Beet Root Recipe: The Heart Beet of Root Veggies
Word of Caution: Beets are my Heart Beet for Fall and Winter eating pleasure. I recognize there are varying degrees of love for beets. For instance, I have even witnessed that there can be either a love or hate (hard to believe) of beets, no grey area. From my experience, the main turn off beet dis-likers have is beet’s strong earthy taste. I remember my kids complaining that it is like eating dirt. That is to say, they refuse to eat beets, well, unless it is their Gramma’s pickled beets. By the way, the earthy taste is what I love. Stick with me as we discover the many health benefits of beets. In addition, you’ll learn different ways to enjoy them and finish up with a beet root recipe for Borscht!
The Beet is the most intense of vegetables.
The Radish, admittedly, is more feverish,
but the fire of the radish is a cold fire,
the fire of discontent, not of passion.
Tomatoes are lusty enough,
yet there runs through Tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity.
Beets are deadly serious.
–Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
If, for instance, potatoes, or any other root veggie, are your heartbeat of root veggies, go with what you love. Whole foods are the best nourishment for our bodies. Whole foods that we truly love is the best nourishment for our souls. Enjoying what we eat is a nourishing and sensual experience.
The Definition Of A Beet
On the subject of beets, they are defined in Merriam Webster’s dictionary as: the rounded red root of the beet plant that is eaten as a vegetable.
The heavy green foliage top plant is dense with nutrients. Steamed and eaten is a popular preparation.
My favorite variety is definitely the deep red-colored beets. I will be speaking mainly of these beets. Beets can range in color from creamy white to yellows (prized for their sweeter and less earthy taste) and oranges, purples, and the eye-catching, striped bullseye beet. Generally speaking, the different varieties of beets have similar nutritional value.
Wild beets origins are thought to be in Northern Africa. The root size of the wild beet was insignificant and the greens are what was eaten. Over time, and with the Romans using cultivation practices, the fuller beet root that we are familiar with was developed. It is believed that beet root was taken into European countries by the people who invaded Rome. Beets became a European staple food by the 16th century.
Health Benefits Of Beets:
- red-purple pigments which contain a variety of phytonutrients including betalains (betacyanins and betaxanthins) and anthocyanins that are both
- antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in nature,
- high in general fiber content,
- support phase 2 methylation support, this is one of your liver’s detoxification processes
- high in a special fiber, pectin polysaccharides, that are thought to contribute to lowering colon cancer risks and I am certain to keep you from being constipated and are
- thought to have other anti-cancer benefits: prostate, testicular, breast, stomach, colon, lung, and nerve.
Cancer-inhibiting and healing benefits of beets were harnessed in successful hospital programs in Csoma, Hungary in the late 1950s by Dr. Alexander Ferenczi. His studies were not taken seriously by the world medical community. In the late 1980s, his information was translated and published in an Australian clinical journal. The betacyanin, one of the compounds that give the characteristic red color and stains the hands, is now being looked at more seriously for its health benefits and its cancer-inhibiting and healing benefits.
Nourishing To The Body
The beet root powder is used in anti-anemia preparations. These are generally herbal formulas for supporting iron levels in the blood and body stores. Some formulas contain herbs and other whole-food powders and other formulas also contain small amounts of easily absorbable iron.
Beets are a starchy vegetable and are high in natural sugar. This is a whole food source of sugar complete with fiber and nutrients, much different from white table sugar and the sweet treats made with said white sugar. Beet roots contain noteworthy amounts of Vitamins A, B, and C and the minerals calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium. Beets are a rich source of glutamine, a detoxifying amino acid essential to the health and maintenance of normal flora in the intestinal tract. Another reason beets probably have anti-cancer benefits may be due to the liver detoxification function of Glutamine. Beets promote regular bowel habits thereby preventing constipation and are beneficial to regulating healthy cholesterol levels.
Ways To Enjoy Beets
At any rate, I could go on and on about the benefits of beets. Have I convinced you to give them a try, reconsider them if you earlier decided you disliked beets, or up your intake if you are a confirmed lover of beets? I will share some of my very easy methods to enjoy the heartbeat of beets:
- juice them and add carrots and/or apples to your juice to the mix. Ginger is nice in this mix as well.
- Grate them raw and bathe them in an olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing to which I sometimes add dried rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and parsley. Let this dressed beet dish sit for 20-30 minutes, well covered, before serving. I like to add chunks of apples, chopped fresh cilantro, and feta cheese to make it a meal. My favorite is the French Feta at the Co-op. Bonus: The apples and cilantro up the beet’s liver detoxing properties.
- Steam them whole. Be gentle when you cook beets to preserve their nutrients. Less water means less nutrient loss and remember to drink the water after cooking. Steam for about 20 minutes and not at a rolling boil. Peel your cooked beets after steaming and chop them up into bite-size pieces. Melt butter on them when they are still warm, sprinkle lightly with salt and enjoy. Simply enjoy beet chunks with a nice sized plop of sour cream.
- Chop them up and roast them quickly. Beets lose health benefits and nutrients when excessively cooked.
- Both the steamed and roasted beets are also good with cilantro, apple cider vinegar & olive oil dressing, and feta cheese.
- Make a big pot of Borscht & eat it all week changing what you serve it with at each meal: whole-grain bread, cheeses, chicken or fish, eggs, etc. Check out the beet root recipe for Borscht below!
Beet Root Recipe: Russian Cabbage Borscht
From the original Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen
Yes, I have a first printing. ?
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 ½ cups chopped onion
- 1 cup thinly sliced beets (I would use more)
- 3 cups chopped cabbage
- 1 ½ cups thinly sliced potato
- 1 large sliced carrot
- 4 cups stock or water
- 1 large stalk chopped celery
- 1 scant tsp caraway seeds
- 2 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp honey
- ¼ tsp dill weed
- 1 cup tomato puree
- Optional: 1 tbsp raisins
- Sour cream
- Dill weed
- Chopped tomato
- Place potatoes, beets, and water in a saucepan and cook until everything is tender. Save the water.
- After that, begin cooking the onions in the butter I a large kettle. Add caraway seeds and salt. Cook until onion is translucent, then add celery, carrots, and cabbage. Add the water from beets and potatoes and cook, covered, until all the vegetables are tender. Add potatoes, beets, and all remaining ingredients.
- In the next step, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste to correct seasonings. (Here is where I would differ in my cooking. If tender, I would not simmer any longer. Turn off the heat and let the soup sit while continuing the meal preparations. That is me, cooking less to preserve nutrition.)
- Finally, serve topped with sour cream, extra dill weed, chopped fresh tomatoes.
Additionally, all ingredients for the beet root recipe and my other beet eating suggestions are available, organically, at the Coop. I do suggest eating as close to 100% organic as possible.
Happy Feeding your Heart Beat with Beets!
- Whole Food Facts by Evelyn Roehl
- The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood
- Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs by John Heinerman
- Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen