Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Beautiful Benefits of Beets

The Beautiful Benefits of Beets

During the summer months, and into the early fall, one is bound to come across local and organic farmers markets, where everything is tantalizingly fragrant, vibrantly colorful and oh so fresh. I am always drawn to the beautiful deep purple and yellow beets. Beets are part of the chenopod family, and show continued increase in health benefits. The pigments that give beets their rich colors are called betacyanins.

Beets contain many phytonutrients, including betanin and vulgaxanthin, both of which have been proven to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification benefits. And why throw out the beet greens? Beet greens are a valuable source of lutein and zeaxanthin. These are two carotenoid pigments and phytonutrients, that play a very important role in health, particularly eye health. One cup of red beet greens, may contain over 275 micro grams of lutein, so toss them into your favorite salad greens and enjoy. Yellow beets are also valuable sources of carotenoid

The additional benefit of the antioxidant qualities of beets, have made them beneficial in the treatment of colon, stomach, nerve, lung, breast and testicular cancer. Beet fiber has also been proven to be a specific type of fiber, which benefits the digestive tract. Beets are also known to boost immune function, slow down the aging process and protect against Alzheimer's disease.

The nitrates in beets help reduce blood pressure and reduce heart attacks, thus enhancing our cardiovascular system in addition to the multitude of other health benefits. Being naturally sweet in taste, beets may even help curb that sweet tooth that always seems to presents itself, and therefore reduce cravings for sugar.
There are many ways to enjoy beets. In the summer months cold beet root soup is one way to enjoy their rich flavor, or simply juice them with other of your favorite fruit and veggies. My roasted beet recipe is always a standard in my kitchen. Eaten as a side dish, added to quinoa with chickpeas, or chopped into a salad. This is the recipe that I make repeatedly for my family

Roasted Beet Salad Recipe

8-10 Whole Beets
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 TB fresh orange rind
1 TB Honey 
Coarse ground salt and black pepper 

My favorite way to cook beets is to roast them. What I do first is to wash them thoroughly under cold water, scrubbing off all the soil, dry them and wrap them in aluminum foil individually, and place on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven. Bake for anything from 40 to 90 minutes, depending on size. They should be tender when pierced with a fork.
While beets are roasting spread sunflower seeds out alongside the beets in the dish and toast for about 8 minutes. While the beets are roasting mix all ingredients for the dressing.

Remove both the beets and the sunflower seeds from the oven.
Once the beets are cool, peel them, the skins should come off easily. Cut into quarters, and place in a roasting pan with half of the dressing. Replace beets in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes to roast.

Once cooled, place the roasted beets over your favorite salad greens, with the beet greens and sprinkle with roasted sunflower seeds. Dress, and enjoy. Depending on your preference you may sprinkle goat cheese grilled salmon or grilled chicken for additional protein options.