Monday, May 2, 2011

Miscellaneous Info About Beets

Have you noticed that I like beets? They get used often here in fresh juice, in salad or roasted. When beets are local and in-season I become obsessed with them and seem to pick them up each week. Local beets have come to market so I wanted to share some beet facts with you. I have not always loved beets in fact until about 5 years ago I avoided them for which I have my mother to thank. The only beets I had growing up for pickled and I didn’t like those at all. Fortunately I had some simple roasted beets one day and was shocked that I enjoyed them. Now I am happy to report that I really like beets.

Did you know that beets are in the same botanical family as chard and spinach? I was surprised when I found that out myself. Beet leaves have a similar flavor to chard only a little more bitter in my opinion. However since I like bitter food I love beet greens. They are a wonderful addition to salad and are good wilted like spinach.

Beets are said to have been first cultivated by the ancient Romans. We Italians are responsible for everything good you know. (just kidding.. well, sort of) ;-)

Beet greens are more nutritious than beet roots as they contain more calcium, iron, as well as vitamins A and C. The beetroot is a good source of folic acid. Beets have also been used for disorders of the liver. They are high in betacyanin which is reported to be a cancer fighter. The greens contain a lot of oxalate which can be a problem for those with oxalate-containing kidney stones. Also eating beets can result in a harmless pink or red color to your eliminations.

When you buy beets look for fresh attached greens and firm beetroots. Before you store them in the refrigerator cut off the greens and store those separately like you would store other greens and lettuces.

Beets can be eaten raw or cooked. I like them either way but tend to eat them most often raw either in fresh juice or salad.  However you can add beets to your diet I think they are a good thing. We can all use more blue/purple foods on our diets.

What is stopping you from getting healthier?

I get a lot of questions asking me how we are able to eat as healthy as we do. These emails frequently will say things like “I could never live like you because my family wouldn’t go for it” or they give some other reason why they can’t do it. As you may expect this makes me a little sad because I worry that these people are setting up roadblocks before they can even get started. Since these emails come quite often I thought I should tell you how we were able to make dramatic changes to our lifestyle.

Once I made up my mind that our focus was going to be health everything else was easy. When you approach life from the perspective of “what is the healthiest choice I could make right now“ you naturally make better choices. Sure it is easy to grab a muffin and coffee at work for breakfast, but no one actually believes that it is the healthiest choice they could make. Do you see how this simple thought (what is the healthiest choice right now) could get you moving in the right direction if you followed it most of the time?

Like you I also have nagging little thoughts that come up for me all the time. Things like “diet can’t overcome cancer”, or “we have been this way a long time so we can’t change”. When things like that creep into my mind I write them down and then I ask myself these questions:

Is that really true?
• Why do I believe this … or why do I have this thought?
• Do I want this to be true?

Typically when I ask myself these questions I quickly realize I am making things up to give myself an excuse. I think it is natural to not want to fail and that is the reason I suspect our brains make up stories. After all if something is impossible than it isn’t that we failed we just weren’t superhuman. However I find that I am capable of much more than I ever thought possible. Also if we aren’t willing to make changes nothing in our respective lives is going to change or improve. The least we can do it give life our best shot. What do actually you have to lose from trying to change other than your bad habits?

The next step in this process is to imagine what life would be like if you had what you wanted (which is our case is complete health)? Can you visual what your life would be like if you reached your goal? What would you look like? What sorts of things would you do if you were a changed person? How would you interact with others? How would you feel? Once you can imagine how your life would be it becomes very easy to make good choices so that you start moving in the direction of what you want. Using us as an example if we were the healthiest we could be at 49 and 56 we would drink green smoothies and fresh vegetable juice, and eat salads, beans and whole grains. We would also be active and would stay away from known toxins (alcohol, processed foods, etc.). Do you see how this happens? First you decide what you want then you go after it with each decision that you make.

The converse is true however if you get stuck on the nagging doubts you have. Let’s say you want to be healthy but you tell yourself that you can’t do it because you don’t have time. You just gave yourself a reason why you aren’t going to be healthy. However, is really true that you don’t have time? Instead of spending hours online, watching TV or talking on the phone you could be going for a walk, making healthy food, or going grocery shopping. As you can see you really had time but you choose to spend it doing things that weren’t helping you to reach your goal.

