The lilacs are in full bloom and fresh garden rhubarb is now ready to eat. Rhubarb is one of the first fruits available on the Canadian prairies and prairie cooks have come up with lots of ways to use it: there are rhubarb pies, rhubarb crisps, rhubarb jam, rhubarb relish, cobblers, and cakes. We think of rhubarb as a fruit but it is classified as a vegetable. Even if you do not grow rhubarb, you can usually pick some up at the farmer’s market, as it is in season right now. Research shows that rhubarb may be beneficial for people with diabetes and insulin resistance as it mimics the action of insulin, allowing the sugar to enter the cell, where it may be burned instead of circulating in the blood. If you would like to reduce sugar and calories, you can use monk fruit sweetener instead of sugar. Rhubarb is also a good source of fiber, vitamin K, and vitamin C. The red colour of rhubarb is because it is a rich source of anthocyanins which are anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and have anti-cancer properties. Rhubarb is not a good food choice for those people that are prone to oxalate kidney stones.
Rolled oats are believed to decrease the risk of heart failure and cardiovascular disease by slowing down the buildup of plaque inside the blood vessels. Oats contain a fiber called beta-glucan, which has been proven to have the beneficial effect of removing cholesterol from the digestive tract before it can enter the bloodstream. Nutrients in the oats called avenanthramides, help to protect the good LDL cholesterol from oxidation for over two hours after you have eaten oats. Oats help to stabilize blood sugar, which may be beneficial for people with diabetes, insulin-resistant metabolic syndrome and obesity
Did you know lilac blossoms are edible and have health benefits for the eyes? You can make a lilac tea by steeping the blossoms in hot water. Strain the blossoms out, and enjoy this tea hot or cold, perhaps with a serving of Rhubarb Crisp. Lilacs are full of aromatic flavor and slightly astringent. Lilac blossoms contain carotenoids, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only two carotenoids found in the eyes and are beneficial to help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration in the eyes.
5 -6 cups chopped rhubarb
3/4 cup sugar (brown or white or monk fruit sweetener)
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons packed brown sugar or monk fruit sweetener
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the chopped rhubarb, sugar and flour. Fill an 8 x 8 baking dish 2/3 full with this mixture. In a separate bowl prepare the topping by combining the old-fashioned rolled oats, butter, olive oil, brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve hot or cold with ice cream as a dessert, or with milk or yogurt as a breakfast dish.