BLOODY BEETROOTS: An Ode to the Versatile Tuber

The humble beetroot has many benefits – including increasing stamina more than short term exercise can! It is packed full of nutrients and is delicious in a variety of ways – both as a savory or sweet ingredient. Learn why beetroot is an ingredient to relish…or for that matter, roast, grate, ferment, fry, boil or bake.

Beetroot is the divisive tuber of the vegetable kingdom. It is a vegetable that people tend to  either love or hate. If you are already a fan of this king of wintry vegetables then read on and find vindication in a decision well made.

If, however you shun the handsome beetroot then please pay even closer attention. If you are still not convinced of the merit of giving beetroots another go, then at the very least you be all the wiser of how the other beetroot loving half think about their adored veg. You will no longer only have the flaccid excuse of hating beetroots for no other reason than the fact that you have only tried the tinned variety – for indeed there can be no other reason for hating the kingly crimson beetroot and even then not really.

Even the scientific name for beetroot brings to mind the horror that some feel as they cast their eyes over the deep dark scarlet cells of Beta vulgaris subspecies vulgaris. But you should know that while the words vulgaris and vulgar do have the same Latin roots (no pun intended), that Latin word has the meaning of “ordinary”. The word “vulgar” comes from the language ‘Vulgar Latin’ – the tongue of the common man in Roman times.

So according to its name the beetroot is the most ordinary of ordinary foods. But nothing could be further from the truth. Beetroot is a superfood that uses its name as a disguise, fooling people better than any glasses Clark Kent ever wore to hide his superpowers.

Beetroot the superfood

Beetroot truly is a superfood – a term bandied about with abandon to be sure – but justified when an ingredient has properties that not only lowers blood pressure and increases stamina more than almost any form of long-term intensive exercise or any pharmaceutical on the market. It is also high in folate (vitamin B9), anthocyanins (or bioflavanoids shown to help protect the body against a raft of illnesses including cancer) as well as a slew of other vitamins and minerals.

Beetroot is also very high in nitrates (the reason for its heart-felt properties – its bloody colour included) which when eaten turn into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is something that is also produced by our blood cells in order to increase oxygen supply, lower blood pressure and in the case of our white blood cells, fight infection and increase immunity.

In fact it has been suggested – by academics and doctors alike – that drinking 500ml of beetroot juice per day (juice is the best way to ingest your nitrates) can increase stamina by over 15%! That is a huge amount of extra stamina to be gained from drinking juice alone!

In my view, a food cannot properly be called ‘super’ unless it is also extremely edible. Disagree? Well consider putting yourself on a diet of aloe vera juice, fresh dandelion, tripe, cod liver oil and psyllium husks. All of which have numerous health benefits, but let’s be honest, they are disgusting! They have super health properties but are far from being a superfood – an opinion only of course. Beetroot on the other hand is delicious – a fact! It can be eaten savory or sweet, roasted, grated, fermented, fried or boiled. In fact it is great tasting in almost every way.

Beetroot…a star ingredient

Beetroot is sweet and rich in flavour and texture, which means it will add value to any savory or sweet (yes sweet) meal. It is absolutely wonderful roasted and goes particularly well with goats cheese and orange in a salad. If you do boil your beetroot you can also reduce the dark red cooking liquor down into a wonderful sauce or gravy – by adding a few other ingredients of course. If you are worried about the redness of your beetroot leaking everywhere and spoiling the colour of other ingredients then here is a tip that will change your life – cover your beetroot in oil (olive is the best) and see it go from a leaky red nuisance to a lustrous rich red beauty that is instantly colour-fast!

Not convinced yet? Of course not. That is why you actually need to try at least one of our beetroot recipes. If your only complaint is the colour, and you are not convinced by the colour-fast method, then there are other varieties of beetroot that are red and white stiped (Chioggia), yellow and orange. There really are not many other ingredients that can be healthy, tasty, sweet, add richness and depth of flavour to any meal quite like the common old beetroot.


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