A Healthier Twist on Rhubarb Crisp

Every summer when I was growing up, I would eagerly await the first bite of my mother’s delicious rhubarb crisp.  Within hours of picking the vibrant red stalks from my aunt’s garden, she would transform them into this slightly tart seasonal treat. We’d enjoy it for dessert alongside vanilla ice cream or even by itself as a special breakfast delight.

I lost my beloved mother very suddenly in August of last year.  During this first unfamiliar summer without her, I’ve found rhubarb brings back so many memories of those sweet, humid days together.

In an effort to enjoy this nourishing stalk even more, I created this healthy recipe for rhubarb crisp.  It’s also particularly important for me to limit my sugar intake now that I’m expecting my first baby in early October.  As you will see, this recipe uses a little maple syrup in the filling and coconut sugar for the topping.  I’ve substituted barley flour for regular flour, which is denser in nutrients and has a low glycemic index.  Feel free to use almond or coconut flour instead to make the crisp gluten-free.  Though rhubarb is botanically a vegetable, it’s more commonly used in sweet dishes like tarts, crisps, and purees here in the United States.  The hardy stalks offer an array of nutritional benefits: In addition to containing high amounts of calcium and the free radical fighting compound lutein, rhubarb is a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and dietary fiber.  As Rhubarb is mild diuretic, it promotes healthy digestion and can relieve constipation.  Just be sure NOT to eat the leaves of the stalks.  They contain various toxins commonly found in plants, most notably oxalic acid.  Fear not, however, the stalks are absolutely safe!

I know my mother would be so happy that I’m sharing this crisp recipe with with you.

A Healthier Rhubarb Crips


  • 1 1/2 pounds of Rhubarb (Rinsed, leaves removed and stems trimmed)
  • 1/4 cup of Maple Syrup or more to taste (I prefer to use Grade B syrup. In addition to being more cost effective, it’s richer in nutrients)
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • 4-5 tablespoons Butter or Ghee, chilled
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Barley Flour (for a gluten-free crisp, use almond or coconut flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 cup Pecans (optional)
  • Pinch of Sea Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Cut the rhubarb stalks into 1 1/4″ pieces.  This should yield about 4 cups.
  2. Add the rhubarb in a 9″ or 9 1/2″ pie dish (or similarly sized baking dish) and toss with the maple syrup, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
  3. Add the chilled butter, coconut sugar, barley flour, and cinnamon to the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the ingredients start to clump together, about 20-30 seconds.  Add the oats and pecans and pulse for a few more seconds.
  4. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the rhubarb and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top is slightly browned the the rhubarb bubbling.
  5. Enjoy the crisp by itself or with a dollop of Greek yogurt or a more indulgent scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you’re shopping at the Westport Farmers’ Market, we recommend pairing the crisp with some of Nutty Bunny‘s scrumptious vanilla non-dairy frozen dessert.



Recipes and photos by Sophie Slater