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Food Journal Entry - The People VS. The Beet

For this entry we are pleased to have Christine Destry from the Whatcom County Boys & Girls Clubs as a special guest blogger!

Beets get a bad rap. In fact, in my house, I am the sole lover of the beet. My husband turns his nose up, and my children follow suit. My son's favorite snarky comment on beets is, "That's not food; that's what food eats."

Sigh. The poor unloved beet…So, I am here to defend the beet in all its finger-staining glory. From the rich antioxidant-filled leafy greens down to the bright magenta root, I love beets!
What's not to love? The beet is so versatile. It can be used in so many ways. In a moment we will explore some great ways to enrich your diet with its flavorful and enticing charm.

But first, let's talk about what the beet can do for you!

The leafy greens of the beet are laden with calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Mega-food! The luscious root complements its leafy lid with vitamins A, B-complex and C! Filled with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support, the beet is a must-have in any balanced diet. What more could you ask from a vegetable?

Now, when searching for the perfect beet, look for ones with dark-green colored leaves, rich red veins and fairly long, upright stalks. Stay away from the greens with leaves that are wilted, yellowing or have dark green patches of slime on parts of the leaves.

Now, let's get down to the best part—fixing your beets! Before you cook your beets, or any vegetable—wash them thoroughly!

The Greens:
  • Fresh Greens are a fabulous addition to any fresh salad. They add a splash of color and texture. Makes a great addition to spinach and Caesar salads, too!
  • Cooked Greens: Prepare the greens as close to the purchase time as possible to retain all those health benefits. Chop them coarsely, as you would lettuce or scallions. Pack them tight into a small pot (smaller than you think will fit, as beet greens reduce to almost nothing when cooked, like spinach). Add ½" water to the pot. Add 1-2 tbsp of lemon or lime juice (I prefer lime) and a dash of salt, if you like. Cook uncovered on high heat and watch closely.
The Beet:
Cooking the beets whole is the best way to retain their color, flavor and nutrients.
  • Roasting: To roast the beets, it's best to peel them and cut off the root and the stem ends. Add a tablespoon of canola oil, spread them on a roasting pan, and roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes (check after 20 minutes, ovens vary). Let them cool a bit. I like to sprinkle dill on mine. Also, toss in some garlic and roast them together! Your home will smell divine!
  • Steaming: Cut off the greens but leave a 1" stem attached. Put them whole into a deep baking dish. Cover with water. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil with the dull side out. Bake at 350° for 1 hour, or until fork tender. When cool enough to handle, cut off the root and stem ends and simply rub off the skins. Eat and smile!
  • Boiling: Place the beets into a deep saucepan and cover them with water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat down to medium and cook 20-60 minutes, until fork tender. Cooking time will depend on the size of the beets.
  • Raw: I commend you for your bravery to don reddish-purple fingers for at least a day! Cut the roots and stem ends, peel and either grate or slice the beets. They make a beautiful and tasty garnish, or serve as a side dish. If you add to a salad, know that the salad will blush rosy.
  • Sautéing: Again, I commend you for your commitment to the beet—wear your red hands with pride! After washing and peeling the beets, slice off the stem and root. Slice, then dice the beets into bite-size pieces. In a large skillet, sauté the beets in extra virgin olive oil with a dash of water. Feel free to spice it up with herbs of your choice. Again, I go for the dill, garlic and red onions with a splash of lime, lemon or vinegar.
Easy Beet Recipes:
  • Roast your beets and let them cool completely.
  • Slice and dice into bite-size pieces. Add:
    • Some balsamic vinaigrette
    • A tablespoon of lemon or lime juice
    • A handful of crushed walnuts
    • A small handful of raisins

Serve atop fresh cabbage. (Red cabbage goes especially well, they blush together!)
  • Roast your beets and let them cool.
  • Slice, dice, whatever you like. Set aside.
  • Prepare a fresh green salad using the beet greens and any other leafy greens, spinach, swiss chard etc. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, put:
    • 1 cup of cottage cheese
    • 1 tsp of garlic powder or garlic salt (you can also substitute fresh or roasted garlic)
    • 1-2 tsp of dill
    • ½ tsp of black pepper
Mix it up like crazy. Add it to the salad and mix it well to cover the greens. Now add the beets and re-mix. Serve and enjoy!
If you are feeling adventurous, go for the gold…or in this case, the red! BORSCHT!! I like the Ukrainian style of Borscht, myself:


Ukrainian Borscht
  • 2 cups shredded beets
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 parsnip, shredded
  • 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • A few bay leaves
  • 16 oz. can Hunt's tomato puree
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp. dill weed or fresh dill, minced
Simmer shredded vegetables in a saucepan until tender, adding just enough water or chicken broth to cover. Lightly sauté the onion in olive oil until soft but not browned. Add the garlic to the onions after they've been cooking for 2 minutes. Add the onion and garlic to the cooked vegetables, and then stir in the remaining ingredients and heat through. You can season to taste with salt and pepper.
Beet & Lentil Salad
A nice side addition to any meal.
  • 10 oz. dried French lentils
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 lbs. beets, washed with 2 inches of stem attached
  • 1 lb. onions, thickly sliced
  • 10 to 20 lg. fresh basil leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
Vinaigrette:
  • ½ c. beet liquid
  • ¾ c. olive oil
  • ¼ c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bunch scallions, minced
  • 1 sm. bunch basil, shredded
Heat your oven to 400°. Combine lentils, broth and bay leaves in covered pan. Place beets in shallow roaster. Strew onion slices, basil leaves and garlic over beets. Sprinkle with oil and salt and cover tightly with foil. Place both pans in oven and roast for ½ hour. Remove and cool. Drain lentils and beets, reserving ½ cup beet liquid. Peel and cut beets in ¼ inch cubes. Mix vinaigrette, combine all ingredients. Chill 1 hour.


Baby Beets in Sour Cream

One more side dish.
  • ¼ c. dairy sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. minced green onion
  • ¾ tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Dash cayenne
  • 2 ½ c. halved cooked beets, drained
Combine ingredients, except beets. Mix well. Add sauce to beets; heat slowly, stirring to coat. Serves 4-5.

Now, have I convinced you that the beet is far more deserving than its reputation? Good! I thought so. So in the case of the People VS. the Beet, the jury finds the defendant GUILTY of being good for the body, the mind and the soul!

If you'll excuse me, I need to go wash my hands; they are quite red from the beets I just ate. YUM!

GO!

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Erin's Signature
Founder & Owner

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