Apparent nutritional/health benefits:
Beetroot is said to boost stamina and it contains potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B6, and C and folic acid, carbs, protein and powerful antioxidants such as betacyanin, carotenoids and flavonoids, plus soluble fibre and silica. It reduces blood pressure because the high content of nitrates produce a gas called nitric oxide in the blood, which widens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
The folic acid is essential for normal tissue growth and also for development of a baby's spinal cord in the first trimester of pregnancy, preventing conditions such as spina bifida. Also high in iron, it boosts energy during pregnancy.
Silica is a mineral that helps the body to utilise calcium, which is important for musculo-skeletal healt and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
The anti-oxidants and soluble fibre reduce the risk of the build-up of cholesterol in the arteries.
Beetroot is virtually fat free and low in calories, and an extremely low Glycaemic load, thereby converting into sugars very slowly, helping to keep blood sugar levels stable. The high iron content means its good for those with anaemia and fatigue.
Use roasted, steamed or boiled, hot, with your main meal and a little knob of butter and some greenery scattered over, or cold as a beetroot salad, grated or sliced with a good red wine vinaigrette. A new way we discovered serving them, especially when you have a batch of mostly white and yellow beets, is to toss them warm with salt, pepper, olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. They look and taste interesting done this way,adding pizzaz to any meal.
Tip: If you lack some of the ingredients but the recipe helps you to use what you have to make a tasty meal, consider its purpose served.
Roasted beet, mint and goats cheese salad (can also do on the braai, with favourite meats!)
Ingredients: fresh beets, olive oil, chives, medium cream sherry, fresh mint, fresh baby beet greens, other baby greens, fresh spinach, goat's cheese.
Directions: Preheat oven. Wash beets and slice tops and roots off. Place in tin foil, add 2 T olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Seal and bake for thirty minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Slice.
Drain beet oil from tin foil and place in a glass jar. Stir in 2 T sherry and 1 T olive oil. Finely chop 1 T chives, add to jar and season to taste. Finely chop 2 T mint into a salad bowl. Remove stems from spinach, tear and add and also baby beet greens and other baby greens/lettuce leaves. Stir in 3 T dressing and let salad rest for 5 minutes. Add the beets and the goat's cheese, drizzle more dressing and add another sprinkling of sea salt.
Roasted beets and baby brussel sprouts with pea shoot pesto:
To make any infused oils and vinegars, slice the required aromatic into 1cm slices and place in a jar. Add a little salt and cover with the oil or vinegar. Leave in the refrigerator for a week. Strain oil into a jar and reserve the greens to be used as and when needed, seperately.
Ingredients: fresh beets, fresh brussel sprouts, fresh baby collard greens (cabbage leaves) pea shoot pesto, spring onion infused olive oil, crumbly white cheese of your choice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Make your own pea shoot pesto: take 1,5 cups tightly packed pea shoots, half cup tightly packed basil, 2 cloves garlic, 1/3 cup pine nuts, half cup olive oil, half cup parmesan cheese. Combine everything bar the olive in a food processor, cover and pulse until combined. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and pulse until smooth.
Directions: Preheat oven, high heat. Wash beets and slice tops and roots off. Toss beets and brussel sprouts into a bowl with one T oil, sea salt and pepper. Stir well and rest a few minutes. Place beets and sprouts on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Place collard greens in a bowl and add 1 t oil, and toss with sea salt. Move beets and brussel sprounts to a bowl and add in some pesto and stir well. Place beets and sprounts back on baking sheet with cabbage leaves and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Plate cabbage leaves and and top with vegetable mix and a few dollops of white cheese.