When it comes to health benefits…beets can’t be beat!

When it comes to health benefits…beets can’t be beat!

Beets are one of those vegetables that may not have the prestige and popularity of green beans or even potatoes but these purple root vegetables should not be underestimated. Packing so much nutritional value as well as some ancillary benefits that are sure to boost your life in a number of ways, beets deserve a spot right next to sweet potatoes and avocados on the list of today’s popular “superfoods.”  From lowering blood pressure to boosting your mood, beets are one of those vegetables that, if you haven’t incorporated them into your diet, it might be a good idea to find a place for them at your dinner table. Here are just a few of the nutritional benefits and some other advantages of eating beets.

  1. According to the website, lovebeets.com, beets are good for the mind, body, and spirit. Because beets contain betaine, a substance that relaxes the mind and is used to treat depression, eating beets can elevate your mood. Along with that substance, the vegetable also contains tryptophan, which is also found in chocolate and contributes to an overall sense of well being.
  2. Ancient Romans believed the beet to be an aphrodisiac. And they may have been on to something. Beets contain high levels of boron which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.
  3. Beets can be made into a wine that tastes similar to port.
  4. Beets are a traditional food eaten at Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
  5. In 1975 it was giant step for beets when, during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, cosmonauts from the USSR’s Soyuz 19 welcomed the Apollo 18 astronauts by preparing a banquet of borscht (beet soup) in zero gravity.
  6. Beets enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame when Dwight Schrute, a character from the hit television show The Office declared himself a devoted beet farmer, often referencing the sweet root vegetable in different episodes of the show.
  7. Little flakes of dandruff on your shoulders? Try boiling beets in water and then massaging the cooled down water into your scalp each night; it is believed to be an effective cure for dandruff.
  8. Move over tulips. According to theredrushblog.com, the biggest beet in the world weighed over 156 pounds and was grown by a Dutchman.
  9. Beet juice has been used on city streets to remove the ice because it doesn’t damage cars like sand or salt.
  10. Pickled beets on hamburgers in Australia are as integral as tomatoes on a hamburger here in the US.
  11.  Beets are often called nature’s candy
  12. According to legend, if a man and woman eat from the same beetroot, they will fall in love.
  13. You can use beet juice as hair dye, though it will wash out rather quickly.

There’s no denying that there are plenty of nutritional and other advantages to eating beets. This week, Colchester Neighborhood Farm is packing this root vegetable into its CSA shares. Stop by the farm and pick up a few organically grown, freshly harvested beets…it could be just the pick me up you are looking for. Tell us your favorite recipe for cooking up beets.

Fresh from the farm is an experience

Fresh from the farm is an experience

Buying fresh fruits and vegetables from a local farm stand not only demonstrates healthy eating habits to children, it can teach them the value of supporting local agriculture. If we’re lucky, the trip to the farm can result in a few cherished memories. There is no denying that tomatoes or lettuce picked the same day  taste better than the produce purchased from the grocery store. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of harvesting food from a backyard garden rather than a refrigerator, you will agree that the “chore” itself could be as fun as the food was tasty. I remember picking vegetables with my grandfather; he taught me how to choose the ripest and sweetest tomatoes and how to determine when peppers were ready to be picked. Even sweeter than those tomatoes are the memories of the experience that I still carry with me today.

 

By today’s standards, however, we are not always as diligent about taking time to smell the roses…or as the case may be, the basil. In our rush to complete all of our errands, making a special trip to a local farm, exclusively for the purpose of buying cucumbers and tomatoes, can seem like an added chore and one that could easily be eliminated, if we just purchased our produce at the local grocery store, along with all of the other items on our list. But sometimes, these everyday chores are the same ones that create an experience and in the process, a lasting memory, for children and parents, alike. If we eliminate these so-called chores, we may be denying ourselves and our children the pleasure of true, quality time spent together.

 

When you buy your fruits and vegetables from Colchester Neighborhood Farm, consider blocking out an extra 15 minutes or 30 minutes for the “chore” because it could easily turn into a fun and wonderful experience. Colchester Neighborhood Farm is a social enterprise in every sense of the word. Employing adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities who are more than happy to wait on their customers at the farm stand, they are also eager to show off their farm, which includes chickens, a friendly donkey named Dapple, and some goats and their babies…yes the kids love the kids! A visit to Colchester Neighborhood Farm is more than just buying fresh fruits and vegetables, it is an opportunity for our children to learn about agriculture, to see how their food is grown and where it comes from. And going home with a few good memories along with some fresh tomatoes, organically grown cucumbers, and a bouquet of fresh flowers isn’t bad either.

