I’ve been on a borscht binge lately . . . Just had to put in a good word for the oft neglected beet.
My little buddy (seen pictured on the left) has ancestral roots going back to ancient times in the Mediterranean region. Apparently, they were only valued for their leaves originally, but the early Romans, presumably out of boredom or necessity, discovered the sweet, earthy taste of the brilliantly colored root.
Not sure about back then, but now they come in all kinds of colors, including the delicious golden variety.
Beets (root, raw), 1 cup (135g)
Total Fat: 0.23g
*Excellent source of: Folate (148mcg)
*Good source of: Potassium (442mg), and Vitamin C (6.6mg)
When I was pregnant with my second daughter a friend got me drinking daily carrot juice with beets and swore by the highly absorbable quality of the relatively small amount of iron found in raw beet roots. I’ve since read various articles that also suggest this and that it is absorbed well into the body because of the beet’s high copper content.
In researching this story, I was fascinated to read about this earthy little fellow’s amazing health benefits! Aparently it has a pretty versatile resume of ailments and conditions it helps to either prevent or heal running the scale from anemia to gout and dandruff. There seems to be some evidence that the betaine in beets has some anti-cancer qualities. Juicing for Health.com has a ton of information on the benefits, particularly related to beet juicing.
A few ways to prepare and enjoy beets
This very simple basic way of preparing beets is the origin of many a beet recipe . . . great for a myriad of salads, pickling, soups, or just enjoyed alone or with other roasted veggies.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash beets and remove roots and scrape off outer layer of dirty skin. I usually cut them in half or quarter them. Toss them with a little olive oil, salt & pepper and put them in a baking pan. I roast them uncovered, but if you want, some folks like to cover them with foil. Roast for about an hour and Voila! You have yummy, sweet, colorful and earthy beets.
There are probably thousands of borscht recipes, but here is a basic one I use and never make the same twice. This can be enjoyed cold in the summer and warm in the colder months.
10 – 12 small roasting potatoes, washed & quartered
4 carrots, sliced
4 celery sticks, chopped
2 small or 1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbls. olive oil
4 cups beef broth
4 cups pickled beets, sliced (you can cheat and buy (2) 16 oz. jars)
Cook potatoes in salted water for about 20 minutes (until tender), drain and put aside. Saute onions, carrots and celery in oil in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Once onions start getting translucent, add broth and bring to a boil. Simmer covered until veggies are tender – about 15 minutes. Stir in beets (include at least a 1/4 cup of the brine), simmer for about 10 minutes. Let cool (if summer and serving cold). Add potatoes after cooked, and serve with sour cream and freshly choppe dill for garnish. SERVES 8
Don’t forget your greens! Beet Greens
I’m not a huge fan of beet greens, but my dear friend and fellow Green Diva, Jenifer O’Neill has slowly indoctrinated me into the world of greens. It started with kale and here we go with her advice on beet greens – and it works!
Garlic (to taste, depends on how many greens you use)
Olive oil (2 – 4 Tbls. to start)
Lemon Juice (2 – 4 Tbls. or to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Roasted pin nuts (optional – as per your taste)Wash, dry and cut your greens and with the beets, make sure to remove the larger bits of stems. You can either slice the garlic and pre fry it a little in the olive oil or just mash it and cook slightly before adding kale. Kale will take the longest to cook, so cook that for several minutes. Add the beet greens and cook for another couple of minutes, putting lid on to keep moisture in between stirring and adding stuff. Put the spinach in last because that cooks super quickly. Add lemon juice and salt and roasted pine nuts or whatever else you want to add (in the winter I’ve used dried berries of some kind).