| Rhubarb – It’s Not Just for Crisps!
by Stacey Tress
Hello, my friends, and thank you for following along on another article of mine. It’s been a few years now that I’ve had the pleasure to contribute to WHOLifE on a regular basis. I very much enjoy writing the “Mindful Eating” articles and sharing my knowledge and passion for good food with you all.
I’m writing this article in March knowing it will come out in the May/June issue. Today I’m at home and moving snow away from the house as the temperatures are rising and snow is melting. I went into the freezer to do some meal prep for tonight and came across various fruits we had frozen from last year. My girls LOVE their frozen fruit. Raspberries, strawberries, Saskatoon berries, and blueberries are their favourites. We tend to start perusing and cleaning out the freezer this time of year to make room for the upcoming harvest! Must be the sun that gets us thinking that maybe, just maybe, this winter is coming to an end.
May/June is a beautiful time on the Prairies. Asparagus is up (I fondly recall our huge patch in Yorkton that was typically starting to be harvestable by Mother’s Day), and self-seeding spinach is usually ready to harvest.
I want to chat about one of the fruits I pulled from my freezer and what to do with it. It’s quite possible that if I have them in my freezer, you may, too!
When we moved to Rhein, our inherited garden was rather bleak in my opinion…but it did have an established rhubarb patch and peonies. Thankfully, we were gifted some lovely rhubarb plants from a friend in Yorkton, as rhubarb wasn’t one of the plants we transplanted from our place in Yorkton when we moved.
Rhubarb grows pretty abundantly all over the Prairies—its tartness and large stalks are enjoyed by all. I wish my family enjoyed “crisp” recipes, but they don’t. Usually folks do the strawberry/rhubarb pie or jam, but for us the juice from this plant is what gets us excited….which, by the way, isn’t really a fruit but a vegetable! I love that some of the references for rhubarb say it grows in cold climates like Tibet, Somalia, and China—let’s not forget that many places in Saskatchewan just experienced their coldest winter in 80 years with windchill temperatures around –45°C (there were many a no-bus day out here as rural bus routes cancel when it’s –40°C).
I’ll chat on what I do with rhubarb juice. Oh! and a cautionary note -> the leaves are toxic (although I hear they make a great mosquito spray?! Has anyone got any thoughts on this?).
Rhubarb Juice: The juice of rhubarb is very good for health as it contains essential minerals like phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, and copper. It also has copious amounts of vitamin B complex. I love this plant as it grows so great in our climate and we use the stalks, cooked down and strained, to make rhubarb juice. Usually we use the juice in second ferments for kombucha or water kefir, but it’s so versatile and adds zest to salad dressing, BBQ sauce, glazes (like honey rhubarb sesame chicken), juices, and more.
Health Benefits of Rhubarb Juice
1. Decreases the Incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease
Rhubarb has large amounts of vitamin K, which is considered to be very essential for brain development. Its main function is to prevent neuronal damage that happens in the brain due to Alzheimer’s disease, which is a type of dementia that occurs in aging. Consuming rhubarb juice everyday not only delays but might altogether prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Abundance of antioxidants present in rhubarb fights the presence of free radicals in the body and eliminates them. Sagging skin and wrinkles may be cured by ingesting vitamin C that is found in rhubarb, thereby delaying the process of aging and also preventing premature aging.
3. Strengthens Bones
Due to its abundance of calcium, rhubarb juice is an ideal tonic to strengthen bones and sustain their strength. The rhubarb stalk is also enriched with vitamin K, which is considered to be a very important vitamin for bone development. People with osteoporosis and other bone-related disorders can draw great benefits by consuming rhubarb juice.
An interesting and contradictory side note -> Rhubarb is an oxalic food, like cranberries, plums, spinach, chard, and beet leaves. This means it is full of calcium, but also binds calcium. For people with a healthy gut (a healthy digestive system), oxalates will pass through the stool or urine without causing problems. It’s kind of a complicated subject, but the take-home message is that the calcium to oxalate ratio is more important than the high levels of oxalate. Keep eating your calcium and you have nothing to worry about!
4. Reduces Cholesterol Levels
Due to low levels of sodium and saturated fats in rhubarb, it is considered ideal for lowering the levels of cholesterol. Low cholesterol prevents a lot of heart-related diseases and ensures optimal heart health. Chances of coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest, and stroke are reduced to minimal by regularly consuming rhubarb juice. Low cholesterol levels also prevent blockages in arteries and veins which, in itself, is very important for proper heart and entire cardiovascular functioning.
