Just Beet It

My love-hate relationship with red beets started many moons ago.  Fortunately, our late pop-star MJ, captures the essence of my former disdain for red beets rather well (look at his face).  He didn’t just belt out “Just Beat It” to bring insight into the web of inner-city gangs, he also sang to unleash the powerful chant to nourish yourself…that’s right, “Just BEET it.”

If my mother is reading this post, then she knows that I’ve come a long way.  One night, in New Orleans, she had prepared cooked beets.  I was to eat them.  I told her that red beets gave me a gag reflex.  She didn’t believe me.  After the puddle of pink landed on the center of the dining table — she then believed me.  Of course, she still sent me to my room to contemplate my taste buds and her tarnished white table-cloth.

My grandmother prepared pickled beets the old fashioned way.  This means, boiling them to make them soft and then putting them in vinegar.  Yuck.  Another reason for me to run screaming from beets.

It wasn’t until my time in San Francisco that I learned some ways to prepare beets that was palatable.  The first way was a beet-tahini dressing/sauce that a friend of mine made to dress some sauteed greens.  I thought — no way — NO WAY…but much to my surprise, I loved it.  And, my love for red beets (and golden beets!) was sparked (I didn’t even mind the scary pink poo the next day, either).

I mean, look at’em!  They are gorgeous.  When you cut your beets (whether red or golden), take a moment to look at the webbing of colors and hues on the inside…amazing, right?

Some nutritional side notes about our friend beet (info from Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions”):

– a great source of high-quality fiber
– developed by German gardeners in the Middle Ages
– long valued as a blood tonic
– rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, as well as carotene, B complex and Vit C
– provides you with a daily supplement of balanced vitamins and minerals
– aids in detoxifying the body
– the beet root and greens contain special substances that protect the liver and stimulate the flow of bile
– beet greens contain the same nutrients — the greens have an added bonus of having a very high carotenoid content
– buy your beets whole — roots and greens!

The recipe for the tahini dressing/sauce is fairly simple…

Red Beet/Tahini Dressing for Sauteed Greens

1 – Simmer 1 red beet for about 40 minutes or until soft (easy to poke with fork)
2 – Strain out water, wait to cool, and cut into chunks
3 – Put beet, 1/2 cup of tahini, pinch of salt, small chunk of ginger and a small clove of garlic in the blander and blend until smooth
4 – Pour this over your sauteed greens

Next, I will talk about beet kvass — my next positive experience with beets.  Beet kvass is a fermented beet drink that encourages digestive juices and provides an easy way to absorb and assimilate all the wonderful nutrients of the beet itself.  Beet kvass is a Eastern European house-hold item.

Annelies Schoneck in her book, “Des Crudites Toute L’Annee” says  that a drink like beet kvass is great for cancer patients (or for preventative health) because it provides needed enzymes and digestive juices, and promotes healthy gut flora which most cancer patients lack.  This drink also has a favorable affect on disturbed cellular function.

Beet Kvass (from Sally Fallon’s book, “Nourishing Traditions”)

3 medium or 2 large red or golden organic beets (peeled and chopped coarsely)
1/4 cup whey
1 Tablespoon sea salt
filtered water

Place beets, whey and salt into a 2-quart glass container (1/2 gallon).   Add filtered water to fill the container.  Stir well and cover securely.  Keep at room temperature for 2 days before transferring to the fridge (3 days if you have it in a colder room).  It is ready to drink (I definitely prefer it chilled).

When you are almost out of beet kvass, fill the jar with water again — keep at room temperature for 2 more days and then put in fridge again.  This second batch is way less potent, but still some good stuff in there.  You can also use the liquid from the first batch as the inoculant for future batches instead of whey.

Another great recipe, I picked up and adapted while working at the Southern Dharma Retreat Center in NC.  My dear friend Donna showed me the ropes:

Maple Spiced Beets

3 peeled, softened red beets (cut them into 1/4″ chunks after they cool)
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup salt-soaked and dried walnuts, chopped (or, just use plain walnuts if you are not in the rhythm of soaking and drying your nuts)
2 Tablespoons olive oil or walnut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Take red beet chunks and place them in a bowl.  In a separate bowl mix all other ingredients.  Taste and play around with the spices a bit.  I always do this recipe by heart, so I’m not 100% sure on proportions.  Play!  Mix together and enjoy warm or chilled.

Chilled Red Raspberry Red Beet Soup!

While visiting my Aunt and her partner in Baltimore, we went to a downtown restaurant that was serving Red Beet Raspberry soup.  So divine.  Since then, I have made it twice — once on the fly and once using this recipe.  I suggest the recipe if you are not ready to wing it.  It was intensely refreshing.

My last suggestion is red beet powder.  Just toss it on into your smoothies.  I make a wild smoothie with kale, tahini, yoghurt, water, maple syrup, cacao, coconut shreds, banana, red beet powder, lil sea salt…you get the picture — just mix it all in there and enjoy!

8 thoughts on “Just Beet It

  1. Hi Lindsay:

    I have had a very similar relationship with beets all my life. Can’t figure out why-I can eat all sorts of other things. A borscht prepared by an old WWII refugee-immigrant from Poland to Canada began to change my distaste for beets. Do you have a good borscht recipe? Also, FYI-one of our Wwoofers lives with a guy partner in Manitoba whose family is all from Ukraine. Hope your birthday was memorable. I had a good view of a hughe orange moon on May 5. Could see the ridges with binoculars.

    • You know — I don’t have a borscht recipe! However, I do love a good borscht. They also make a ‘zelonii borscht’ in ukraine — spring borscht which is very good. I’ll look into it.

    • Oh brilliant! I made that recipe for mom and John while in the area in the Winter… It’s a good one 😉 You can toss some flax seed oil into the sauce to balance the Omega fats a bit more in the Tahini too…was just reading about that last night… All is good — CSA humming along (Phillip) and the Seasonal Intelligence course feels really good — the one I am hosting on-line (Lindsay)… Good to hear from you!

  2. Thanks Lindsay – I loved the Maple Spiced! Yes I agree beets are so beautiful and don’t have to be boring boiled. I have a recipe for you – “Happy Beets” I will send.

  3. Pingback: Seasonal Soiree Past Menus | Madhupa Maypop

  4. Pingback: I’m often asked, “what do you eat?” | Sweet Gum Springs Apothecary

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