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Rhubarb – Growing and Cooking this Early Spring Vegetable

Growing Rhubarb

When you hear “rhubarb”, what comes to mind? For most people, it’s likely rhubarb pie, right? The next most familiar term is probably rhubarb jam.

The problem with traditional rhubarb recipes is that they have so much sugar. Of course, they’re tasty, but since it’s widely known that sugar is one of the leading causes of so many of the diseases of today, we’re always on the lookout for healthier substitutes for these old favorites.

So we’ve included a few recipes on the next pages, but first, for those new to rhubarb, here is what it is and how you grow it!

Rhubarb: Fruit or Vegetable, and Which Parts are Edible?

Thought to originate in Siberia, Rhubarb is officially a vegetable, though it tends to be thought of as a fruit because of it’s use in pies and marmalade. Only the stalks, which can be green, red, spotted or in between, are edible.

DO NOT EAT RHUBARB LEAVES as they are considered to have a toxic and poisonous level of oxalic acid.1)

Medicinally, rhubarb has been used for centuries as a laxative, but it also makes an effective poultice for relieving fevers and swelling.2)

Harvesting Rhubarb

Harvest rhubarb throughout the growing season, tapering off as the plant production diminishes, anywhere from mid-summer to fall. Rhubarb is a perennial that gains strength over the first two to three years as it establishes itself, so trim the longest stalks for use but leave enough to give the plant energy reserves for winter.


Benefits of Rhubarb

Alzheimer’s foe, infection fighter, antioxidant friend to skin, sinuses and membranes, and fierce cancer opponent. After all that, rhubarb also contains more calcium than a glass of milk, and rivals spinach and salmon in calcium content.

As with many fruits and vegetables, the darker the color, the more the beneficial nutrients, so with rhubarb, the red stems provide more nutrition than the green.

  • Fights infection
  • Powerful antioxidant
  • Good skin 
  • Mucous membranes
  • Good vision
  • Protection against lung and mouth cancers (studies in progress indicate)

Every serving of rhubarb provides 45% of the daily value in vitamin K, which supports healthy bone growth and can limit neuronal damage in the brain, even to the point of Alzheimer’s prevention.3)

Rhubarb Nutrition

Based on % of Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)

growing rhubarb plant


Healthy Rhubarb Recipes

Okay… we’re going to get to the rhubarb dessert, but first, rhubarb salad as a dinner side dish!

Rhubarb Salad with Goat Cheese

Recipe from MarthaStewart.com5)

Rhubarb Healthy Recipes


  • 3/4 pound rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (preferably white)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 bunches arugula (about 1 pound total), tough ends removed
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss rhubarb with honey. Roast on upper rack until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet. On another rimmed baking sheet, toast walnuts on lower rack until fragrant, 5 minutes. Let cool, then chop.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add arugula and fennel and toss to combine. Top with rhubarb, walnuts, and goat cheese.

Thanks to for this special recipe.6)

Next up is a Rhubarb Crisp that’s also low carb and gluten free.


Rhubarb Crisp – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Recipe by Carolyn at AllDayIDreamAboutFood.com7)
Yield: Serves 12


Rhubarb recipe
Rhubarb crisp, image by


Crisp Topping:
    • 1¼ cup almond flour
    • ½ cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
    • ⅓ cup golden flax seed meal
    • ⅓ cup pecan or walnut pieces
    • ¼ cup Swerve Erythritol Sweetener, Stevia, or other sweetener*
    • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ¼ teaspoon liquid stevia extract (or 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup)


  • 2 pounds rhubarb, sliced into ½-inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup Swerve Erythritol Sweetener or other erythritol sweetener
  • ¼ cup ground chia seeds (you can grind whole chia seeds in a coffee grinder)
  • ¼ tsp liquid stevia extract

*Other sweeteners we use: coconut, date, or beet sugar, maple syrup, honey, sorghum or molasses.


  1. For the topping, preheat oven to 300F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, shredded coconut, flax seed meal, pecan or walnut pieces, erythritol sweetener, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the butter, vanilla and stevia extract.
  3. Add butter to the almond flour mixture and use a pastry cutter or two knives to blend in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Spread out evenly on prepared baking sheet and pat down with hands to flatten slightly.
  4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Remove and let cool completely.
  5. For the filling, preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, erythritol sweetener, ground chia seeds and stevia extract, tossing to coat rhubarb well.
  6. Spread rhubarb mixture into a 9×13 inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until mixture is bubbling and rhubarb is tender.
  7. Remove filling from oven and remove foil. Break cooled topping into pieces with your hand and place over filling to cover completely. Serve warm. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Serves 12. Each serving has 11 g of carbs and 6 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 5 g.
199 Calories; 17g Fat (59.6% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 16mg Cholesterol; 165mg Sodium

Thanks to the beautiful Kate of for this awesomely delicious and nutritious rhubarb crisp recipe!8)
Thanks to the lovely Carolyn at, for testing and tweaking this recipe to end up with a delicious and nutritious rhubarb crisp!9)

Rhubarb Chia Jam

By Kate of

Easy, healthy rhubarb jam recipe made with chia seeds and honey. Tastes great on toast! The rhubarb chia jam is gluten-free and easily made vegan.
  • 1 pound fresh rhubarb, leafy ends removed, stalks chopped across into ¼-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons honey, or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or orange juice
  1. Combine chopped rhubarb and sweetener in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the rhubarb is mostly submerged in liquid. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the chia seeds.
  2. Continue cooking, while stirring frequently and reducing heat as necessary to prevent scorching, for 25 to 30 minutes, until there are no big chunks of rhubarb left and the jam drips slowly off your spoon.
  3. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the lemon or orange juice. Let the mixture cool, then cover and refrigerate. The jam should keep for a week or two in the refrigerator.10)

Thanks to the beautiful Kate for this simply delicious and nutritious rhubarb chia jam! We’re ready to plant rhubarb!

Have any favorite Rhubarb recipes to share? Let us know! We love to hear from you, on Gardens All Facebook page or via email.

We’re ready to plant some rhubarb. How about you?

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