Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jammin' in the Kitchen: A Beet So Sweet!

Image courtesy of sunwarrior.com
Now don't think for a second that I didn't want to title this post 'Just Beet It' (I do love my Michael Jackson). But today's title was a bit more appropriate because beets are indeed sweet - satisfying any sweet tooth AND simultaneously providing you with amazing health benefits. They're quite the package deal! 

Beets originated along the Mediterranean and quickly spread throughout the world. This root vegetable, which comes in many lovely varieties (red, yellow, white... even red with white swirls), was used by the ancient Romans for its natural healing properties, in addition to its aphrodisiac properties. Like I said... quite the two-fer! 

In his book Food Rules, Michael Pollan says to 'Eat Your Colors'. What better way to do this than by adding the beautiful beet to your diet? Here's why you should just 'beet it'! (Ok, ok! I couldn't help myself!)...

Nature's Anti-Depressant - The tryptophan in beets helps to relax the mind and improve mental well-being. Plus beets are full of betaine, which is already used as a treatment for depression! I'll take my happy pill in the form of a beet, please!

Nature's Viagra - I'll cut right to the chase on this one. Beets have a high amount of boron, a trace mineral which aids in the production of human sex hormones. But that's not all, folks! The nitrate in beets helps to increase blood flow to the genital areas. Really, who wants to pay for Viagra (or therapy) when the answer can easily be found in the grocery aisle?!

Nature's Medicine - Beets are packed with vitamins and minerals - potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, just to name a few. Plus the antioxidants in beets help fight chronic inflammation that could possibly lead to major health issues down the road, including cancer. Beets provide the perfect nutrient cocktail - one you don't have to feel guilty about throwing back with your friends!

Nature's 'Mama Bear' - As I've said before, natural folate is much preferable to taking a folic acid supplement, and beets are full of folate! Folate helps to protect the body's DNA, while also ensuring that your unborn baby arrives on the scene with no neural tube defects! That's a win-win, my friends!

Nature's Red Bull - Step away from the energy drinks! I have your answer right here! The nitrates in beets, which are converted to nitric oxide in the body, work to expand the walls of your blood vessels, allowing you more oxygen and more energy! Plus, beets are 'smart carbs', meaning that though they are high in sugar, they are low in calories. The sugar in a beet provides you with long-lasting energy without spiking your blood sugar levels, thanks to the fiber content that goes along with it. Eat a beet with your lunch and you'll be in business all afternoon (without even touching a Red Bull)!

So you see? Nature has a funny way of providing you with all the things you need to feel well! I like my beets in juice form or on a salad. Here's a simple recipe for a Massaged Kale and Beet Green Salad...

Grab your ingredients. One beet will be enough for a few servings, and the smaller the beet, the faster it cooks.
Trim the stem off 1 beet and rinse lightly under cool water to get any excess dirt off.
Place the beet in a saucepan of water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and let
the water do its job.  A medium size beet will cook about 45 minutes.
Don't waste the beet greens! Wash and trim them while your beet cooks.
Then slice them into ribbons.
Now wash and pat the kale dry. Separate the leaves from the stems and chop into ribbons.
Check that hot beet out... it truly looks like Love Potion #9 in there!
In a large mixing bowl, combine the kale and beet greens. Drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil.
Now squeeze a lemon into the mix. Use just one half of it if you're making 2 servings. Use the whole lemon
if you're feeding a hungry family. At this point you can also sprinkle it with a little sea salt and pepper.
Now massage the mixture for 2-3 minutes until the leaves turn a darker shade of green. The salad will also
shrink a bit in size. Massaging the greens helps to activate more nutrients AND makes the raw greens a little
less bitter and tough.
Your beet is done when you can stick a fork in it easily. Remove it from the saucepan and transfer it to a bowl
of cold water. Gently rub the skin and it will come right off!
Now slice that beautiful beet...
...and add it to your salad. I also added toasted pumpkin seeds but any type of seed would compliment
this salad well (sunflower seeds, pecans, almonds, pine nuts)! Drizzle with your dressing of choice or whisk
the following together for a light yet tasty dressing: 1 shallot finely chopped, 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil,
1 1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder and sea salt
and black pepper to taste.


  1. Great info! Beets are my favorite root vegetable, but I've been too intimidated to try them at home. Your step-by-step makes it seem easy and totally doable. Thanks!

    1. You and me both, Mary! They always seemed so 'beyond me', but this method is so simple it's ridiculous! Plus, once you throw it in the water, you can walk away for 45 minutes and do other things!