Hooray! Spring is finally in the air!

Nothing says spring like fresh and local produce.  Jon and I went to our local Farmer’s Market for the first time a few weekends ago, and although the local pickings were slim this early in the season, it still felt so wonderful to be out and about chatting with local farmers.

One item that you will start to see this time of year is rhubarb.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb is not typically something you find in a grocery store, although some carry it, but you will see it at markets and likely growing in the backyards of people you know – or even your own.   It’s a perennial plant, meaning it grows back year after year and I’m told by many people that it is a pretty hearty plant that requires very little maintenance to grow back bigger and better every year.  My mom had a rhubarb plant when I was younger, but she actually pulled it  out because she found that it was overtaking a corner of the yard and she wasn’t using it (mother, what were you thinking!?)

Rhubarb plants have long red stalks, which are the edible part, and big green leaves which should not be eaten as they have toxic levels of oxalates (thank goodness I googled before I threw some in my smoothie). It is actually a vegetable, although some people consider it a fruit because its typically used in fruit-type recipes.  For those who have never tried rhubarb, I would describe it’s taste in one word – tart!  If you were to take a big bite of raw rhubarb, be prepared for some lip puckering as it’s pretty sour, which is why it is not typically eaten raw. (On a side note, remember when I talked about exposing babies to a variety of different flavours as young as possible?  Rhubarb is such a great vegetable to introduce early to wake up their taste buds!)

Rhubarb is healthy of course, and is most notably recognized for its high fibre content, it’s detoxification abilities and for relieving constipation.

I only started eating rhubarb last spring.  Prior to that, the only time I had ever really been exposed to it was in pie form.  I’m not a big pie fan, so I just never bothered to try it.  Once I started to learn more about nutrition, I was always looking for new vegetables to add to my diet, so when I saw some rhubarb at the market one weekend I bought it on impulse.  After doing some research online, I decided to try my first taste of rhubarb in a bowl of oatmeal.  After that I was hooked, and made a bunch of recipes last year while it was in season.  The tartness of rhubarb definitely goes well with anything sweet – not just pie!

Jon’s mom grows rhubarb in her garden so she has been kind enough to share some of it with us.  This year, I’ve decided to branch out and see if I could incorporate rhubarb into some savoury dishes (since I’m a savoury girl at heart).  There are actually quite a few interesting recipes out there – I’ve tried a couple of them and plan on trying more over the next few weeks.

So, now that I’ve got you all excited to give rhubarb a try, here are some recipe ideas for you to start with – including one of my own.

Sweet

Rhubarb is best known for being paired with something sweet (to offset the sourness) so I put this category first.  I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I tend to really enjoy sweet dishes that include rhubarb because I like that bit of tartness.  Remember, sweet doesn’t always mean bad for you and most of these could be eaten for breakfast.  Here are some of my favourites:

Strawberry Rhubarb Oat Bars by Kids Heart Real Food

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp by Jesse Lane Wellness
Rhubarb Crisp by Jenn Feeds
Rhubarb Ginger Muffins by Rosanna’s Kitchen
Rhubarb Berry Baked Oatmeal by Edible Perspective
Strawberry Rhubarb Breakfast Dessert Cake by Meghan Telpner
Rhubarb Chia Jam by A Couple Cooks

Drinks

There are actually quite a few rhubarb drink recipes out there.  I’ve put rhubarb into a couple of my smoothies and it is such a great addition!

Rhubarb Lemonade by My Real Food Life
Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie by Peanut Butter and Peppers
Red Raspberry Rhubarb Limeade by Delicious Obsessions
Creamy Mango and Rhubarb Smoothie by Craving Greens

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Savoury

The less well-known use of rhubarb is in savoury recipes.  It is surprisingly good and can add a fun twist to everyday dishes:

Chicken Thighs with Ginger Rhubarb Sauce by My Life Runs on Food
Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce by Edible Perspective
Rhubarb Lentil Sweet Potato Stew by My New Roots
Sweet and Sour Rhubarb Chicken by In Sock Monkey Slippers
Rhubarb Salsa by 3 Guys and a Stove
Noodles with Kale and Spicy Rhubarb Sauce by Naturally Ella

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So with all of these great recipe options, you don’t have any excuse not to give rhubarb a try right?  For those of you who are trying it for the first time – let me know how you like it!

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