Summer is here in Niagara County. If you have been patiently (or impatiently) waiting for strawberry season, it has arrived! And along with it, rhubarb. Strawberry and rhubarb are a perfect flavor combination for any sweet dish. Sweet strawberries pair perfectly with tart rhubarb.

Did you know that strawberries are part of USDA’s MyPlate fruit group? Strawberries are full of fiber, vitamin C and folate. Rhubarb, which looks like bright red celery, is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin K. It is part of the vegetable group. Rhubarb leaves are inedible but the stems are safe to eat.

When I mentioned strawberry and rhubarb going well together, I bet you thought of strawberry rhubarb pie. That famous duo gets almost all the credit but there are plenty of other ways to combine the flavors in a more nutrient dense dish. Inspired by the berry baked oatmeal from www.foodhero.org, we made a strawberry rhubarb baked oatmeal to showcase the early summer flavors without adding tons of fat or sugar. This is a great dish to make on a cool morning (or a cool evening the night before). You can serve the oatmeal cold or warm.

One cup of this oatmeal bake will provide your body with about 350 calories, 11 grams of fat, 55 grams of carbohydrate, 6 grams of fiber, 25 grams of sugar and 11 grams of protein. You’ll also get 20% of your daily calcium and 15% of your daily iron.

Using oatmeal is a great way to get a serving of whole grains in at breakfast time. Whole grains add fiber to your diet, helping you to stay feeling fuller longer, helping digestion and possibly helping to lower cholesterol. Other examples of whole grains are brown rice, popcorn and whole grain/wheat bread.

For this recipe, you will need a 2-quart or 9x9 baking dish.

Strawberry rhubarb baked oatmeal

2 cups old fashioned oat

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4-teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/2-cup brown sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups milk

4 teaspoons of butter, melted

1 cup of strawberries, chopped

1 cup of rhubarb, chopped

1/4-cup of walnuts or almonds (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together the oatmeal, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Add the berries and stir to combine. Pour mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with nuts, if desired. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours.

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If you’re interested in learning more about healthy cooking that saves you money, check us out on Facebook @cceniagaracounty or email jah625@cornell.edu. Visit www.SNAPEDNY.org for more tips and tricks and to find virtual classes.

USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact 1-800-352-8401.

Justine Hays is a lead nutritionist for Eat Smart NY Western Region, which is funded by SNAP.

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