Roasted Potato Leek Salad with Herbs

Recipe Courtesy Susannah Locketti

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs organic potatoes any type
  • 1 cup flavored oil such as basil or garlic (feel free to adjust based on dietary needs of program)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 leeks trimmed and sliced into thick rounds (FYI-use leeks the same way you would use onions)
  • ¼ cup minced fresh herbs

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Rinse potatoes and cut into medium size cubes.
  • Place in a large bowl along with the leeks.
  • Add ½ the oil, and ½ the herbs to the bowl along with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.
  • Pour out onto a large cookie sheet (or two) lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • Roast for an hour until browned and softened tossing midway through.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit. Drizzle the remaining oil and herbs over the potatoes and place in a nice serving bowl. Enjoy! This recipe can be served hot, cold or at room temperature. Great for a cookout because it is not made with mayonnaise and you don’t have to worry about it spoiling.

Meal Planning Notes:
Feel free to roast leftover veggies you have in the fridge with the potatoes such as red or green peppers, onions, squash from the farm etc. The recipe will still come out great!! This recipe is just a starting point for your meal planners to get ideas and learn how to roast vegetables. Just make sure all the vegetables you are roasting are the SAME SIZE so they cook at the same time.
Make sure you don’t cook too many potatoes on the same cookie sheet. They need room to breathe. If there are too many they will steam instead of brown up. To solve the problem, use two cookie sheets on separate racks in the oven.

Nutritional Notes:
Leeks are a great natural cleanser. Good source of fiber, B6, folate and iron.
Potatoes are gluten free, great source of fiber, low in fat, and a good source of potassium and manganese.

Easy Glazed Carrots

Courtesy of Susannah Locketti

Ingredients:

  • 1lb. carrots sliced into coins
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 2 TB brown sugar
  • Dash cinnamon
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Method:
Boil carrot coins in salted water until fork tender. (about 5-10 minutes depending on thickness of the coins) Drain the carrots when soft.
Heat a skillet over medium/high heat and add the oil and drained carrots. Toss to coat.
Add the brown sugar and spices, stir frequently and allow the sugar to melt and caramelize the carrots.
Serve warm!

**Feel free to double or triple this recipe based on how many people you are feeding.

Recipe: Rainbow Crunch Carrot Salad

I’m generally pretty good about resisting impulse purchases at the grocery store , but I just couldn’t get past these Rainbow Crunch Carrots… walked past them a few times, picked them up, put them down a few times,  yes? no?  not organic, not local,  …ah, it’s  winter…, a cold raw, dark winter day… they wound up in the cart… maybe no longer can be considered an impulse?
Anyway, they were beautifully colorful and some were sweet, some not.  There is a recipe on the back which actually is good served hot or cold, and works too as a base to throw other things in like  some dark leafy greens.  Since we prefer our vegetables al dente, I suggest lightly steaming rather than boiling the carrots.  Enjoy!

Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes, also known as Sun-chokes, are tubers of a type of sunflower, rather than artichokes, as the name suggests.  They aren’t from Jerusalem; they are native to North America.  They were first cultivated by the Native Americans long before the arrival of the Europeans; this extensive cultivation makes the exact native range of the species obscure.  The French explorer Samuel de Champlain found them being grown at Cape Cod in 1605.  The Jerusalem artichoke was titled ‘best soup vegetable’ in the 2002 Nice festival for the heritage of the French cuisine.  (from Wikipedia) 

Scrub them and don’t peel them, because the nutrients are just below the surface of the skin.  Jerusalem Artichokes are similar in nutrition and use to potatoes.  They have 650 mg. of potassium per 1 cup (150g) serving.  They are also high in iron, and contain 10-12% of the US RDA of fiber, niacin, thiamine, phosphorus and copper.  Use them in all of the same ways you use potatoes  They are good sliced thin in a stir-fry… you can also mash, boil, bake, gratin, roast, etc…  You can use them raw in a salad but put some lemon or vinegar over them because they oxidize quickly.  They pair particularly well with potatoes. 

A favorite way to prepare them is sliced, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then roast them in a 400ºF oven for 45 minutes until they are golden brown.  They are surprisingly sweet and kind of nutty-tasting. 

Try these recipes from the “Spirit of the Harvest, North American Indian Cooking” shared by CNF member Cherie C. 

Cherokee Spiced Jerusalem Artichokes
1 lb Jerusalem artichokes
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1/4 tsp dill seed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Salt, to taste (optional)
Salad greens, for serving 

Scrub Jerusalem artichokes and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Blanch slices in boiling water for 1 minute.  Drain and reserve cooking liquid.

Place remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Pour over slicedJerusalemartichokes and marinate for several hours, refrigerated.  Serve as a condiment or as a salad on a bed of greens.
Serves 6

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
2 lbs Jerusalem artichokes
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
Salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Scrub Jerusalem artichokes and cook in simmering water for 30-40 minutes, until tender.  Drain and discard cooking liquid.  Peel and mash artichokes and place in a large saucepan.  Stir in chicken broth and green onions.

Simmer for about 15 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve sprinkled with dill.
Serves 4-6

Broiled Jerusalem Artichokes
1 1/2 lbs Jerusalem artichokes
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or other melted fat
Salt (optional) 

Wash artichokes and scrub well with a vegetable brush.  Rub with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Broil about 6 inches from the heat for 20-30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.  Serve with meat or fish as a substitute for potatoes.
Serves 6