Recipes for survival!
Simple to prepare, this vegetable has a few nutritional surprises. Beetroot is a rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium, vitamin C, and betaine, which is important for cardiovascular health.
Beetroot fresh from the garden
Betaine functions by acting with other nutrients to reduce the concentration of homocysteine, a byproduct of the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine, which can be harmful to blood vessels and contributes to the develop with S-adenosylmethionine, folic acid, and vitamins B6 and B12 to carry out this function.
Did I lose you in there, with all the medical mumbo jumbo?
Ok that’s the medical terminology out of the way. Let’s put it in plain and simple English
Beetroot is a powerful weapon in the prevention of heart disease, provided you have a good healthy diet. It contains compounds that utilize common vitamins – folic acid, Vitamins B6 and B12, found in a healthy diet, to disarm a byproduct of an amino acid that hardens arteries, makes the arterial wall ‘sticky’ and induces clumping of platelets that form clots – the cause of coronaries, the most common form of heart disease.
Beetroot - a powerful weapon against cardiovascular disease.
These vitamins were first discovered only in the 1920s and science is still investigating all the reactions involved but we have enough evidence to say there are links between the interaction of these vitamins and several illnesses. That doesn’t say that consuming these vitamins with beetroot will prevent these conditions because there are other contributing factors too. It does say that this will substantially reduce some of the risks of suffering these ailments.
Beetroot contains a healthy range of vitamins
Folic acid is found in beetroot. It increases lipolysis (the body’s breakdown of fats) and may have a role in the prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes. The highest sources of folic acid are green leafy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, and turnip greens. As a general rule, the darker green, the higher the folic acid content. Folic acid is alo found in legumes such as dried or fresh beans, peas and lentils. Liver, kydney and sunflower seeds also contain high amounts of folate. Egg yolks, baker's yeast, fortified grain products (pasta, cereal, bread) and some breakfast cereals (ready-to-eat and others) are fortified with 25% to 100% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of folic acid. A low level of folic acid is suspected of contributing to depression, macular degeneration, bone health, menopause side effects, fertility, and may increase the risk of schizophrenia. There is a small correlation between low levels of folic acid and allergic diseases like asthma and wheezing but so far, we don't know why.
Vitamin B6 is widely distributed in foods in both its free and bound forms. Good sources include meats, whole grain products, vegetables, nuts and bananas.
Vitamin B12 is found in foods that come from animals, including fish and shellfish, meat (especially liver), poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. One half chicken breast provides some 0.3 µg (micrograms) per serving or 6.0% of one's daily value (DV); 85 grams (3 oz) of beef, 2.4 µg, or 40% of one's DV; one slice of liver 47.9 µg or 780% of DV; and 85 grams (3 oz) of molluscs 84.1 µg, or 1,400% of DV.
When these three vitamins are present along with beetroot in your diet, they react to to reduce the concentration of homocysteine in the blood, which reduces arterial hardening, sticky arterials walls and excessive clotting - the major cause of coronaries.
There are a lot of recipes using beetroot in different ways. Personally I like it pickled in lemon juice or vinegar, the traditional way. Tomatoes are red and in food they add a red colour - beetroot are intense crimson (not just red) and the colour will dominate everything, even in small quantities turning food a disquietening shocking pink. The intense colour when it is made into a soup or used in baking, puts me right off. At a very exclusive function once, they served beetroot soup. I didn't know whether to eat it or start painting with it. Several guests didn't touch theirs. It had bits of beetroot in it and looked like something left behind in an operating theatre!
Beetroot soup tastes great if you can overlook the colour!
I was shamed into eating it and it was very nice but I wouldn't suggest you serve it at a party unless you have the inlaws coming or guests you don't like. Beetroot does go very well in a salad, as long as you don't want to keep it for tomorrow. If you are catering for a party tomorrow and preparing the salads tonight, cut the beetroot ready to use and add it to the salad on the day it is being served. This stops a great salad developing shocking pink salad dressing.
Beetroot goes well in a salad
You may have noticed there are young beetroot leaves in the salad too. They are edible and a common addition to those packs of salad green varieties sold at the supermarket. Only use the very young leaves because they get tough as they get larger and acquire a strong musky bitter tase when raw. The leaves can be boiled and eaten too, and are very similar to silver beet or chard, nice tossed in a little butter with fresh ground black pepper.
In this salad, for four servings, I used two handfuls of raw broad beans, two large cooked beetroot, 200gms of Danish fetta (not as tasty as Bulgarian but less crumbly). I have used rocket, tatsoi and basil leaves (sounds exotic? - it was all I had in the garden) but any salad greens will do. The dressing is rice bran oil and white wine in equal portions, two cloves of garlic and finely chopped, bruised rosemary. I use rice bran oil in salads because it's virtually tasteless and I don't like food that tastes of oil but I need the oil to coat the food and disperse the flavours in the dressing.
Indonesia's Lethal Food
For those of you who read the whole page, here's a hidden surprise recipe for adding a real gourmet touch to any meal and this makes a garnish that won't wilt or shrivel up on or next to that hot steak, straight from the grill. It's not listed on our recipe pages.
To most people beetroot comes in a can. However beetroot is nice roasted, the same as you would carrots. It is also nice raw and makes a visually stunning salad garnish that is so simple to prepare and has an amazing earthy smoky taste that goes well with beef or fish. It will turn a simple dish into a gourmet dish that shows off your creative cullinary skills.
Raw beetroot, fetta and mint salad
Ingredients -You'll need two beetroot, a swede, some bulgarian fetta, and an apple or pear (one that is not softly ripe). For the dressing, you'll need a lemon, some fresh mint, some salad oil, rosemary, oregano (dried), salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Make sure you wear an apron because the beetroot juice stains some fabrics and wash your hands after handling the beetroot, so you don't leave red prints throughout the kitchen.
The Salad base - Peel the beetroot, swede, apple or pear and remove the core. Cut into very thin slices then cut them into very thin strings. If you have a coarse grater that's sharp enough, you could cheat and grate them - works well for a garnish. Feeling really brave and creative?. . . Try adding a small handful of cashew muts or wallnuts roughly chopped up into big chunks.
The Dressing - Finely grate the rind off one half of the lemon, to make fresh lemon zest. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and add an equal amount of salad oil to the lemon juice and add the lemon zest. Chop up the rosemary and a few mint leaves finely and bruise them in a mortar and pestle. Add the lot together with some salt. Add one good sized pinch of oragano and leave the mixture to stand for a while.(By the way, this dressing will keep for two weeks in the fridge).
Finally - Cut up the fetta into thin slices so it crumbles. Take the smallest leaves off the mint, not too many and toss these with the fetta and strings of beetroot, swede and apple or pear. Add the dressing and let stand for an hour so, tossing every so often so the flavours combine and work through the mixture.
The strong smoky flavour of the beetroot and the tartness of the dressing makes a little magic happen and you get this tangy earthy garnish that will have everone loving it and guessing how you make it. It's great as a garnish with hot meat, like a steak in the summer because it can be placed next to hot food but untlike most raw garnishes won't wilt and shrivel up to look like a soggy peice of toilet tissue on the plate.