1 July 2006

Low GI Food of the Month

Do You Have the GI for Fresh Rhubarb Stalks?
No. Despite being popularised by celeb chefs as a great low GI food in their TV shows and books, fresh rhubarb contains so little carbohydrate (less than 2 grams per 100 grams), that it is actually not possible to measure its GI. But if you like to crunch raw rhubarb, pile your plate high and enjoy a veggie that’s a great source of vitamin C and potassium and a good source of fibre with virtually no calories and certainly no fat. However, most of us find eating rhubarb this way a little hard to take: unbearably tart and way too crunchy. And so we cook it and sweeten it. And that’s where the carbs come in along with the calories (kilojoules) – and the GI. Sugar is probably the favourite sweetener (brown sugar is hard to beat) and many recipes recommend around 120 g/4 oz sugar (or even more – they call it ‘to taste’) to 450 g/1 lb chopped rhubarb stems. However, you can sweeten rhubarb in other lower GI ways: try combining it fifty/fifty with chopped (low GI) apple, a little grated ginger root, the juice of 1 orange and about 3 tablespoons of pure floral honey … or leave out the ginger and orange and bake it with a couple of split vanilla beans. The options are endless as you’ll find if you check out the ‘Rhubarb Recipe Collection’ on www.rhubarbinfo.com/recipe-index.html


Rhubarb is a leafy vegetable from the buckwheat family (it’s a cousin of sorrel) but in 1947 the US Customs Court in Buffalo New York classified it as a fruit because that’s mostly how we eat it. The red stems are the edible bit; the leaves are toxic. When shopping, choose bunches with slender, younger stems that are dark pink to red. The thicker the stalk the stringier it gets. It is a very versatile veg (fruit). Just trim the ends, remove the leaves and cut the stems into 2.5 cm (1 inch) chunks. It cooks down to a syrupy liquid in minutes so don’t add too much water and watch the pot. You can also cook it in the microwave or bake it in the oven.


Anonymous said...

I had no idea that those gorgeous
green leaves are toxic. Could they
be par boiled like poke salut here
in the south? Also I am wondering
why the rhubarb stalks could not
be sweetened with Splenda? Most
rhubarb is cooked into a pie using
half fresh strawberries. Why not
make a crustless pie using the
rhubarb/strawberries sweetened
with sugar substitute? It is truly
a beautiful plant.
Jimmie Archie-Harris, Texas

cherrycurls said...

You can add bi carb soda 1 tspn to the water when cooking or you can soak it with a bit more. The bi carb nutralizes, some of the acid so only half the aomount of sugar is needed. It does change the colour of the rhubarb but hay who cares??? You can also use this method in things like tomatoe sauce anything thats acidic and needs sugar added.

Anonymous said...

And I have had really good results sweetening stewed rhubarb with stevia.

Anonymous said...

I cook it plain, and mix it through some vanilla or other flavoured yoghurt or custard, which I find makes it quite sweet enough. You can always add a bit of sweetener after cooking, if you want some of it on its own.

BTW, it's also very high in calcium.