When I was a young child I thought a vegetarian was someone who ate a lot of vegetables. I once informed my best friend’s mom that I was a vegetarian. I was baffled, not to mention disappointed, when she announced that she could no longer feed me hot dogs because I was a vegetarian. I was not, in fact, a vegetarian, but we did eat a lot of vegetables in my household. As much as I loved my veggies, there were two things I absolutely hated: spinach and beets.
Funny how tastes change with time. Now I love spinach. Whether it’s a salad or a smoothie, rarely a day goes by without my dose of Popeye power! I still don’t care much for cooked beets, but I am starting to take a liking to this vivid vegetable in its raw form.
When we started getting our weekly box of local, fresh, organic produce, I suddenly found myself asking, what the heck do I do with all these beets? I don’t even like beets. I do, However, appreciate the health benefits packed into this colorful root veggie. Beets are high in antioxidants, but not just any old antioxidant. Beets contain phytonutrients like betalain which are not only responsible for that amazing color, but also for the unique combination of antioxidant support that sets these rubies apart from other antioxidant-rich vegetables. They also contain vitamin C, manganese, folate, potassium, iron and other good-for-you minerals and nutrients.
O.K., let’s juice them. This antioxidant gem adds a nice bit of sweet to a glass of mixed greens. Although, a little bit of beet goes a long way in a jar of freshly juiced produce.
We are drowning in beets right now. So, now what? A few days ago I tried a new recipe, using up one beet in a sweet sunny salad with miso-citrus dressing. It was delicious, but hardly made a dent in the beet pile. Looking through my most recent favorite vegan cookbook (Crazy Sexy Kitchen), I found a recipe for a raw Beetroot Ravioli with Cashew Cream Cheese. It looked so pretty I decided to give it a try.
First task, scrub, peel, slice and marinade the raw beets. It was the kind of night for shortcuts so I just squeezed one lemon, poured in some olive oil and sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper-just skipped the measuring altogether. This bowl of beets was surprisingly beautiful. Because of my affinity for interesting patterns and vibrant colors found in nature, these beet slices had me mesmerized for quite some time!
While the beets were marinating, I created a cream cheese filling of my own. I love cashew creams of any sort, but I didn’t have time for the required preparations for this recipe. I recently discovered some vegan cream cheese at the grocery store. Not an easy find in our small town, so I immediately snatched it up and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to use it. So, I chopped up some fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme and chives) and garlic, added a little lemon juice and voila! A flavor-filled substitute for the cashew cream cheese in a fraction of the prep time.
After assembling these artful appetizers, I suddenly realized I needed a main course to accompany them.
Fortunately, we had a fridge full of fresh produce and a box of gluten-free pasta. Pasta salad it is. I simply put the pasta on the stove, chopped up some organic spring onions, asparagus, carrots and kale and whipped up a balsamic-olive oil concoction in the Vitamix. Have I mentioned how much we love the new blender? It’s a whirring wonder and it has definitely added a fun new spin to our kitchen life! I must say, these two dishes made a very tasty, and quite attractive pair.
Wow! What a satisfying little bit of solace in this busy day. I certainly did not expect to end my day enjoying such a beautiful raw beet creation. I find myself cultivating a new appreciation for this once-hated vegetable. I have learned that beets have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They are great for detoxification, blood pressure and circulation. They are a great source of many vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They even contain tryptophan, making for a feel-good meal, indeed.
Can’t beet that! Enjoy your day :)