Let’s say you tell yourself that you can’t get healthy because your family won’t eat what you cook. Now ask yourself is that really true? If you say yes then the next question is are you sure? Have you tried to serve them healthy food? What if you try to serve healthy food and they won’t eat it … now what do you do?  Ask yourself, do you want it to be true? Of course you don’t but you also probably don’t know to do next. Sounds like it is time to brainstorm to me. You have a few options that you could try. First you could try explaining to your family that nutrition makes a difference in health and seeing if that makes encourages them to eat the more healthy food. If it doesn’t you can still “have have your cake and eat it too” so to speak. You could make some whole grains, beans and veggies for dinner for yourself. However you could feed your family a similar dish with extra nuts, oil or a little cheese. It might not be perfect but Rome wasn’t built in a day and sometimes people need to ease into change.

I hope that reading this has given you some insight into how we were able to change our lives so dramatically with small steps here and there which eventually resulted in significant change. When I look at the changes we made in total even I think it is remarkable. However, when you take things one step at a time I think you will be surprised how much progress you can make in a relatively short period of time.

I hope that this makes modifying your diet seem more manageable. No one likes change we would all prefer to stay exactly where we are because we know that place. However unless you change your actions you won’t change your situation. Start small with one step and keep adding more changes until you get where you want to be.

If any of this makes sense to you and/or you want me to write more about this let me know.  This is a topic that I could write a lot about if there is interest.

Happy Thoughts:

• Monday we had the loveliest weather. There were blue skies and temperatures in the mid 70s. It was a welcome change from our cold rain on Sunday. Any day where we have sunny spring weather is all good in my book.

• Today I decided to give myself a break from photographing my food. I hope you don’t mind. Some days I am just not in the mood and this was one of those days. You didn’t miss anything I had a green smoothie, flax and oat crackers with salsa, and orange and Brazil nuts, a big green salad and veggie soup. Nothing exciting just healthy food. It was good to just be myself today since I don’t do that often any more. I will get back to photographing food tomorrow.

• I am also thankful for my husband today. One of my birthday presents arrived today. My husband is once again being too generous with me but I think it is very sweet as much as I wish that he wouldn’t do it. I had strict orders today to stay out of the package so that I had something to open on my birthday. The rooster cookie jar (from the post yesterday) was also one of my presents but needless to say it won’t get wrapped. I am bad about not waiting for presents. The same thing happens when I buy presents for others early I just can’t wait until the occasion to give them either. Patience is not one of my strengths.

• All the azaleas are gorgeous now. I love walking around the neighborhood looking at everything in bloom. Spring is a magical time of the year. Also on a positive note my mint is about 4 inches high now which is wonderful. I love mint and can’t wait to start adding it to all my salads with fruit. I also love smelling the wisteria when I go for my neighborhood walks.  Have you noticed that I love spring?  LOL

• Dan and I seem to have gotten into the habit of walking together when he gets home from work. The weather this evening was perfect for an evening walk. It was nice to get some activity in while talking and catching up on our respective days.

• I had time today to read another book which was a relaxing way to spend my morning. It is good to be reducing my inventory from the library.

• Dan and I may be going on another date during the week which is something nice to look forward to. I am hoping to hear more about that tomorrow. It is a long story but I will explain it later in more detail if it happens. *fingers crossed*

Signed Book Give Away:

If you haven’t yet entered don’t forget about “The 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart” give away that was signed by Dr. Barnard. I will be choosing the winner for my Saturday post and you have multiple ways to enter to win. It is a great book full of nutrition information and very well sourced which I reviewed here. I loved the book enough that I bought a copy after checking it out at the library.

Signing out:

Like always Dan and I have stayed up later than we should have. Some things never change do they? 

I have a number of errands to run tomorrow so I won't be online much. However I will be talking to you again tomorrow late in the day.  I hope that you had a good Monday.  Good night!


  1. I know - no contest today, but I *really* enjoyed the encouraging, upbeat, enthusiasm of this post. I have also failed to try beets again in my adulthood, due to poor experiences as a child. I keep wanting to (I totally eat the greens!), but then I fail to follow through. I'm so worried I'll still dislike the flavor of the beets, despite everything positive I've read about them. Slightly off topic: do you have a hard time finding organic grapes? I do! (I haven't seen frozen grapes in your blog for some time.)

