Saturday, August 10, 2013

Beet Profile

                                                                                                                       We planted plenty of beets early this year, hoping to get a bumper crop and pickle them, but they're growing very slowly and I was starting to worry that they wouldn't be viable even if they eventually make it to a good size. So I found the 6 or 7 biggest ones I could and roasted them with some of our homegrown shallots, and they were just fine, not fibrous or stringy at all. It gives me some hope for the rest of our crop. 
In terms of nutrition, beets are obviously full of colorful antioxidants. The main group of phytonutrients they contain is betalains, which include a number of compounds with the usual good rap sheet: anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties, as well as detoxifying effects in cells. On top of that, beets are apparently related to both quinoa and spinach but not much else*, and the antioxidants and even the type of pectin (soluble fiber) in whole beets seem to be in a different class of beneficial chemicals than those of other vegetables, which is promising for researchers.

Me, I just think they're beautiful and delicious. As a side dish, they're a perfect pairing with beans -- which we eat often -- and are also heavenly when they're pickled and put on salads. 

*Beets and chard are the same species, by the way, just varieties that over the years of cultivation emphasized roots or leaves as the case may be. So I'm not even counting that as 'related', in case someone's getting picky about my classifications.

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