Sadly, I think beetroot has become one of our forgotten vegetables. First cultivated in Roman times, this deliciously sweet crimson ball of loveliness, when cooked correctly is scrumptiously sweet, full of healthy properties and is so versatile it can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes.
Jamie Oliver explained, “When most people think about beetroot, they think of big vinegary crinkle-cut chunks from a jar and immediately say no! But remember, beetroots are only vinegary when they’re pickled. When simply boiled or roasted they are juicy and sweet as you like. Raw beetroot is amazing in salads, giving you a deep, earthy, mineral flavour, lots of crunch and, of course, incredible colours”.And he is so right, the beetroot in a jar is the type we all remember growing up, and it wasn’t very pleasant.
But, fresh beetroot, the delicious stuff I am talking about today, is delicious but has became no longer fashionable and people just don’t know what to do with it.
Whether you make cake with it, roast it, add it to salads, blend it into a soup or drink it as juice like the athletes do – you can’t get away from the fact that fresh beetroot is full of vitamins and minerals and crammed with powerful antioxidants – this is a super food giant and we need to make it fashionable once again.
There are so many lovely things you can do with beetroot and we will discuss them a little later, but first let’s take a look at a few of the health benefits it has.
Its high in antioxidants
Betacyanin, the pigment that gives beetroot that amazing colour is an antioxidant and is believed to reduce the oxidisation of LDL cholesterol, and therefore reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
It reduces blood pressure
Research has shown that beetroot can hel p reduce blood pressure a well as its associated risks such as heart attacks and strokes. This is because the high content of nitrates in beetroot produce a gas called nitric oxide in the blood which widens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. A daily dose of 250ml of beetroot juice or 1 to 2 cooked beetroot (approx. 100g) can help dramatically reduce blood pressure and its associated risks.
Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
Beetroot contains the mineral silica. This helps the body to utilise calcium, which is important for musculoskeletal health and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
It’s an aphrodisiac
One of the earliest known benefits of beetroot is its use as an aphrodisiac during the Roman times. And it wasn’t all myth, as it has been found to contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.
It slows the progression of dementia
The high content of nitrates in beetroot may also help fight the progression of dementia. A recent study by Wake Forest University in North Carolina, USA has shown that the high content of nitrates in beetroot may also help fight the progression of dementia, as nitric oxide in the blood (produced by the nitrates in beetroot) also helps increase blood flow to the brain. Beetroot’s folic acid may also play a part as studies suggest it can help protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia.
So, on top of it being so wonderfully nutritious……..what can we make with it?
Surprisingly, it is gorgeous in cakes, showing off that indulgent rich crimson colour. Try beetroot cupcakes, beetroot and chocolate brownies, beetroot and chocolate cake, there are so many recipes out there for beetroot based cakes, but the above suggestions are all linked to recipes I have tested and like!
Using Beetroot in savoury dishes, is much more acknowledged. To cook it, either pop the raw beetroot in a large saucepan and boil until you can push a sharp knife all the way through or, my favourite way of cooking is to peel it, cut it into chunks, pop it on a baking tray, season and drizzle with oil and bake in the oven at 180 degree celsius for about half an hour, this really intensifies the flavours……..it really is sweet and yummy!!
Roasted or boiled beetroot is fantastic in salads (really good with halloumi cheese), soups and sandwiches and it is also great in savoury rice and couscous recipes, I have even served roast beetroot with a Sunday lunch, you should try it, it does work.
So, try and incorporate a few portions of beetroot into your weekly diet, it’s good for you and so delicious!!
If you need any more recipe suggestions, please drop me a line.