Baking & Dessert

By Rena Unger | June 21, 2011

Photo: Rena Unger

By Rena Unger – Holistic Nutrition Chef

Vitamin C is the nutrient we run to at the first symptom of a cold, cough or flu. While vitamin C has incredible immune boosting properties, this is not its primary function and in fact, vitamin C contributes to our overall wellness in a few important ways including:

Photo: Rena Unger

– Vitamin C’s primary function is to help the body produce collagen to support our connective tissue, tendons and cartilage
– Heals wound, burns and healthy development of connective scar tissue
– Strengthens steady blood flow and prevents heart disease by supporting collagen production in blood vessels
– Prevents bruising and varicose veins
– Healthy gums
– Antioxidant that slows aging
– Aids in cancer prevention by raising the body’s natural anti-cancer compound, interferon
– Combats bacterial infections, colds and flu symptoms by increasing white blood cell function and activity
– Powerful antihistamine
– Neutralizes free radicals
– Increases our ability to absorb iron
– Helps to form healthy red blood cells
– Treats herpes, hepatitis, polio, measles, pneumonia and AIDS
– Heals liver disease
– Linked to curing drug and alcohol addictions

Photo: Rena Unger

Vitamin C, or absorbic acid, is an essential water soluble micro nutrient that is found in nearly all fruits and vegetables, best sources include:

– All citrus including oranges, lemons, lime, grapefruit and tangerines
– All berries including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, elderberries and bilberries
– Guava, papaya, pineapple, rhubarb and persimmons
– Sweet red peppers
– Chili peppers
Dark leafy greens including kale, collards and mustard greens
– Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage
– Fresh herbs including parsley and thyme
Rose hips
– Tomatoes
– Potatoes and parsnips
– Amaranth

Photo: Rena Unger

The most delicious way to enjoy vitamin C is from a natural whole foods source. Right now there is a gorgeous assortment of berries popping up at farmers’ markets in the Northeast. All you need to do is wash and enjoy. If you are looking for fun kitchen activity check out my twist on an old spring/summer favorite Strawberry Grapefruit Rhubarb Spice Crumb Pie.

Eat well!
Rena Unger – Holistic Nutrition Chef & Culinary Educator

If you would like to reach out to Rena Unger personally please click here.

For Crust
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted grass-fed butter
  • 2 tsp rose water, optional
  • 5 tbsp water
For Filling
  • 4 cups strawberries, halved
  • 1 cup rhubarb, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 2 tsp grapefruit zest
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp kudzu, dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water, creating a slurry
For Spiced Nut Crumble Topping
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 stick unsalted grass-fed butter
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter and rose water if using with a pastry cutter or fork until mixture starts to resemble crumbs. Add enough water to moisten flour, roll into a ball and chill in refrigerator.

3. Bring strawberries, rhubarb, grapefruit juice, zest, honey and salt up to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add kudzu slurry and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes until mixture thickens.

4. Coarsely grind nuts in a food processor. Pulse in flour, butter, spices and salt until moist clumps begin to form. Set aside and chill in refrigerator.

5. Roll out chilled bottom crust dough, form and press firmly into a 9 inch pie pan, crimping the edges.

6. Add strawberry filling to pie pan and bake for 30 minutes.

7. Remove pie from oven and top with spiced crumbs; reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 30 minutes until the crumbs begin to brown.

8. Enjoy warm or chilled.

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