Hello Winter! Of course in the Northern California Bay Area, I'm not sure we can call our winter as such because we still get doused with ample sunshine almost daily! This mid-December blog is inspired by Aarika Chilson, master mistress of beets, who run a website (www.justbeetit.com) devoted solely to beets! Yes, there's that much about beets worth knowing, and more importantly, worth eating (on a regular basis, I might add). Why? Because the beet is one of our most powerful superfoods, super charged to support your energy as a potent blood cleanser and blood builder. In this blog I'll share more juicy details on what makes the beet excellent for your health, my 3 favorite ways to incorporate beets into your daily diet, and a few of my favorite recipes including my Beet Red Red Velvet Cupcakes (recipe tested 5 times to get all the components almost just right). With Winter Solstice and the Holidaze upon us, it is actually a great time to cleanse moderately, colder climate style; eating beets is an easy way to support moderate cleansing. So let's celebrate the beet, friends, as we move swiftly towards the end of the year (how did that happen so fast?!)
The Juicy Details of the Beet
The beetroot and the beet greens are our superfood friends, each so tasty and nourishing. The basic blessings of the beet are many: 1) they lower your blood pressure (calm and collected under pressure, I'll take an extra dose of that please!!!), 2) they boost your stamina, including sexual stamina...(who else wants more great energy during the holiday and winter season?), 3) they are anti-inflammatory (stress, sugar, alcohol, are just a few common inflammatory components, anyone had any of these 3 recently?) 4) they have anti-cancer benefits (what's better than eating foods that support our longterm health?) 5) they are rich in nutrients like vitamin C and rich in fiber (this means good for keeping away seasonal colds and stomach issues too!); and 6) they are detoxifying for your blood (anyone living in modern life?), all that in a tasty beet! For full juicy beet details go here: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/01/25/beets-health-benefits.aspx
3 Easy Ways to Incorporate Beets and Beet Greens into Your Daily Diet:
Roast -Roast the beetroot and eat as you wish in salads, soups or solo. To roast, simply scrub the skin with a vegetable brush, poke several times with a fork, wrap in parchment paper and then aluminum foil, and then roast at 350-375F until done 60-90 minutes (depends on the size of the beet). Unwrap the foil and parchment covering and allow to cool enough before removing the skin (this can be done with your hands, a peeler or a paring knife). Then dice or slice or pureé as desired. (Alternately, if you have a pressure cooker or an Instapot, need I say more...)
Raw-add raw beet to your favorite smoothie recipe or grate into a salad, or saurkraut mix. To use raw, scrub and peel the beet skin (a peeler works best for this) and then use as you wish.
Sauteé -Beet greens! Simply wash your beet greens well as they do get gritty with soil (a little organic soil in your veggies is actually good for you, but can be an alarming mouth feel, and hard on your teeth!) Sauteé with a little garlic, olive oil, sea salt, and squeeze of lemon. They cook down in minutes so be careful not to over cook. If you have baby beet greens these can be added raw to salads.
3 Favorite Beet Recipes
Beet Pomegranate Winter Smoothie (pictured above) I LOVE this combo! The fresh pomegranate juice and raw beet, plus frozen raspberries and raw cacao powder and fresh ginger make this smoothie a powerful antioxidant-rich nutrient-dense combo that adds a boost to your morning. Adjust ingredient details as needed to suit your taste and dietary needs.
1 cup fresh pomegranate juice (or store-bought like POM wonderful) -to make fresh pomegranate juice use a juicer or a blender and a fine mesh nut milk bag. For the blender method, add 1.5 cups of fresh pomegranate seeds to the blender and a splash of filtered water. Blitz seeds on high speed for 15 seconds. Pour juice through a fine mesh bag (or a fine strainer) to retain seeds.
1/3 medium sized raw beet (peeled and chopped) approximately 1/3-1/2 cup
1 banana (fresh or frozen)
1 cup spinach or kale (if kale is too bitter it will flavor the end result)
1/2 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup plant milk (almond or coconut are my favorite)
1-2 tablespoons cacao powder (as much as cacao flavor is desired)
1-2 tablespoons protein powder (optional)
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger root (optional)
1 tablespoon almond butter (optional)
Procedure: Blend it up in a high speed blender and enjoy!
Earthy Beet, Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Thai Soup (this is one of my favorite stumbled-upon recipes, I made it up in the moment and it is so delicious, not to mention beautiful and super healthy!)
2 cups roasted beet
1 carrot -diced
2 stalks celery -diced
2 cups sweet potato -diced
2 cup cooked red lentil
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic -smashed
2 inch piece of ginger (peeled and sliced)
2 inch piece of galanga root (peeled and sliced)
1 inch piece of turmeric root (peeled and sliced)
