Beets – A Lesson in Frugality

Whole Golden BeetsBeets are the ultimate in nutritional usefulness.  Each part of the beet is nutritionally useful, and even the few small parts you don’t want to eat can be fed to your garden in the form of compost.

Golden beets are beautiful and sweet, and according to some sources are much lower in starch than their red cousins.  So if you are reducing starch in your diet for health reasons, golden beets are OK!  Also, red beets are a pain with their sheer redness, which gets all over everything in your kitchen.  I’ve already got stains on everything from all the turmeric I’m consuming, and add the red “blood” from beets and I’ve got sunset-colored cutting boards and wood-handled knives, not to mention my hands…  Ah the price for health.  But I digress…

Beets can be divided into three uniquely useful parts: the roots, the stems, and the leaves.

Roots: The root bulb is the most deliciously sweet part of the plant.  The easiest way to cook the beet root is in foil packets on your grill (btw you can skip the peeling step and eat them with the peel on).  Another way is to simply peel them and steam them, then drizzle with a little olive oil and salt and serve warm.

Stems: The stems of the beets are great for smoothies and soup stocks.  I often cut them in half and store them in a freezer-grade zip lock bag in the freezer until I need them.  When using them in a smoothie or soup (or stock) you don’t even need to thaw them, just throw them right in frozen!

Greens:  Beet greens are excellent when combined with a sweet vegetable (think carrots, fennel, or sweet onions) and sauteed with some fresh minced garlic and olive oil.

All parts have similar nutritional value, with plenty of folate, manganese, potassium, copper, magnesium, B6, vitamin C, and iron!  And don’t forget the fiber, which aids in healthy digestion and protects the immune system.

When you buy beets whole you can store them intact for a couple of days in the refrigerator.  They should be stored loosely in bags with the roots toward the back.  When ready to use, trim the beets into their separate parts and store the unused parts for later.  Place the leaves in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator with some damp paper towels (wash now or later, it doesn’t matter).  The roots should be dried off and then put into their own airtight bag and stored in the veggie drawer of your frig. The stems can go in the freezer, also in an airtight bag or container.  Greens will last about a week, and roots will last about two weeks.  The stems can be kept for months.

In my book, beets are right up there with all the other great superfoods and you should eat them as often as possible (organic of course!).

 

Names of Hidden Sugars

Barbados sugar
Barley malt
Beet sugar
Brown sugar
Buttered syrup
Cane juice
Cane sugar
Caramel
Carob syrup
Castor sugar
Confectioner’s sugar
Corn syrup
Corn syrup solids
Dehydrated cane juice
Demerara sugar
Dextran
Dextrose
Diastatic malt
Diatase
Erythritol
Erythrol
Erythrite
Erytghoglucin
Eryglucin
Erythromannite
Ethyl maltol
Fructose
Fruit juice
Fruit juice concentrate
Galactose
Golden sugar
Golden syrup
Grape sugar
High fructose corn syrup
Invert sugar
Lactose
Malt
Malt syrup
Maltodextrin
Maltose
Muscovado
Panocha
Phycite (erythritol)
Refiner’s syrup
Rice syrup
Sorbitol
Sorghum syrup
Sucrose
Sugar
Treacle

Curried Chickpeas with Rice

Here’s another recipe from Cooking Light magazine, which I adapted to make even healthier.  The original recipe used pork but I made it vegetarian by using chickpeas instead.  I also swapped out the regular dairy milk and used light coconut milk, and swapped the white flour to millet flour, although it would probably be just fine without any flour at all.  I added garam masala and increased the amount of curry powder because the original was bland.  I think the result is a really nice vegan meal.  Having pre-cooked rice and chickpeas on hand makes it a super-fast weeknight meal. Continue reading “Curried Chickpeas with Rice”

Freezing Rice and Other Grains

Ever make more rice than you can eat? If you aren’t going to use it in the next few days, you can freeze it for later use.  Here’s how:

  1. Put 1-1/2 to 2 cups of plain cooked (cooled) brown rice in a quart-size, freezer-grade ziplock bag. Don’t seal it shut yet.
  2. Flatten the bag out, then gently roll from the bottom up to remove as much air as possible, and zip closed.
  3. Flatten it back out and freeze flat.

To thaw, simply massage the bag briefly to break up the frozen rice, then empty it into a microwave safe bowl, cover with a paper towel, and microwave for 30 seconds or so (depending on the wattage of your microwave).

This works for most other cooked whole grains as well. I used to buy frozen pre-cooked brown rice at Trader Joe’s, but this is more economical and tastes fresher.

How to Cook Whole Grains

Barley

Barley is available pearled (the bran has been removed) or quick cooking (parboiled). Technically neither are whole grains but nutritionally speaking they count toward your whole-grain servings because of their high fiber content.

To Cook: Pearl barley Continue reading “How to Cook Whole Grains”