubarb vinaigrette

–          Rhubarb Cookies

–          Rhubarb Wine

Did you know that…

The leafy part of the Rhubarb plant actually contains toxic substances including oxalic acid, which is corrosive and may cause toxic damage to the kidneys. This is why it is essential to trim and discard the leaves before cooking with this vegetable. Rhubarb that has been frostbitten or damaged by the cold should not be eaten as the oxalic acid may have leached from the leaves into the stalk, increasing risk of poisoning.

 

 

 

 

May 2, 2014
Revive Wellness