5. Cures Constipation
Anthraquinone is a compound which has laxative properties. It prevents the stool from getting hard and eases the process of defecation. The root and stem of rhubarb is enriched with this compound, therefore it helps a great deal in easing the digestion process and enables the intestines to work properly.
Got a diet high in meat consumption? Mushrooms, rhubarb root/stem, radish, and daikon radish are especially effective in reducing toxicity resulting from overconsumption of meat. Rhubarb root and stem are the strongest of these remedies and have laxative properties.
6. Enhances Digestive Health
The astringent properties of rhubarb juice make it the best tonic for enhancing digestive health. A wide range of benefits can be extracted from these properties, including improvement in peristaltic movements, prevention of intestinal issues, and easing chronic constipation. Overall digestive health is significantly improved as a result of consuming rhubarb juice regularly.
7. Can Reduce Cancer Risk
It might come as a surprise that centuries-old Tibetan and Chinese traditional medicine include rhubarb as a curing herb for various ailments. Due to its anti-tumour properties, along with copious amounts of aloe-emodin and rhein, rhubarb helps combat tumour cells in the body. Rhubarb juice is highly beneficial when consumed by patients with gastric cancer because of its amazing medicinal properties for digestive health. Research has also shown that rhubarb juice consumption provides faster recovery post-surgery.
8. Boosts Immunity
Vitamin C is considered to be an essential nutrient in boosting immunological health by strengthening leukocytes. Rhubarb juice contains great amounts of vitamin C and therefore is highly important for enhancing immune system functioning.
What To Do With Rhubarb Juice?
As I mentioned earlier in the article, my favourite way to enjoy this juice is to mix with either kombucha or water kefir in what’s known as a second ferment.
To make rhubarb juice, you’ve got a couple of options: 1) put through a juicer, or 2) chop up, cook down, and strain the juice. Although I do have a juicer, I still prefer the latter because I find it more practical, especially when using frozen rhubarb stalks. I take the frozen stalks and snap them in half, add to a medium pot with a few cups of water and cook down. This may not be the perfect “how to” process—as I’ve googled so many ways to make this juice—but most recipes called for fresh stalks and mine are frozen.
(Yields 1 litre)
• Take finished kombucha (I like day 6–7)
• Pour into a 1L glass jar about 1/2 way to 3/4 full depending on how strong you like it
• Finish off with rhubarb juice (can add a tsp sugar but not necessary)
• Cap and let rest on counter 1–3 days; check/burp daily
• Refrigerate and enjoy
Festive and Fresh—Red Rhubarb and Green Juice
6 leaves kale (Tuscan cabbage)
1 rhubarb stalk*
1 in. (2.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger root
Wash all ingredients well.
Add ingredients through juicer. *Note: Be sure to juice the rhubarb stalk only, not the leaves. Also, rhubarb is very high in oxalates. For those with kidney stones or other health concerns, substitute the rhubarb for another favourite red fruit or vegetable like radish or strawberries.
Serve and enjoy!
Serving Size: 16–18 oz (500 ml)
Rhubarb Poppy Seed Dressing
1/2 cup rhubarb juice
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp poppy seeds
Using a small food processor or a narrow, tall container ideal for an immersion blender, combine rhubarb juice, honey, red wine vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Blend well.
Slowly blend canola oil into rhubarb mixture to create a creamy dressing.
Stir in poppy seeds.
Drizzle over prepared salad.
Note: To get a creamy texture that will stay blended, it’s important to add the canola oil slowly with the blender going.
This dressing can be stored in the fridge for 5 days.
Rhubarb Kombucha—Garden Therapy Yorkton GT Bliss
Red Rhubarb and Green Juice www.rebootwithjoe.com/festively-fresh-red-rhubarb-green-juice/
Rhubarb Poppy Seed Dressing www.gettystewart.com/rhubarb-poppyseed-dressing/
Discovering Nutrition by Paul Insel,
R. Elaine Turner, Don Ross
Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford
Stacey Tress, a Holistic Nutritional Therapist (HNT) and Young Living Essential Oil Distributor (#2282633), lives in Rhein, SK, with her husband and two daughters. She is the owner of Garden Therapy Yorkton – GT Bliss which offers fermentation workshops, active culture kits, permaculture consulting, essential oils, and more! To learn
more call 306-641-4239, email email@example.com and/or Facebook “Garden Therapy Yorkton – GT Bliss.” Webpage: www.gardentherapybliss.ca. Also see the display ad on page 9 of the 25.1 May/June issue of the WHOLifE Journal.