Rhubarb is one of my favourite fruits. It was always the first to appear in our urban family garden each Spring season whereby I would cut the stalks in preparation for my mom’s delicious rhubarb crisp recipe. It also evokes special memories of visiting my grandparents in Brancepeth, Saskatchewan — Grandma frequently served a delicious sweet rhubarb desert with ice cream.
From an Eastern nutritional perspective, rhubarb is cooling, bitter in taste, and enters the large intestine meridian. Energetically it promotes blood circulation, regulates heat, and eliminates toxins. From a western perspective, rhubarb contains a good amount of calcium, potassium, manganese, vitamin K and C.
Although the following recipe uses rhubarb, feel free to get creative by swapping it with a variety of seasonal fruits. I’ve made them with strawberry and raspberry, as well as with cherry — all were delicious!
There’s something about a sweet and sour desert that leaves one feeling completely satisfied. The expansive nature of the sweet flavour and contractive force of the sour flavour compliment the mind and palate with a sense of gratitude and joy. Enjoy the colors, textures, and flavours of this Spring treat and share with others alongside a cup of tea.
Prep time: 10
Cook time: 60 minutes
Yields: 9 – 12 squares
- 5 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced, or seasonal fruit of choice
- 6 cups boiling water (only for rhubarb)
- 1 – 2 tbsp. coconut oil (optional — adds texture and creaminess)
- 3 tbsp. honey (for rhubarb)
- 2 tsp. Great Lakes gelatin, mixed with 2 – 3 tbsp. cold water, or 1/2 tsp. agar powder mixed with 2 tsp. cold water
- 1/2 cup coconut flour (I used ‘Let’s Do Organic‘ brand. See note for a coconut-free crust)
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk (I like Aroy-D brand)
- 3 tbsp. coconut oil
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup
- Wash then thinly slice the fresh rhubarb. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot. Add the rhubarb to the water, turn off the heat, cover, and let the rhubarb cook in the residual heat for 10 – 15 minutes. If you are using other seasonal fruits, simply prepare and place in a saucepan. Bring the fruit to a simmer, mash with a fork, and stir.
- Drain the water from the rhubarb then add 3 tablespoons of coconut oil to the saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat, uncovered. Stir occasionally until the rhubarb (or other fruit) reduces by about half — most of the water will evaporate and the mixture will thicken. This will take around 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the crust. Preheat your oven to 325F and grease an 8X8 inch pan with coconut oil. Add the measured coconut flour into a medium sized mixing bowl and melt the coconut oil. Pour the melted coconut oil onto the flour, add the remaining ingredients, and mix. Press into the baking pan and transfer to your pre-heated oven to bake for 17 – 20 minutes or until golden around the edges. Remove from oven and let the crust cool completely. If the weather is cool you can place the pan outside to speed up the setting process of the crust.
- Mix together the gelatin or agar powder and water in a small bowl. Add this to the reduced rhubarb mixture, along with the honey, and stir well. Taste and adjust — add more honey if you desire a sweeter treat. Turn the heat off and take the saucepan off of the stove element to let the mixture slightly cool.
- Pour the rhubarb mixture onto the cooled crust and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. You can speed the setting process by placing the pan into your freezer for 1/2 hour to an hour (agar takes less time to set).
- Slice into desired sized pieces and keep refrigerated. Garnish with a dollop of full fat coconut milk and top with a piece of sliced strawberry.
- For low fodmap use clover honey.
- For low histamine choose from the following fruits: rhubarb, apple, apricot, most berries (except red ones), cherry, pear, permission, and pomegranate.
- Rhubarb Cherry Bars: Combine 3 cups of frozen rhubarb with 2 cups frozen, pitted cherries in a large saucepan. Bring the fruit to a light simmer without water and continue with the above directions. The cherries sweeten the mixture so you may feel that the honey is unnecessary. The garnish in the photo below is basil pesto (fresh basil blended with olive or avocado oil and sea salt) and frozen raspberry crumbles. *Cherries are not low fodmap.
- If you are using fresh rhubarb for the above variation you may want to blanch the rhubarb (step 1 and 2) for 5 – 10 minutes before simmering with the cherries.
- Strawberry Raspberry Bars: Combine 3 cups of strawberries (fresh or frozen) with 2 cups of raspberries in a saucepan. Bring to a light simmer and stir every so often until the mixture reduces, approximately 20 – 30 minutes. Honey isn’t necessary for this variation.
- Coconut free crust (not AIP-friendly): 2 cups gluten free rolled oats (only oats) slow-blended in a blender or food processor until it reaches the texture of quick oats + 1/2 – 3/4 cup hempseed + 1/4 cup maple syrup + 1/4 cup ghee (or nut/seed butter) + almond or tiger nut milk (add just enough so that the mixture sticks together) + pinch of sea salt. Mix and press into an oiled 8X8 inch pan. Bake at 350F for approximately 12 minutes. Resume with directions above.
Leggett, Daverick. Helping Ourselves: A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics. Totnes, England: Meridian Press, 2005.