Love Your Food!
Ask most kids (or my dad) and they’ll say beets are gross. I say beets are AWESOME! Raw, roasted, steamed, grated, pickled – you name it! The natural sweetness and colour of beets make them a fun and tasty addition to many dishes. Beets also happen to be super healthy!
Beets are a rich source of betalains (phytonutrients that are responsible for that beautiful blood red pigment). Betalains offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support. It is worth noting that betalain content does decrease as cooking time increases. It is recommended that beets be steamed no longer than 15 minutes or roasted no longer than 1 hour in order to reap the benefits of these betalains.
Antioxidants – betalains along with vitamin C and manganese make beets a rich antioxidant source. Antioxidants are important for combating free radical damage in the body that contributes to heart disease, cancers, and premature aging. More specifically, beet antioxidants have been studied for their positive effects on eye and nerve tissue health.
Anti-inflammatory – along with the betalains, beets contain betaine. Betaine, a key nutrient in the body made from choline (a B vitamin), is particularly helpful in preventing atherosclerosis (inflammation and hardening of the arteries).
Detoxification – betalain pigments support Phase 2 detoxification in the liver whereby harmful and unwanted toxins and chemicals are neutralized (through a binding process) to become water soluble and thus more easily eliminated from the body. The fiber in beets will also help with proper digestion and elimination.
All of the above functions along with the high fiber content of beets make them a great vegetable for preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, and promoting overall health and wellbeing.
So how should you get beets into your diet?
Grate raw beets into salads for a punch of colour and a nice sweet crunch
Roast beets alone or with other veggies and use as a side dish, snack or salad topper
Add beets (roasted or raw) to hummus for a pleasingly pink snack
Steam beets and toss with fresh herbs, lemon and olive oil
Ferment/pickle beets with bacterial culture for probiotic benefit
And don’t forget about the greens! Sauté beet tops with a little olive oil and garlic or orange juice and cinnamon or toss them into soups, stir-fries, or a frittata
Simple Beet and Basil Salad
3-4 beets, washed and trimmed
handful of basil leaves
juice of 1/2 a lemon
drizzle of olive oil
sprinkle of sea salt
Cut beets into bit size chunks. Toss in 1-2 inches of boiling water or into a steaming basket, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop from cooking further. Roll up basil leaves and chop into ribbons (chiffonade). Toss basil with the beets and dress with olive oil and lemon juice . Season with sea salt (and pepper if you wish). Enjoy immediately or store in the fridge for a few days.
Note: If you want to remove the skin from your beets leave them whole or quarter them before steaming and then peel once cooled. The skin should slip off easily.
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Love Your Food!