Friday, August 17, 2012

Half-Sugar Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Chia seeds - Whole Wheat or Gluten-Free

Growing up in a Chinese household during the 70's and 80's, my parents would predominantly cook Chinese meals for dinner.  Usually, we had the classic stir-fried vegetables with slices of meat and lots of fluffy white rice.  If we were lucky, we had ice cream for dessert.  How much we looked forward to hauling out that 4L/gallon bucket of Neapolitan (strawberry/vanilla/chocolate) ice cream!

What a contrast nowadays!  I guess I got tired of Asian food and wanted branch out.  Rhubarb is not what we ate growing up.  I have two rhubarb plants in my garden and this season, I have harvested and frozen enough to last the year!  It's mid-August and in my rural BC town, my rhubarb plants are still producing!  After playing around with Strawberry Rhubarb pie, I wanted to try a lower sugar version of Strawberry Rhubarb crisp.   

There are so many recipes out there but I wanted something super easy and not loaded with too much sugar and fat.  Of course, if you want to add more sugar and butter, be my guest!

This basic recipe uses whole wheat flour and half the amount of sugar compared to conventional recipes.  It got rave reviews in our household!  The kiddies wanted it for breakfast the next day.  I was worried that it would be too sour, but it wasn't for us.  Our strawberries were sweet, so that helped. 

For fun, I also made this gluten-free with great results.  Oats can be contaminated with gluten during processing, so if you are serving oats to guests who are gluten-sensitive, make sure they are certified gluten-free on the package. 

Instead of using whole wheat flour to thicken the filling, I mixed in chia seeds and arrowroot starch.  I bought a few scoops of chia seeds from the bulk organic section my grocery store to try.  Apparently, it has great thickening properties, extra fibre, and plant omega-3s, like flaxseed, according to the Globe and Mail.   I like to try different kinds of food... sometimes it's healthy...sometimes not! 

In the lower left corner in the picture above, you can see the chia seeds in the sauce.  The chia seeds swell up, like tiny tapioca pearls.  They absorb the extra liquid and I don't notice a difference in taste. 

Next time, I will try using quinoa flakes in place of the rolled oats.  With these substitutions, this has been very forgiving recipe with whatever ingredients on-hand!

Half-Sugar Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Chia seeds - Whole wheat or Gluten-free

1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup sugar)
3 Tbsp whole wheat flour or cornstarch (I used 1 Tbsp chia seeds + 2 Tbsp arrowroot starch)
3 cups quartered strawberries
3 cups diced rhubarb (about 1/4-1/2-inch chunks or about 1.5cm)
1/4 tsp cinnamon

2/3 cup rolled oats (I will try quinoa flakes next time!)
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed (I used 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or your fave gluten-free baking mix*)
1 Tbsp butter, melted (I needed to use 3Tbsp melted butter with the gluten-free flour)
dash of cinnamon

Mix first 5 ingredients for the fruit base. Pour and spread evenly in a 2.5qt/L dish.

Mix topping ingredients, spread evenly over the fruit base.

Bake at 350F for 45 - 55 minutes until bubbly.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  With ice cream is good too.  

- Adapted from SparkRecipes: Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

*As for the gluten-free baking mix, I tried  Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free All-purpose flour mix for a different recipe and I didn't like it.  It had a strong (nasty) aftertaste, due to the bean flour added to it.  To salvage this, I used 2 Tbsp of Bob's GF flour, 1 Tbsp rice flour, 1/2 Tbsp tapioca starch and 1/2 Tbsp potato starch to make up 1/4 cup flour.  Gluten-free flour mixes usually have a combination of rice flour, tapioca and potato starches. 

 We served our strawberry rhubarb crisp with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. YUM!

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  1. It sounds wonderful. I know how you feel I was raised in a household everything was serve with rice, now as an adult I don't cook it as much.

    1. Thanks Lorraine! Glad to know I'm not the only one! Isn't variety wonderful? :)

  2. Yum! I like a tart crisp too.

    1. Funny, no one complained that it was sour at all. I have had kiddies complain if things were too sweet!

  3. You have the most mouthwatering photos I've seen in a long time! Thanks for the inspiration to improve on mine! Really beautiful.


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