  2. Gloria,

    Commenting two days in a row ... are you feeling okay? LOL, sorry I couldn't resist. ;-)

    It is a shame that many of us had poor beet experiences growing up. I was convinced that I didn't like the flavor and was shocked when I did. My favorite way to make them is to bake them wrapped in foil with a little marsala, thyme and orange juice. They are beyond amazing prepared like that.

    I can usually find organic grapes at Whole Foods but not always. I actually have some in the freezer but haven't craved them recently. They are more a hot weather snack for me is the only reason you haven't seen them. However now that you have reminded me of them I may have to get some today. LOL

    talk to you later,

  3. Nice beet post! It was probably you that got me started juicing them over a year ago, but I still haven't tried them (or their greens) cooked. I'll try to cook some soon and let you know what I think. When you wrap them in foil and bake them, do you keep them whole? What temperature and for how long?

    I need to order a few books to keep me motivated...primarily to stay away from sweets and refined flour, and to eat a bigger variety of veggies. More of a health book than a recipe one. When you have a chance, would you please make a list of your favorites?

  4. Laura,

    You know me I play it by ear with food. But yes the beets are whole except I trim the top and bottom. The oven should be between 350 and 375. Bake them until they are tender which will be different depending on the size but expect it to take at least 45 minutes.

    Have you read "The China Study"? What about "Eat for Health"? "The 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart" also has a lot of science in it. In fact that was my favorite part. If you need more suggestions let me know.


  5. I love your Italian comments:)

  6. Simona,

    Glad I could make you smile. I have a friend whose father used to say "There are two kinds of people in the world, Italians and those that want to be". Only another Italian would appreciate that I suspect. LOL

    I hope you are having a good Tuesday,

  7. Again another fabulous post. I will have you know my personal dinner did not have any meat in it! I made a green salad which I had planned to add ham and eggs to, I cooked quinoa in "better than bouillion no beef base," and I had intended on adding that to my salad, but I ate it plain. And, this was all BEFORE reading your post. I really enjoy your "education" about how to make the little changes. I know I can eat healthfully, it gets REALLY hard when I am in school though, even if my husband is helping out. I WANT to be the healthiest I can be, its just sooo much easier when I get stressed or bogged down to eat the crap. Keep these types of posts coming, please!

  8. Joline,

    Yay, good for you. I wish you could see the smile on my face. I am glad that this helped. If you let me know what specifically you are having trouble with I can come up some ideas for you. Is it that you need food quickly when you get home, or food at school? I need a little more info so I can help. However I am happy to give you ideas once I understand the specifics. :-)

    enjoy the rest of you evening,

  9. That's the thing. I eat at least mostly healthier at school than at home. At school, I don't have money for the vending machines, but we have something sugary and sweet at home, I know that needs to go. Its meal planning that is hard, and making sure our fresh produce gets eaten before it goes bad without needing to run to the store every other day. Food that is palatable to my son, quick, comfort food-ish at least on occasion. Its just a world of drama to fix dinner most nights. "what do you want?" "I dunno, what do you want?" "what do we have in the fridge?" "leftovers that we've been eating for the last four days" "what time is it? crap. how about pizza?" (or macarroni and cheese, or spaghetti, or anything else thats quick, omni, and slightly delicious at least while its being consumed). LOL. I do appreciate all you do, your ideas and insight. Its so nice! Have a great night!

  10. Joline,

    That helps me to understand what you are looking for. I will keep it in mind when I am writing my posts.


  11. I love the beet greens *much* more than the beets themselves, lol! But I know I am unusual :-)

    "It was good to just be myself today since I don’t do that often any more."
    That made me sad...blogging shouldn't prevent you from being yourself! I am so sorry to hear that you feel that is the case. Do what you need to do--be your self and don't feel any pressure to blog if it prevents you from being you!


  12. I hated pickeled beets as a child/teenager, too, to me they tasted like soil and I had the association that worms would taste like that,
    Now it is the colour and therefore the stains they will leave on kitchen utensils and my hands. When we eat artichokes I have brown fingers for several days…
    I like your “what is healthiest now” approach - and I have to admit, I do love to munch some veggie as a snack like a carrot or a courgette (sqash?) so much that I just do prefer it to chocolate or sweets (no matter that it is healthier), which people around me just can’t understand… They think I am cruel to me :-)


Related Posts with Thumbnails