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Naturally Beet-iful

Beets may seem like an uninspiring vegetable. They are usually found in the grocery store with their tops cut off. It’s a slightly different story when they come from the farmer’s market with the beautiful red and green leaves still attached. However, most of us only think of beets as something you would roast in the oven.

Beets have a lot more going for them than that! Here are few reasons beets should be part of your diet:

1. They are beautiful. The naturally red colour turns any dish into a bright pink. Perfect for Valentine’s Day dinner or a food-colouring-free children’s party.

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2. They’re full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants

3. Beets are a good source of fibre.

4. They’re heart healthy and help to lower blood pressure.

Here are three delicious recipes that all feature beets. Perfect for a Valentine’s Day dinner or just adding a bit more pink to your life.

Quick tip: To avoid dying your hands pink, wear kitchen gloves while chopping, peeling or grating the beets.

Baba’s Simple Borscht

Prep time 15 minutes; cook time 30 minutes

This is a simple recipe for a creamy and satisfying borscht. Instead of providing the bulk of the flavour, like Polish or Czech borscht, beets are only one of the vegetables in this soup. White beans are not traditional, however, they turn this into a one-pot meal.

1 medium onion

2 carrots

1 beet

1⁄2 small cabbage

1⁄4 cup butter

398 ml can of chopped tomatoes

5 cups water

11⁄2 tsp salt

3 russet potatoes

1⁄4 cup whipping cream

4 sprigs fresh dill or 2 Tbsp dried dill

1 can white beans (optional)

1. Finely chop the onions. Grate the carrots and the beets. Shred the cabbage.

2. Melt the butter in the soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and fry for about 1 minute before adding the carrots, beets and cabbage. Continue to fry until the cabbage is tender.

3. Add the canned tomatoes, water and salt.

4. Peel and halve the potatoes. Add them to the soup pot and boil until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

5. When the potatoes are cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the soup. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and mash with the whipping cream.

6. Stir the mashed potatoes back into the soup pot, along with the dill. Add the canned white beans if you want to turn the soup into a hearty meal.

7. Heat the soup to warm up the beans, but do not boil.

8. Taste and add more salt if needed.

9. Serve with a slice of crusty bread and some cheddar cheese.

Bright Pink Risotto

Prep time 5 minutes; cook time 30 minutes

Risotto is a super simple one-pot meal that has the mystique of being complicated. Many recipes require continuous stirring, while the liquid is slowly added. This isn’t necessary unless you require perfection. You only need to stir a few times during the cooking process.

Beets give this risotto a deep pink colour. I’ve included a small amount of red wine in the recipe to give it a traditional flavour, however, it can easily be replaced by more broth. Also, if you can’t find arborio rice, use any short-grained rice instead.

4 cloves of garlic

3 beets

2 Tbsp olive oil

13⁄4 cup arborio rice

1⁄2 cup of red wine

51⁄2 cups of stock

2 Tbsp butter

1⁄2 tsp salt, to taste

11⁄2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

1. Dice the garlic. Peel and chop the beet into small cubes.

2. Heat the oil on medium in a large pot. Add the garlic and beets with a pinch of salt. Fry for 2–3 minutes.

3. Add the rice and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the rice is nicely coated in oil.

4. Reduce the heat to low and add in the red wine. Stir to mix well, then add in all of the stock.

5. Cover and cook until the rice is soft and the liquid is absorbed, about 20–30 minutes. Stir 3–4 times during the cooking process to prevent any rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

6. When the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Taste it and add more salt as needed (it will depend on the saltiness of the stock).

7. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a side salad.

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

Prep time 10 minutes; bake time 25 minutes

These red velvet cupcakes get their colour for the addition of beets! Beets add a rich, earthy flavour that perfectly compliments the chocolate. The resulting cupcakes have a texture similar to that of a carrot cake, with the flavour of a traditional chocolate cake.

Serve them without frosting for a fun muffin-like snack or use cream cheese frosting for a party fun cake.

Wet ingredients:

1 large beet

2 tsp lemon juice

2 large eggs

1⁄2 cup milk

2 Tbsp honey

2 tsp vanilla

1⁄2 cup melted unsalted butter

Dry ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1⁄2 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup white sugar

1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a muffin tin with liners.

2. Either buy a pre-cooked beet at the grocery store or boil the beet whole.

3. Finely grate the beet and mix with the lemon juice. Set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, honey, melted butter, and vanilla.

5. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.

6. Fold in the beets.

7. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

8. Bake until golden brown, 22–25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing.

Emillie Parrish
Emillie Parrish
Emillie Parrish loves having adventures with her two busy children. She lives in Victoria and is the author of the fermentation-based blog