Healthy Eating: Enjoy the fruits of spring with rhubarb streusel muffins

Spring has finally arrived and my rhubarb plants are emerging from the ground with their gorgeous green leaves and red stalks. People either love rhubarb or they hate it. Most people haven’t even tried it because they don’t know what to do with it. I was not fond of rhubarb until I discovered that roasting rhubarb with brown sugar and vanilla created a luscious compote for my morning yogurt.

The pink fleshy stalks of rhubarb have an intensely tart flavor, which might be why rhubarb attracts such strong opinions. Although most often used for sweet dishes, it also works well in savory dishes, baked goods like muffins, and makes delicious jam and chutney. Only the stalks of the plant are edible: the leaves contain very high levels of oxalic acid, which is poisonous.

Although we tend to think of it as a fruit — and it’s mostly commonly used in sweet dishes — rhubarb is in fact a vegetable belonging to the same family as sorrel.

Health benefits of rhubarb may include:
– Helping to keep bones healthy and reduces the risk of osteoporosis
– Assisting wound healing
– Protecting against heart disease
– Aiding digestion
– Lowering blood pressure
– Reducing the risk of cancer
– Reducing inflammation
– Lowering the risk of Type 2 diabetes
– Maintaining eye health
– Antibacterial properties

Rhubarb is high in a number of nutrients, helping it to provide a good range of health benefits. One risk, though, is that its tart, acidic taste means it’s often eaten with a lot of sugar. You can reduce the amount of sugar you need to use by teaming it with naturally sweet fruits like bananas or strawberries or by using a sugar-free sweetener like stevia or monk fruit.

Here is a simple but delicious recipe for using the rhubarb from your backyard, your neighbor’s backyard or the market. Perfect for upcoming Spring holiday celebrations. Just don’t overbeat the batter otherwise your muffins won’t be light and fluffy. If you like alot of streusel on top of your muffins feel free to double the recipe for the streusel topping.

Rhubarb Streusel Muffins


For the streusel topping:

1 tablespoon butter, softened
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (optional)

For the muffins:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)


– Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

– Lightly spray a 12 muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line it with paper cupcake liners.

– In a small bowl, stir together the butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and cardamom for the streusel topping until it is well combined. Set aside.

– In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until well combined. Set aside.

– In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda until combined.

– Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it.

– Stir until just combined. Do not overmix.

– Gently fold in the chopped rhubarb.

– Divide the muffin batter between the 12 prepared muffin cups. They will be full.

– Sprinkle the streusel topping over the muffins.

– Bake for 18-21 minutes, or until the muffins are lightly browned, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.

– Let the muffins cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.

– Store the muffins at room temperature in a covered container for up to three days (although they won’t last that long!) or freeze them in an airtight container for up to three months.

Enjoy the fruits of spring!

— By Deborah Binder

Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She loves to cook from scratch using produce from the gardens she created and maintains with her husband. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and focused on desserts, pastries and bread. She’s worked for restaurants and caterers in the front and back of the house (kitchen) on both coasts. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. Deborah loves experimenting and developing new recipes. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at


  1. Thank you Deborah! Since I will have an abundance of rhubarb very soon, I’m going to try your recipe! It sounds delicious!

  2. I made these today and loved the fact they are not overly sweet, as muffins from must stores and restaurants are.

    One thing I noted was that Baking Powder was not included on the Ingredients list, but was mentioned in Directions following, so did add it, of course.

    I don’t have a garden, so used thin crimson stalks from Fred Meyer,

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