Thursday, August 08, 2013

Just Beet It

It's Week #7 of my CSA with Jen Campbell. It's also August 8th, which freaked me out momentarily today, because that means that today is the beginning of Olde Home Week, which has historically marked The End of Summer.  Then I took a deep breath and reminded myself of the following: a) September =  Fall Flavours, a whole month of food gluttony across PEI, b) I'm heading to the Deep South in a couple of weeks for an awesome, hot roadtripping vacation c) I don't have to go back to school in September since I'm already, technically in school and d) I'm not even half way through my CSA season with Jen! All of these facts made me smile. It also didn't hurt that I spent the majority of today at a sandy, sun-drenched beach.  I hope each of you can also find a list of reasons to not fret about The End of Summer!

When I went to pick up my CSA veggies yesterday, I was accompanied by my wonderful friend, Kate, who was visiting the Maritimes from Ontario. Kate has her own CSA box and also gets organic milk delivered to her house every week (jealous!). When Jen C. tried to hand me a bunch of beets, I turned them down. Well, I tried to turn them down, but Kate protested quite profusely.  She was appalled that I would be turning down this delicious root vegetable.  I informed her that I enjoy beets, I just don't enjoy the amount of work involved in preparing them.  She then volunteered to cook them up herself and insisted that it was easy-peasy to cook new beets.   So, in the end, I came home with a bunch of beets.

Kate went to work in the kitchen, cutting of the greens, which I was instructed to save for inclusion in future beet-infused salad.  She cut off the tops and bottoms and then quartered the beets. I was perplexed, because she hadn't peeled them and I was certain that beets needed to be peeled (and that this was the arduous part of beet cooking that I was adamantly against participating in).  This is when she informed me that I should think of beets just like new potatoes. I hate to admit it, but the potato analogy really hit home with this Islander.  New potatoes can be boiled, roasted, or BBQd and don't need to be peeled. Evidently the same holds true for new beets, although mature beets (i.e. winter beets) should be peeled just liked winter potatoes.

Once the beets had been boiled (just like potatoes), we just popped them into a container and put them in the fridge for consumption today/tomorrow. This evening I had a simple green salad infused with slivers of beet and crumbled feta cheese. Yum. Kate directed me to a friend of hers, Holly, who blogs about food and her kids. I've included a couple of Holly's beet recipes at the bottom of this blog post and linked to her blog, in case you are interested.  FTR: I have no idea how any parent of young children has time to blog about anything, let alone food blogging and including amazing pictures, so kudos to Sally and Sarah, who are blogging food recipes for Jen this summer. 

So, aside from being delicious and 'just like new potatoes', what's so awesome about beets?


1. Beets for Brain Power -  Beets can help increase the flow of blood through your body, which, in turn, increases the supply of oxygen, nutrients and energy to your brain (and other parts of your body too!).  This special beet power is due to the high content of natural nitrates (natural nitrates are good), which is converted into nitric oxide by the body, where it then contributes to expansion of your blood vessels. Yay!

 2. Get Your Groove On, Thanks to Boron - So, along with oysters and other edible delicacies, beets have historically been considered a natural aphrodisiac. There may actually be some validity to this claim, given the above noted blood vessel expanding powers of the beet, as well as its high concentration of boron, which has been linked to increased production of testosterone. So, say Good Morning, Good Morning to a bowlful of beets (this makes sense if you know of the advertisement that I am referring to!).

3. Beat Inflammatory Conditions with Beets - Inflammation is your body's natural response to a foreign substance (e.g. virus, bacteria, etc.), and in these instances inflammation is good. Unfortunately, your body can also respond to stress, undigested food proteins and other non-threatening substance via an inflammatory response. Over the long-term, this can wreak havoc on your body in many ways and contribute to conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, bronchitis, and heart disease (to name only a few).  The nutrients that give beets their deep red color also happen to serve as a natural anti-inflammatory.

