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Keeping the BEET…

This week’s blog is about the vibrant and nutrient dense vegetable known as the beet.  When I was a kid my Mother told me that beets tasted bad and as a result we never really ate them as part of our family meals.  Like most kids growing up in the ’80’s our staple vegetables were cream corn, peas, broccoli and carrots.  It wasn’t until I had boiled beets at my Grandmother’s that I realized they weren’t so bad.  I can’t say I loved them but they sure tasted better than turnip!

It wasn’t until about 5 years ago, when I moved out west from Ontario, that beets became a part of my regular diet.  While working at the Kootenay Co-op grocery store in Nelson, BC, I completed an extensive project on vegetables and their importance in our diet.  When I started researching beets, a ton of valuable information was available.  I found out that not only are they packed with nutrient compounds that protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain types of cancer, but they also contain antioxidants.

It turns out that beets also have the ability to purify the blood, alleviate constipation, offer liver support and promote menstruation.  As you may or may not know, the B vitamin referred to as folate is crucial in preventing certain birth defects.  One cup of lightly boiled beets contain 136mcg of folate, just over a quarter of a pregnant woman’s required intake- 400mcg daily!  As you can see beets are an important part of a healthy diet.

My favourite way to enjoy beets is either roasted in the oven in a can of coconut milk and curry powder with other root vegetables such as yams, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions and of course garlic, or shredded raw on a salad.  Believe it or not beets are actually very sweet and offer a colourful and nutritious addition to any summer salad.  Beets can also be eaten pickled or in soups.

Just remember, as with most vegetables never overcook beets as heat diminishes their anti-cancer properties and their taste.  I hope you will find a way to incorporate beets into your daily diet.  I’ve included one of my favourite raw beet recipes for you to try.

Shredded Beet and Carrot Salad

  • 450 g carrots
  • 450 g raw beets
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • ¼ cup of currants or raisins
  • ¼ cup of walnut pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon strong Dijon Mustard
  • chili pepper flakes, to taste
  • sea salt & ground pepper to taste

Optional add-ins

  • leafy fresh herb, chopped (cilantro, or flat-leaf parsley) (optional)
  • toasted nuts (almonds, pine nuts, cashews, peanuts) or seeds (sesame, sunflower seeds)
  • grated apples

Directions:

Prep Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 10 mins

  1. Trim, wash and grate the carrots and beets. (If you own a food processor with a grater attachment, yay for you!)
  2. Place the rest of the main ingredients, from garlic to black pepper, in a large salad bowl, add the grated carrots and beets, and toss until well combined.
  3. Add any desired add-ins and toss again.
  4. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and let stand for 30 minutes, if you can, before serving: the beets and carrots will render juices that will make the salad moister.
  5. If you don’t have that kind of time and the salad does not feel quite moist enough, add a dash of citrus juice, tomato juice, or any sort of juice that may currently reside in the refrigerator door.
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