Beets are an amazing superfood containing multiple healthy nutritional attributes as well as great flavor and excellent eye appeal. This root vegetable’s top has an often overlooked green which can be cooked in soups or steamed and has a similar taste to spinach. Beets are found in a variety of colors like yellow or golden, stripped red and white, as in chioggia with its magical concentric circles, or deep reddish purple in its more traditional form.
A huge amount of vitamins and minerals are contained within this humble root such as iron, vitamins A, B and C, as well as abundant betaines used to treat mental health. They cleanse the body helping to stabilize liver function by working to reduce accumulations of fat and add a potent form of natural sugar to the diet. This sugar is released slowly into the body lowering the blood pressure so it is heart healthy and also relaxes the mind. All red foods, including beets, help to augment and empower the production of blood thereby increasing hemoglobin levels. Beets deliver a high source of usable energy and many athletes know the benefits of juicing beets increases their blood flow as well as their athletic performance.
Is it any wonder that in 1975, beets in the form of borscht soup was served in space when the U.S. and Russian teams hooked up on an international mission? This powerful vegetable is served in a variety of dishes, either boiled, roasted, shredded raw in salads, or pickled as discussed in the recipe below. Whether served with horseradish as a condiment in Poland, or as a favorite spicy fermented addition to burgers in Australia and New Zealand, the beet has proven itself to be a worldwide favorite. Many foods such as tomato sauce, jams, sweets, and breakfast cereals use the strong color of beets plus the healthy variety of its sugar to enhance their products.
In picking beets, select those that have unmarked skins, good tails, bright and preferably lively greens still attached. To use the greens, cut off the woody stems (reserve them for juicing if you like) and discard the tails. Coarsely chop the leaves and steam until the color is a bright, vivid green and serve with soy margarine and a pinch of sea salt. Note, when juicing beets it is only necessary to use a large slice or two and combine it with carrots or celery since it has a strong flavor and will dominate the juice in color and taste. It is best to start off slowly and increase later wooing the taste buds.
For this pickled beet recipe, cut off the greens and tail, peel the skin off the vegetable and wash them well. Since the intense color of the beet will stain one’s hands use thin plastic bags to grip the beets before peeling. Also protect your clothes from stains and splashes and the cutting board by slicing beets on paper plates. I used a Cuisinart food processor with the slicing blade set to thin to get the uniform variety that I desired with very little muscle power. Although many pickled recipes call for sugar to be added to the beets, I find this unnecessary since the beets have their own natural sugar power and surely we get enough of that dubious substance without adding more.
2 large beets
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 oz. fresh dill
3 cups water
1/2 cup “Bragg’s” apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. minced fresh garlic
2 tbsp. dried or fresh parsley as garnish
Cut the peeled, washed beets and onion in thin slices either by hand or with food processor. Chop the dill discarding the lower portions of the stem. Add to the water and slow boil for about 20 minutes until the pieces are fork tender. Add the vinegar, garlic and sea salt and mix well. When cool after about an hour, filter the beets from the water, top with parsley and place in the refrigerator to cool. Best served the next day. Note: the vinegar water can be reserved in the refrigerator to drink separately and is very refreshing.
TO YOUR HEALTH!