5-7 fresh kaffir leaves
1 Thai chili pepper (use the seeds too if you want a spicy soup!)
5-7 cups magic mineral broth (water or any veggie broth will do just fine too)
1.5-2 cups coconut milk
4-6 tablespoons miso (white, light red or brown miso, each will flavor with slight variation)
sea salt to taste
2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (key limes are always my favorite for best flavor)
1/2 cup coconut cream (thick part from top of the can)
fresh lime zest
fresh cilantro -coarsely chopped
Procedure: Depending on the time you can or want to invest in this soup, start by making Healing Mineral Broth or have your broth of choice ready to go (broth will provide a more magic flavor base than water). Next roast your beets on 375F for approximately 40 minutes while you are prepping other ingredients. To cook the red lentils, rinse 1 cup of red lentils, place in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer on a low boil for 15-20 minutes, they don't take long to cook and they do not need to be pre-soaked. Allow lentils to cool, drain off excess water (a strainer works great here) and set aside. In medium-sized stock pot, melt coconut oil and sauté onions with a pinch of sea salt 3-5 minutes, add garlic, ginger, galanga, turmeric, kaffir leaves, and chili pepper and another pinch of sea salt for another minute. Be careful not to over cook and enjoy the heavenly aroma of these aromatic spices. Add celery and carrots and a pinch of sea salt, sauté another few minutes until veggies soften. Add sweet potatoes and and another bit of sea salt and sauté a few more minutes. Add roasted beets, red lentils, broth and coconut milk. Bring soup to a low boil for 10-15 minutes (until all veggies are soft, don't over cook). Turn off heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Add in some of the miso and lime juice to taste. Blend in batches. Adjust flavor as needed with more miso and lime juice. For the coconut lime creme grate zest of 1-2 key limes into coconut creme and add sea salt to taste. To serve, add soup to bowls and drizzle with coconut lime creme and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!
Beet Red Red Velvet Cupcakes (that's not a typo, that's double RED on purpose!)
A word on these babies before we dive into the recipe. Earlier this Fall, a client hired me to do a cupcake table for his 60th birthday party. In dreaming up the kind of cupcakes I wanted to serve, I became fixated on Red Velvet... such a stunning visual and when done right, taste amazing. I scoured blogs and recipes to learn as much as I could about how to make them as healthily as possible and with real beets instead of red food dye -which is basically a chemical that is not good for us (and many children are allergic to it). Some recipes used roasted beets, some called for beet powder, some used raw, I tried all of them! I also tried gluten-free versions, to no avail, frankly because I was too lazy to make my own gluten-free flour mix (I'm sure this could be done well by gluten-free baking experts). I was concentrating mostly on the color (had to get that right), the texture (that's where the gluten-free flour failed), and the flavor (Red Velvet is really all in the flavor, the subtle combo of vanilla and a hint of chocolate). In addition, I refused to use refined white sugar in the cupcake or the frosting, anything not pure white in color adds another challenge to getting a red cupcake and a red, pink, or white frosting. So, we settled on spelt flour over a standard white flour or cake flour (as is often used in red velvet recipes) because it gives a really nice subtle flavor and does contain some gluten so helped achieve a better consistency ( the gluten-free flours, Bob's Gluten-Free 1:1 Baking flour and GF All-purpose flours, created a very sticky cupcake). We recipe tested these several times and overall, were very happy with the results, pulling tips and ideas from a number of sources. They taste great, aren't too sweet and the red color is not garish like red food coloring, rather it's natural and more visually pleasing (al least to my eye anyway)...If you try these, I hope you are happy with the results. For me, baking is a work in progress...
A word on the frosting too...it's a standard cream cheese frosting because Red Velvet with the Cream Cheese Frosting is such a delicious combo. The substitution is -I swapped out the standard confectioners sugar and used sucanat instead, and used 1/3 less the amount of sugar than a standard cream cheese frosting recipe because it's plenty sweet as is (we are supposed to enjoy them during and after right?) For the frosting consistency, to get it right you'll need to refine the sucanat by powdering it in a spice grinder (this works like a charm). I also added beet powder to the frosting to get that romantic rose color, a fun variation to a cream cheese frosting, if you leave the beet powder out, you'll have a light brown frosting that will taste good, but may nor be as visually appealing.
for the cupcakes:
1 pound red beets (3 medium sized beets, scrubbed and roasted)
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups spelt four, sifted
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 tablespoons cacao powder
1 cup sucanat sugar
3 large eggs, yolks and whites beaten separately
2/3 cup coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
for the frosting:
1 stick unsalted organic or grass fed butter
1 8oz package cream cheese, organic
1 cup sucanat, powdered in a nut and spice grinder, or small coffee grinder
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
3 tablespoons beet root powder
1 tablespoon beet purée -optional
for the cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350F, wash and wrap beets in parchment and aluminum foil and roast until tender 1-1 1/2 hours. While beets are roasting, line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and measure out all other ingredients, you can even make the frosting now if you like so it's ready to go. When beets are fork-tender, let beets cool, peel off skin, cut into chunks and purée in a high-speed blender along with the apple cider vinegar. Measure 1 1/4 cups of the beet purée for the batter.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cacao in a medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Set egg white aside in a separate bowl. Gently beat egg yolks. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, blend together sucanat, coconut oil and vanilla. Add in beet purée, and egg yolks, don't over mix. Add in flour mixture 1/3 at a time, folding by hand. With electric mixer, whip egg whites until light and fluffy, then gently fold egg whites into the batter. Do you best to incorporate the ingredients well without over mixing the batter.
5. Spoon batter into muffin liners, filling each about a 1/2 inch from the top of the liner. Bake approximately 25-30 minutes until done -the toothpick should come out almost clean, a few crumbs sticking to it is desirable. Let cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes then transfer cupcakes out of tray and allow to cool on rack completely before frosting.
for the frosting:
1. In medium sized mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add powdered sucanat and vanilla and mix until smooth consistency is achieved.
2. Add beet root powder and puréed beet and mix until desired color is achieved.
3. To frost cupcakes gently spoon and smooth frosting onto the cupcake using a spoon for a natural look or transfer frosting to a piping bag with a desired piping tip and pipe frosting. To do the romantic rose piping you'll need a piping tip like a Wilton 2D. Start the piping in the center of the cupcake and spiral outward to achieve that look. I recommend watching some Youtube piping videos, if your new to frosting; they are very helpful with best tips for how to fill piping bags, etc.
For storing the cupcakes they can stay safely in a sealed container on the counter (if the weather's not to hot) for a day, otherwise they should be refrigerated even though this will change their consistency.