Beets (and their greens too)
As we truck on toward the end of 2011 I find myself glancing back over my shoulder at the year past and looking forward to 2012 with excitement and anticipation. (Check out my two January offerings at the bottom of this page!)
There’s so much to be grateful for this year. I’m especially savoring the developing relationship I have with my son, Gilbert, as he grows up and becomes more independent and clear about his own needs, desires and passions. I love how he opens the fridge and makes himself a snack of sauerkraut and carrots or black beans and corn chips or when he whips up personal drink concoctions in the blender. (The raspberry pink splotches on the wall I could do without.)
Eleven-years-old may bring a bit more eye-rolling, but I’ll take it if it comes with the laugher, compassion and communication we’ve been having together lately. This new year I wish for more of the same in terms of a graceful evolution of our mother-son relationship.
When I look back over the last year of recipEmails I realize there’s also an opportunity for a new development ~ one that includes Gilbert.
First, looking back. . .
If you were along for the ride, I’d say we got downright GREEN!
Glancing back a bit further, I decided to re-incorporate a tradition from my past. It’s a tradition that I adopted when I was first learning to cook and one that I’d like to pass along to Gilbert and to you as well in 2012.
It’s the tradition of recipe flagging.
What’s recipe flagging? Well, it involves those tiny little colored index tabs that you can pick-up at your local office store, and a cookbook.
In my early days of learning to cook, those cookbooks were borrowed from the library. Over the years I developed an obsession with purchasing cookbooks and I now have an excessively large and ever-growing collection. It’s a collection that gets little attention these days, as my schedule gets busier and my kitchen skills are developed enough that I can whip up a meal from random ingredients in the fridge and cupboard. But I’m recommitting to the collection and the flagging.
Recipe Flagging 101
Looking forward. . .
What I used to love most about this strategy was that I didn’t have to consider that age-old question “What’s for dinner?” when I finished work each day. Instead, I just flipped the book to the flagged page, knew I had all ingredients at-the-ready, and started in on the task at hand.
This year I’m returning to my cookbook collection. I’ll share it with you. To start things off, I’m working with one of my newest favorites, Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier.
Happy recipe flagging and enjoy your beets!
Beet Salad with Lemon-Herb Nut Cheese
This is my adaptation of a recipe from Raven’s Restaurant in Mendocino, CA as featured in Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier. I placed this dish in front of my son Gilbert and he gobbled it up within minutes!
serves approximately 2 to 4
4 small red beets and their greens
lemon-herb nut cheese:
sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
Beets were originally grown for their leaves, so don’t throw those greens away! I was sure to include the slivered leaves in this recipe, but you can eat them in any way that you would their close relative, chard.
The bulbs vary as much in flavor as they can in shape, size and color. The young and little ones, in spring and summer, can nearly be eaten whole (no worries about removing the skin after washing). They’re sweet and tasty. Later in the year you’ll want to remove those skins after cooking to reveal the luscious flavors.
As beets grow in the ground, the quality of the soil directly effects the nature of the beet. Organic beets, grown in compost-rich soil, are likely to impart a sweeter and cleaner taste. Borscht, kvass, juice, salad, saute, roast, shred, pickle. Whatever floats your beet.
The Health Benefits of Beets:
: : Beets are a great blood and nervous system tonic. They’re helpful for combatting anemia, aiding circulation and supporting the functioning of the heart.
: : The beet roots are a good source of several vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B and vitamin C. Believe it or not, the leaves or beet tops are even more nutritious with additional stores of beta-carotene and folic acid.
: : There is a unique class of phytonutrients called betalains that is contained within the beet. These phytonutrients have great anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties and support the body’s abilities to eliminate toxins. (Note: This class of phytonutrients is easily destroyed after too much heat. So include some raw and/or low cooked beets in your diet too!)
: : In keeping with its powers of detoxification, the beet root stimulates liver, bowel, kidney and lymphatic functions, enhancing the elimination of toxins and waste.
: : Beets also contain an impressive array of antioxidants that help them to be one of your best friends through the cold and flu season as well as a beneficial for the health of your eyes.
: : Those beet juices and soups, like borscht, are potent decongestants. They help to clear the phlegm brought on by coughs and colds.
: : Because of it rich antioxidant and pytonutrient properties, the beet has received some attention for its cancer-risk reducing potential. Eat beets to beat cancer!
: : Nitrates, a chemical compound often used to treat heart conditions, are abundant in beets. The nitrates widen the blood vessels to help the blood circulate. This helps to lower blood pressure and increase exercise endurance.
: : And my favorite health benefit from beets has to do with its role in the digestive system. Beets contain a specific type of fiber that facilitates digestion and absorption so that many conditions associated with stagnation, like headaches, fatigue and skin problems can be more easily alleviated. Beets also have a soothing effect on the digestive tract which can help to remedy heartburn and indigestion.
Digestion is a key focus of the Core Values Detox class.
Wait a minute, aren’t beets high in sugar?
Your comments and feedback are always welcome. Is there an ingredient you'd like to learn more about? Is there a nutrition class you always wish existed? Let me know!