With its sweet, earthy flavour and deep purple colour, I have always been strongly attracted to beets. In my childhood, my favourite salad ingredient was my Dad’s home grown beetroot, freshly pulled from the garden.
But little did I know as a child how good they were for my health. I only recently discovered that beets are actually a super food. Well I never! Here’s what I’ve learned…
1. Beets are packed with vitamins and minerals
They contain a huge array of nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamins A, B & C, beta-carotene, beta-cyanine and folic acid.
2. Beets are rich in antioxidants which help to protect against disease
Beets are a very good source of antioxidants vitamin C and manganese. They also contain a powerful group of antioxidants called betalains, which can help in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and inflammation. (It’s the betalains that give beets their deep red colour). The nitrates contained in beets can also help to lower blood pressure.
3. Beets cleanse the body
Beets are a great detoxifier, tonic for the liver and blood purifier.
4. Beets help your mental health
Beets, like chocolate, contain trytophan, a substance which is known to relax the mind and create a sense of well-being. The betalains contained in beets have also been used in certain treatments of depression.
5. Beets boost our brain power
Beetroot contains high concentrations of nitrates, which are converted in the body into nitric oxide. This helps open blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen. Nitrites also increase blood flow to the brain, which may help to prevent dementia.
6. Beets are energy boosters
Beets are a great source of complex carbs and slow-release energy. The natural nitrates found in beets also help to increase our oxygen intake and energy levels.
7. Beets enhance our physical performance
Studies have shown that the nitrates in beets can enhance physical endurance. In one study, cyclists who drank 500 ml of beetroot juice were able to ride up to 20% longer.
8. Beets are great for weight management
Beets are high in complex carbs and fibre, but low in calories, which makes them the perfect food for weight management.
And finally, did you know that…
9. Beets are Nature’s Viagra!
The Romans used beets medicinally as an aphrodisiac, and science has proven that beets are indeed a natural Viagra. Their nitrate content increases blood flow in all areas of the body. Beets also contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.
If you wish to know more, there’s a clip of Dr Oz talking about the health benefits of beets (including number 9!) here.
Getting in the Mood for Love with …
Sweet Beet Soup!
With its deep red colour and wonderful mood enhancing properties, I reckon beetroot would make a wonderful addition to any romantic meal that you might have planned for your loved ones this evening
On tonight’s menu for us, is a starter of Sweet Beet Soup. Until recently, I’d only ever eaten beetroot in salad but, inspired by Candy’s beautiful blog post called ‘Simple Pleasures’ I was inspired to try my hand at making a beet soup.
Candy kindly allowed me to share her beet soup photos. Aren’t they stunning?
And perfect for Valentines!
You must check out Candy’s post. It is such a beautiful read!
For my beet soup, I chose to add sweet potato (which I’ve been adding to a lot of my soup recipes lately). As well as adding sweetness and additional nutrients, I find it gives soups a wonderful, silky texture (without the need to add cream or milk).
Furthermore, with the addition of the potato, I find that a bowl of soup is filling on its own, without the need to add a side dish of bread.
For protein, additional flavour, textures and nutrients, I add a sprinkling of shelled hempseeds, lightly toasted pumpkin seeds and dried dill.
Here’s how I make it…
Sweet Beet Soup
Hands on time: 5-10 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes
1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3-4 medium beetroot, peeled and chopped (I use a potato peeler and wear kitchen gloves to avoid getting purple hands!)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 litre / 34fl oz / 4 cups vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Lightly toasted pumpkin seeds (I like to lightly toast them in a frying pan with a little extra virgin olive oil)
- Gently heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion until it starts to soften. Add the garlic, beetroot and sweet potato. Cover with a lid and sweat on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the beetroot is soft. Allow to cool slightly, then blend smooth. Add salt and pepper, if desired.
- Serve in warm bowls with a sprinkling of seeds and dill.
[This recipe has been submitted to Ricki Heller's #Wellness Weekend]
So I’ve got the starter and dessert sorted for tonight’s meal, just got to decide on the main course now!
Are you a fan of Beets? What’s your favourite way of serving them?
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day everyone xx
p.s. It’s the last day to enter my Valentine’s Raw Chocolate Giveaway (ends midnight GMT tonight). I’ve been overwhelmed by all the beautiful comments I’ve received on this giveaway. Thank you so much guys! You really have made my week! Since there have been so many entries, I’ve decided to make another batch of chocolates, and I’ll select 3 winners in total. I’ll post details of the winners on FB and Twitter tomorrow, and also email directly.
Good luck everyone xx