4. Cleanse Yourself...with Beets - Anyone who has explored the world of cleansing has probably consumed beet juice, or at least been advised that beet juice is an  excellent cleanser.  The antioxidants in beets aid with deep cleansing of the body's cells. We can all benefit from regularly ridding ourselves of the toxins that accumulate in our body's.  A beet juice cleanse might be a bit extreme for most people, so just enjoy beets in your salad or as a side and skip the extreme-ness!

5.  Beet Heart-Friendly -  Beets can contribute to cardiovascular health thanks to the betaine contained in beets. It does so by helping reduce the body's concentration of homocysteine, which can be harm the body's blood vessels.

The above are just a few of the many reasons that you should most definitely accept beets with great enthusiasm when they are presented to you by your farmer :)
Image Source

 For those of you that want some quick, easy recipes that include beets, try the ones below from  Stories for My Sister (thanks to Kate for introducing me to Holly's blog!)
Balsamic Glazed n Braised Beets and Greens
Adapted from Peter Berley’s recipe, from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen
1 medium red onion, cut into wedges or crescents
4-5 fresh beets (more if you’re using smaller beets, enough to cover the bottom of your pan in a snug layer) with tops*, roots trimmed, and cut into wedges,
Beet greens,  chopped*.
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

*if you can’t get beets with the tops still on (PIPPA: DON”T USE CANNED BEETS), you could probably substitute other greens such as collards, chard, mustard greens, or, OK, twist my arm: kale – but I wouldn’t use spinach, I don’t think it’s tough enough for this job.

1. In a heavy pan that has a cover, arrange the beet slices and onion so that they fit snugly on the bottom of the pan. Add the vinegar, oil, thyme, and 1/2 tsp salt. Toss and then pour enough water over top to just cover the vegetables, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or so, until the beets are nearly tender, but not quite.
2. Raise the heat and boil, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced to a syrup and the beets are fork-tender.
3. Add the beet greens, reduce the heat again, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Uncover and turn the greens over so they mix with the beets. Add pepper and salt to taste. Simmer for 2 minutes more and serve.

Beet & Green Apple Salad with almond-butter vinaigrette 
Created by me and STOLEN!!! by a famous chef. I first made this salad with wheat berries, which made it more of a hearty lunch-salad that I kept in the fridge and dipped into all week. You can omit the wheat berries and just go with the beets and apples if you want more of a refreshing side-salad. Barley I guess could work as a wheat-berry substitute, but try wheat berries – they’re lovely. If I could get farro here, I think that’d be even lovelier. 

2 cups cooked wheat berries
1 granny smith apple, skin ON, chopped or sliced as your whimsy takes you
1 cup cooked, then grated or chopped beets
1/2 cup toasted pecans (pieces or halves, whatever’s training in your cupboard).
Vinaigrette: (makes about half a cup)
1 tablespoon almond butter
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (wine vinegar if you must, white  de préférence)
2-3 tbsp walnut oil (olive oil would be ok if you don’t have walnut)
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp powdered ginger (or very, very finely minced fresh ginger)
Water or apple juice to thin to desired consistency
Salt & pepper to taste.
1. In a small jar, combine the vinaigrette ingredients (all except the water or juice). Shake the jar and add water or apple juice to thin the vinaigrette to the desired consistency. Salt to taste.
2. Combine all the salad ingredients except the pecans and toss with the vinaigrette. If you are going to eat it later, save the pecans on the side or they’ll get soggy. Saving a bit of the vinaigrette will freshen it up too as the wheat berries will absorb a lot of the dressing as they sit around.
3. Serve with the pecans sprinkled over top.
Now, with those leftover beets, do you want a recipe for beet muffins????  Cause I got one.
*PITA =  Pain In The Ass


Rob said...

I have the same reluctance with beets - too much work! But we now roast them. Simply top and tail them and quarter and roast like a potato in a fat - pick a good one said...

Hi Shannon,

Healthline is interested in contributing a guest post to We would be open to contributing any blog that would be of interest to your readers. Healthline bloggers have been featured on a variety of sites including:

Washington Times:
Natural News:

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Warm Regards,

Maggie Danhakl- Assistant Marketing Manager
p: 415-281-3124 f: 415-281-3199

Healthline Networks, Inc. • Connect to Better Health
660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107