Friday, August 26, 2011

Marching to a healthier BEET

"guest post from my daughter on beets 

and at the end a wonderful BEET salad you will all enjoy!

Veggie Corner: Why You Should Eat Beets

Beets, natures blood red vegetable, have a lot of great benefits to the human body and the mind.
Beets have a deep magenta hue (which makes them easy to spot in a salad, or otherwise), and belong to the same family as silverbeet. They are part of the amaranth family and although there are quite a variety of beets cultivated around the world, I think the most popular one for us is the common red garden beet or the beetroot. They can be eaten boiled, steamed, or roasted with the root and stem intact, after which it will need to be peeled before eating. Beets can also be peeled and eaten raw. A half a cup serving provides 17 percent of your daily folate requirements (folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that occurs naturally in food) and thanks to its nitrate content, beetroot has also been found to help lower blood pressure and improve stamina during exercise (even better for those long cardio sessions).
Beetroots have been known for years for their medicinal properties and are sometimes referred to as a food-medicine. Homeopaths use beetroots for cleansing the blood of toxins and helping the liver. Beetroots have also been used as cancer treatments; the pigments in the dark red blood-like juice are bound to specific anti-carcinogens. Beetroots also contain a high amount of anti-oxidants, which fight free-radicals as well as combat aging. Eating Beetroots increases the uptake of oxygen in your blood by almost 400%, which is a staggering number and contributes to high energy.
Beetroots healing properties have been used for thousands of years; Hippocrates swore by the use of beet leaves for binding wounds. The Romans used beetroot as an aphrodisiac and to treat fevers, constipation, as well as disorders of the blood. In the middle ages it was used to cleanse and strengthen the blood. Nature tells us that the beetroot is good for the blood because it bleeds dark red blood when cut.

How else can beets help? Well, I know a lot of people who suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and beetroot is one of the foremost vegetables in aiding with bowel support. Beetroot is known as food for the bowels for those suffering from constipation, IBS, Crohns or just bloating; eating beets soothes and protects the bowel. The beet greens are also very nutrient rich and contain beta- carotene and other carotenoids, which function as anti-oxidants. As previously noted, they also contain vitamin C, iron, potassium and folate.  You can use them in green smoothies!

Marinated beets are found in many stores and so are readily available.

A really great way to eat beets is to to peel and cut up beets and eat them in salads, or put them in to shakes. The best way to eat most vegetable, not just beetroots, is to eat them raw. Cooking vegetables breaks down important enzymes and rids the vegetable of nutrition. This doesn’t mean that you should totally subscribe to a raw diet, however, in some cases it can be more beneficial to your health. If you are boiling the beetroot, keep in mind that Vitamin C, which is plentiful in the beetroot, is still water soluble.

 This is the way they are kept in a cool place in a vegetable store. They cut the leaves off as apparently they last longer that way.
When you are buying beetroots make sure they are firm, with unblemished roots. If they are unwashed they will keep for longer. It is also important not to buy the wrinkly ones, these are no good. You can store them in a cool place for a week or two and under proper conditions they will keep longer. If you’re using the leaves, these will keep in the fridge for a day or two. If you cook the beetroot it can be frozen and kept in the freezer as well.
I should also note, if you intend on peeling and chopping beetroot, it will stain your fingers and your cutting board! This is something to keep in mind if you don’t want purple nails. Buy yourself a pair of gloves for chopping.

Here are some other Little Known Facts from the beetroot fan
- Beetroot contains high amounts of boron, which may explain its reputation as an ancient aphrodisiac
- Beetroot also contains betaine, a substance that relaxes the mind and is used to treat depression
- The colouring from beetroot is used to colour things like strawberry jam and tomato puree
- Massaging your scalp each night with the cooled water from boiling beetroots is reputed to cure dandruff
- betanins in the roots are used as red colorants to intensify the color of tomato sauces, jellies, jams or cereals
- the leafy tops are rich in beta-carotene, iron and calcium
- beetroot can be used to make wine
- beetroot pulp is fed to horses that are in severe training or that are allergic to dust
- medicinal purposes. Although eating beetroot alone is no cure for cancer, beetroot should be included in a balanced diet, because it can assist with the following:
- Lowering the cholesterol
- Liver function
- the fight against cancer
- Aids tissue growth
- reduces risk of osteoporosis
- improves sex drive
- stabilizes blood sugar
- helps with anemia and fatigue
- protects artery walls because it has high antioxidant properties

Now for a great recipe.....
My favorite beetroot recipe so far, which is loaded with vitamins (especially vitamin C) is Beetroot and Carrot Salad. Here is the recipe:
What you need (Serves 1)

2 small beetroots                                                
2 medium sized carrots
Balsamic vinegar to taste
1 tsp Olive oil (EVOO: extra virgin olive oil)
Roasted pine nuts and sunflower seeds
Salt and pepper to taste or lawrys seasoning salt ( if you have )

First, wash and peel the beetroot, then grate the raw beetroots. Next, wash and peel the carrots and grate them. I should note here, a lot of people don’t wash carrots before they peel them. I tend to wash everything, because you don’t know where it’s been, who has handled it, as well as what kind of fertilizers were used. The best method is to wash everything first no matter what. Better safe than sorry!

 The red of the beet looks fabulous against the orange of the carrot!  You really need gloves for this though.

Next, I pour the balsamic vinegar  and the Olive Oil  over the beets and carrots and mix thoroughly
Add the roasted sunflower seeds and  pine nuts . This is a REALLY simple way to get a lot of really great benefits. Keep in mind beets are a natural laxative so if you want to overdose on this veggie, make sure you are near a toilet.
I roast the seeds before adding them as I feel it brings out a stronger flavor that is needed in this salad to make it extra special!.
Your finished salad should look like this . The carrots very quickly take on the red of the beets. Adding a little Lawry's seasoning salt and you have the perfect easy healthy salad for the summer.
I have served this salad to many people who do not like beets and after tasting this they changed their minds.  Most did not know beets were even in the salad! An amazing salad that is like a vitamin in a dish . Enjoy!

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