We got the Beet!

We got the Beet, we got the Beet, we got the Beet… Yeah, we got the Beet! 🎶

This week we have not one, but two recipes for you try!  If you’re like me, beetroot or beets as they are commonly called, have been a food you’ve always wanted to try, but never really had the guts to actually do so.  And no beet chips do not count!  Although I have had beet chips and I do enjoy them tremendously.  But seriously, let’s talk about beets and how beneficial they can be to your health.  

Beets are a source of not only essential vitamins and minerals, but also dietary nitrates. What are dietary nitrates you ask?  Okay, quick chemistry lesson.  Nitrates contain 3 oxygen atoms.  Once nitrates are exposed to bacteria in the body or enzymes in food, they become nitrites which have 2 oxygen atoms.  Adding nitrites to meat, prevents them from turning brown.  Nitrites are the reason whey cured meat is pink or red.  Nitrites then turn in to nitric oxide, which is good.  However, it can turn be converted into nitrosamines, which are bad.  

Okay, now that we’ve had a quick chemistry lesson, lets talk about why nitrates are good for you.    Approximately 80% of dietary nitrates are derived from vegetable consumption; sources of nitrites include vegetables, fruit, and processed meats (1).  Vegetables are the biggest dietary source of nitrates. Nitrate- rich vegetables increase plasma concentrations of nitrate and nitrite.  These increased concentrations have been show to lower blood pressure in healthy adults (2).  Beetroot juice, with its high concentration on nitrates, has become popular dietary supplement over the past decade cardio protective properties.  

In addition to lowering blood pressure, beets have been proven to possess antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties.  Oxidative stress plays a role in the pathophysiology in over 200 clinical conditions.  The pigment in beets, betalain, has been shown to protect cellular components from oxidative stress.  Chronic inflammation as a result of clinical disorders such as obesity, liver disease, cancer and heart disease can be partially mediated by the anti-inflammatory effects of betalain and beetroot extracts (3).

It is important to note that excessive intake of dietary nitrates and nitrites can lead to negative health effects.  Of primary concern is their association with processed and cured meats.  Nitrates added to meats serve as antioxidants, develop flavor, and stabilize the red color in meats but must be converted to nitrite to exert these actions (1).  Consumption of certain types red and processed meats are associated with an increased risk of cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  However, the correlation between nitrates/ nitrites and processed meat needs to be studied further to assess to what extent nitrates/ nitrites contribute to cancer risk (4).  

Overall, beets are low in calories, high in water and a great source of several nutrients including fiber, folate and vitamin C.

I am so excited for you to try these recipes!  The first recipe is a roasted beet toast which is great for a light lunch.   Using packaged beets and preparing the pesto the night before, will lead to quick preparation.  Choose a bread you love and top it with your roasted beet/ pesto mixture.  Only thing you’ll have to master is poaching an egg.  Don’t make that face… you can do it!  The second recipe is a salad that you can prepare the night before, pack it up and take it the next day for lunch.  However, if you’re like me, you can most certainly eat the salad immediately after preparation.   The salad lends itself to being a companion to a lean protein.  Try pairing it with a lean steak, roasted chicken, or broiled fish for a complete meal.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do!  

References:

  1. Hord NG, Tang Y & Bryan NS (2009) Food sources of nitrates and nitrites: the physiologic context for potential health benefits. Am J Clin Nutr 90, 1–10.
  2. Jonvik, K. L., Nyakayiru, J., Pinckaers, P. J., Senden, J. M., Loon, L. J., & Verdijk, L. B. (2016). Nitrate-Rich Vegetables Increase Plasma Nitrate and Nitrite Concentrations and Lower Blood Pressure in Healthy Adults. Journal of Nutrition, 146(5), 986-993. doi:10.3945/jn.116.229807
  3. Clifford, T., Howatson, G., West, D. J., & Stevenson, E. J. (2015). The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease. Nutrients, 7(4), 2801–2822. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu7042801
  4. Etemadi, A., Sinha, R., Ward, M. H., Graubard, B. I., Inoue-Choi, M., Dawsey, S. M., & Abnet, C. C. (2017). Mortality from different causes associated with meat, heme iron, nitrates, and nitrites in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study: population based cohort study. The BMJ, 357, j1957. http://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j1957

Roasted Beet Toasts w/ Cranberry Pesto Vinaigrette, Poached Egg

Ingredients:

4 medium sized beets 

1/2 cup kale

1/2 cup packed basil leaves

1/2 cup cranberries

1/4 cup super seeds or nut (chia, sunflower, hemp, flax, almonds, walnuts)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup parmesan

2 garlic cloves (diced)

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp lemon juice

Salt to taste

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 slices seeded multigrain bread

For Beets: If roasting fresh: place beets in roasting pan with a 1 cup red wine vinegar. Add water until 3/4 of beets are covered. Cover roasting pan with foil. Braise for 1 hour at 400 degrees or until fork tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool. But not too much. Using a kitchen towel or peeler, remove skin and dice, slice, or into wedges.  If using packaged beet just cut into wedges.

For Cranberry Pesto: Pulse seeds for 10 seconds and nuts in food processor then remove and set aside.  Add remaining ingredients to food processor except for oil and parmesan cheese.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil, while pulsing.  Pour into mixing bowl.  Fold in cheese and pulsed seeds.  Salt to taste. You can adjust amount of cranberries to desired flavor.

For poached egg: 

 

Ingredients: 2 large eggs & 1/2 tbsp white vinegar

Fill a large straight-sided skillet with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil.  Add vinegar and return to a boil. Break one egg into a small heatproof bowl. Placing lip of bowl in the water, gently tip the bowl to slide egg carefully into pan. Use a large slotted spoon to fold the edges of the white over the egg, for a neater edge. Repeat with remaining eggs. 

Cook until whites are just set but the yolks are still soft, they should still move around inside, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Lift out eggs with a slotted spoon or small mesh sieve and briefly rest on bread to allow eggs to drain. Trim edges with a knife for a prettier presentation before serving on toast, if desired, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

To assemble:

Toss roasted beets in pesto mixture.  Spoon onto toasted bread.  Top with poached egg. 

Enjoy!

Roasted Beet, Farro, and Tuscan Kale Salad w/ Dried Cranberries and Orange Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

1 cup faro

1 small sweet onion (diced)

1 qt. vegetable or chicken stock

4 medium beets (substitute: package beets)

1 bunch kale (stems removed)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup orange juice

3 tbsp champagne or sherry vinegar

Zest of 1 orange

2 tbsp whole grain mustard

1 tbsp honey

Salt (optional)

For Faro: Sweat diced onion on low heat. Add faro and stock. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Stir in 1 tbsp butter (can substitute 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil) to finish. Set aside.

For Beets: If roasting fresh: place beets in roasting pan with a 1 cup red wine vinegar. Add water until 3/4 of beets are covered. Cover roasting pan with foil. Braise for 1 hour at 400 degrees or until fork tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool. But not too much. Using a kitchen towel or peeler, remove skin and dice, slice, or into wedges.  If using packaged beet just cut into wedges.

For Kale:  Rough chop kale. Sauté over medium heat until wilted and tender. About 4 minutes.  Set aside.

For Vinaigrette:  Add orange juice, champagne vinegar, orange zest, whole grain mustard and honey to food processor.  With the food professor on medium setting, slow drizzle in extra virgin olive oil to emulsify mixture.  If whisking by hand, slowly add in oil while whisking.  Salt to taste.

Toss together all prepared ingredient together and top with dried cranberries.  Can be served warm or room temperature.

Enjoy!

 

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