Beet it with Laura Kurella!


Offering a captivating color, even hummus can be enhanced by the beauty, and benefits, of beets! Photo by Laura Kurella

Offering a captivating color, even hummus can be enhanced by the beauty, and benefits, of beets! Photo by Laura Kurella

When it comes to beets there appears to be two different camps: Lovers and Haters. To be honest, I have long been a member of the latter camp. However, since their benefits are so amazing, and my husband loves them, I have come around, and realized that all of us, both lovers and haters, need to add the benefit of beets into our lives wherever and however we can!

Coming to us from the Middle Ages, beets have a long history as a food, a medicinal plant, and as a colorant, too.

Possessing anti-aging properties, beets contain vitamin A, beets, which improves skin health, and vitamin C, which protects skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation while giving your skin a more youthful glow. This is why you see vitamin C popping up in so many face creams these days.

Studies reveal that beets can lower blood pressure in a matter of just four weeks thanks to special nitrates, which cause blood vessels to expand. Scientists say that consuming just 8.5 ounces of beet juice a day (one glass) is all it takes to provide a better, lower blood pressure.

Studies also reveal that beets may reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes, and that just one week of regular beet juice dosing can help improve endurance.

Known for helping prevent myocardial infarction, improving delivery of oxygen to muscles, and helping to prevent cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, and skin, beets, when taken along with carrot extract too, can also aid in the treatment of leukemia.

Containing pectin, which helps eliminate toxins and enhance liver health, beets help improve cerebral blood flow, which helps enhance brain function. Able to help improve digestion and blood quality, decrease cholesterol levels, and help with anemia, with so many health benefits to offer, we’d be crazy not to take advantage of the many benefits there are available in beets.

If you are not so fond of beets, try looking for alternative sources to get their goodness in, such as chews or gummy supplements, or even pills, which are widely available these days. You can also be brave and simply slam a glass of quality beet juice in a few gulps, followed by a more favorable chaser, if you prefer.

Give your body the benefits of beets. Here now are some bold and beautiful ways to BEET it. Enjoy!

Laura Kurella is an award-winning recipe developer, journalist, and self-syndicated newspaper food columnist who enjoys living in the Midwest. She welcomes your question or comments at laurakurella@yahoo.com.

Beautiful Homemade Beet Hummus Prep Time:5 minutes. Yield: 1 1/2 cups.

1 cooked beet
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
15 ounces cooked chickpeas (about 1
and 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
3/4 teaspoon unrefined mineral sea
salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin (optional)

Garnish: Cilantro, slivered or chopped pistachios or cashews (optional)/ Into the bowl of a food processor add the garlic and process until finely minced. Add the cooked beet, chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, salt, and puree for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and taste. If dry, add a little water, 1 to 2 tablespoons. Puree for 1 to 2 minutes until you arrive at a creamy consistency. Just before serving, top hummus with cilantro leaves and nuts, if desired. Serve with veggies, pita bread, or crackers. Stores refrigerated for 7 to 10 days.

Beefy Borscht (Russian Beet Soup)

STOCK
• 1/2 pound beef chuck with the bone,
well rinsed
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
• 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
• 2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
• 2 quarts beef or chicken bone broth

SOUP
• 1-pound beets, trimmed and peeled
• 3 large carrots, trimmed and peeled

1/4 head of green cabbage, shredded
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and
sliced
2 large onions, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sour cream and lemon wedges, to
taste

For stock, in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat, add oil then sear beef until caramelized, on both sides. Add chopped onion, stirring, and sear until onions begin to caramelize, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add prepared carrots and celery, stir, and sear for two minutes then add broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer, and gently cook, skimming the top surface for about 30 minutes, or until impurities no longer appear.

Cover pot and simmer for one hour or until meat falls off the bone. Transfer beef to a bowl and pull meat off the bones. Chop the meat into bite-sized pieces and set them aside. Strain the stock into a clean and heat proof container. Press vegetables against a screen strainer to remove as much liquid and flavor as you can. Feed remaining solids to pets or compost.

To make the soup, return strained stock to the pot, add beets and carrots. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes or until beets are tender. Remove from broth, and set aside. To broth add cabbage, onion, and potatoes. Bring it to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes or until tender. Add tomato paste then cut cooked beets and carrots into tiny pieces and add to soup. Stir then add salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Serve in warmed bowls with a dollop of sour cream and a lemon wedge, if desired.

Glorious Balsamic Glazed Beets Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes; Yield: 6 to 8 servings

2 pounds red beets, medium-sized,
scrubbed clean, green tops removed
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Unrefined mineral sea salt, to taste
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar or sub
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a jelly roll pan with parchment or foil Prepare the beets in the pan. Rub olive oil over the beets, and sprinkle with salt. Cover beets with a sheet of parchment then foil then place in the oven and roast for 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the beets and how old they are. After 1 hour start testing every fifteen minutes by poking a beet with the tines of a fork. Once the fork tines go in easily, the beets are tender and cooked and can be removed from the oven.

While the beets are cooling, in a small, shallow sauté pan, combine balsamic vinegar and sugar. Place pan over high heat, stirring, until vinegar reduces to a syrup consistency, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

After the beets have cooled for several minutes, but are still warm to the touch, peel off the outer skins and discard/compost. Cut beets into quarters or bite-sized pieces.

Place beet pieces into a serving bowl then pour prepared balsamic glaze over beets. Stir in grated orange zest, then salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a little extra orange zest, if desired, right before serving.

Easy Beet Smoothie Prep Time: 5 minutes. Yield: 2 small smoothies

1 small raw beet (about 2/3 cup
peeled and diced)
1 large green apple
1 banana
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks or
mango
1/2 cup water
10 ice cubes

Wash, rinse and peel the raw beet, then dice it carefully because beet juice stains, and place into a blender cup. Wash and rinse the apple then core and chop and place it into a cup with beets. Break the banana into pieces, placing the pieces into a blender cup. To the blender cup add frozen pineapple, water, and ice cubes then blend until smooth. Consume immediately or store for up to one day in a sealed jar, or pour into popsicle mold and freeze to consume later as a frozen treat!

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