May 11, 2011

By Contributor Jennifer Vagios, MS RD

Once Spring has sprung I, like many, anxiously wait for the first sign of ripe and juicy berries that are just waiting to be tossed into muffins, oatmeal, and smoothies. If people were crazy enough to wait on line for strawberries, I’d be one of them.

However, when it comes to the sturdy stalk known as rhubarb for some reason it gets bypassed and often overlooked, like when you were the last person to be chosen as a team member for dodge ball (I was the scrawny kid). Also known as the “pie plant” I’m pretty sure I thought rhubarb was a hybrid or some kind of fancy celery the first time I caught a glimpse of it.

It’s quite possible that if you’ve had any experience with the stalky vegetable you’re likely more inclined to treat it like a fruit because of it’s massively tart characteristic. Have no fear, I made it quite edible by mingling it with the popular kid known as the strawberry. While I didn’t have a romantic tale to share about how I grew up growing and plucking my own rhubarb, I will surely embrace it for years to come.

 Rhubarb Highlights:
 Rhubarb: It’s very friendly when teamed up with other fruit, and I don’t mean just berries, may I suggest you try peaches? I don’t believe there are any rhubarb rules, mix it up with anything, just not ground turkey, that doesn’t so sound good.
Nutritionally: It’s loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin A and potassium and will bone up your health having 10% Calcium per 1 cup serving. Guess what? Milk isn’t the only thing that does a body good.
Buying: Rhubarb stalks are ready to go once Spring hits (so don’t ignore them), just make sure that you choose crisp, firm, glossy and plump stalks (the sweetest are the brightest in color). If not using immediately, refrigerate, tightly wrapped in plastic and use within a few days.

 Everyone deserves a sweet treat here and there, so enjoy!

 

 

Rhubarberry Muffin Cakes
Equipment:
Muffin Pan
Muffin liners (optional)
Hand Mixer (or standmixer)
Makes: 16 muffin cakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 stick butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, chopped (1/2-inch pieces)
  • 1/1/2 cup fresh strawberries, chopped (into quarters)

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 Pre-Prep:

Wash and chop strawberries and rhubarb.

 Methods:

1.  Beat honey and butter together in a large bowl until nice and creamy.

2.  Add the flour, baking soda and eggs.

3.  Beat well.

4.  Add the chopped fruit and stir to combine evenly.

5.  Using a ice cream scoop (cause this makes life easier and creates uniformity) scoop batter into individual muffin tins. 

6. Bake for 40 minutes until golden.

 p.s. A scoop of ice cream of frozen yogurt would go really well on to of one of these puppies if served immediately out of the oven.

Photos and Recipe By: Jennifer Vagios MS RD

 Cook's Tips:
Alternatively, you may use half white flour and wheat flour, or another fun flour that I like playing with is spelt flour.

Instead of using honey you might also try rice syrup (which is less sweet, so you might need to use 3/4 of a cup) or maple syrup.

I’m a fan of eating what you really want to eat, enjoying it, and savoring it. However, if for some reason you’d like to play around with the butter, you can likely replace half or all of it with applesauce.

Do you have a favorite Spring has sprung now it’s time for rhubarb recipe?

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