13 Nov Beetroot – food in focus
Beetroot belongs to the Chinopodiaceae family , which also includes spinach and chard.
Both the root and the leaves of beetroot can be eaten. The leaves can be prepared in a similar way to chard, and taste a little bitter.
The roots can be round, or long and the colours can be the recognisable deep crimson, or golden yellow, and white. There are also Chioggia beetroots, which when cut in half have beautiful concentric rings of crimson and white, or gold and white that look vibrant when finely sliced.
Growing & Storing
Beetroot can be grown from seed. Make a 2cm deep trench – run a cane along to make the trench, drop in 2 seeds every 10cm. Cover with soil and water well. Once seedling appear and measure about 2cm in height, remove the weaker of the pair. You can succession sow; sow seeds every month, with rows 20cm apart.
They like a sunny spot and can also be grown in raised beds or pots. Keep on top of weeding.
You can start to pull them when they are the size of a golf ball up to a tennis ball size, roughly 90 days after sowing.
When storing beetroot, keep them in the fridge. Use the greens as soon as possible, as they wilt quite quickly. If you wish to store the beetroot for longer, then cut the greens off leaving about 2 inches of stem, and they should be fine for around 3 weeks in the fridge.
You can freeze cooked beetroot, but raw tends to go mushy.
The green leaves contain greater nutritional value than the roots. They are rich in minerals like calcium and iron, and vitamins A & C. The roots provide good sources of folic acid, manganese, potassium and fibre. Plus the whole plant is rich in magnesium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B6.
Let’s look at some of the health benefits they offer.
Beetroots are one of the go to veg I recommend to support liver detoxification. The fibre supports healthy bowel function, and the deep crimson colour is the result of pigment betacyanin, which contains anti-cancer properties. Together with the fibre content, it seems beetroot can help protect against colon cancer.
Furthermore the naturally occurring nitrates in beetroots have been shown to be supportive in heart health by lowering blood pressure, and reducing inflammation.
If you have eaten beetroot, you may have found your urine has turned bright pink, or your stool has turned red. Don’t be alarmed, this is harmless.
The greens, however, contain oxalates, which can be problematic for people with a history of kidney stones. They are best avoided or eaten rarely.
Tips for Using
Wash under cool running water. Soak in a mild additive free soap if not organically grown – or fill the bowl with water and add 6 drops of doTERRA essential oil to clean your veggies.
Lightly steam or stir fry the beet greens to conserve the active compounds.
Boil the roots before peeling, leaving an inch of stem, which makes it easier when handling. Do be careful as the juice can easily stain your skin, equipment and even unit top. You can clean your hands with a little lemon juice.
Beetroot is also lovely roasted – you can roast whole and peel after, or peel, cut into chunks and roast drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with spices.
Beetroot works well with apple, feta, watercress, pepper & olive oil, carrots, chocolate and puy lentils, smoked trout, fennel,
Ideas for dishes
Grate the root and add to salads. I grate beetroot, carrot and courgette together – the colours are divine.
Blend 1 roasted beetroot with a pot of organic hummus and handful of fresh dill. The flavours are spectacular.
Add beet greens to a salad or stir fry.
Mix pureed beetroot and stewed apple with cinnamon & nutmeg for a tasty snack or desert.
Soup – best known is Borscht.
Juice the beetroot and drink. Not too much in one go as it may upset the stomach. See Beetroot & kale at www.eaternalhealth.co.uk
Chocolate and beetroot go nicely together – see my cake recipe at www.eaternalhealth.co.uk
Roast beetroot with other veggies cut to the same size and served with Puy lentils and feta cheese, or add roasted beetroot to a goat’s cheese salad.
Also good as a pickle or fermented.
Szaefer H, Krajka-Kuźniak V, Ignatowicz E, Adamska T, Baer-Dubowska W. Evaluation of the effect of beetroot juice on DMBA-induced damage in liver and mammary gland of female Sprague-Dawley rats. Phytother Res. 2014 Jan;28(1):55-61. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4951. Epub 2013 Mar 1. PMID: 23450834.
Krajka-Kuźniak V, Szaefer H, Ignatowicz E, Adamska T, Baer-Dubowska W. Beetroot juice protects against N-nitrosodiethylamine-induced liver injury in rats. Food Chem Toxicol. 2012 Jun;50(6):2027-33. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2012.03.062. Epub 2012 Mar 24. PMID: 22465004.
Bhaswant M, Brown L, McAinch AJ, Mathai ML. Beetroot and Sodium Nitrate Ameliorate Cardiometabolic Changes in Diet-Induced Obese Hypertensive Rats. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017 Dec;61(12). doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201700478. Epub 2017 Nov 14. PMID: 28952199.