It's week #7 of my 2018 challenge to try one new whole-food plant-based (WFPB) recipe each week. I found this recipe on the Be Good Organics website.
The site's Australian author, Buffy-Ellen, started doing a lot of health research after being diagnosed with Grave's disease in her twenties. She writes, "I discovered the following - that organic healthy plant-based foods have the ability to heal, while conventional processed animal-heavy foods have the power to harm. That a toxic and stressful environment is a key trigger for a number of diseases including autoimmune and cancer."
Recently while cutting up some raw beets (to store in the freezer for smoothies), I realized that I needed to showcase this beautiful vegetable on Valentine's Day, for obvious reasons. <3
In addition to resembling Valentine's Day hearts, beets contain natural chemicals that are good for your heart, including nitrates, which improve blood flow and blood pressure.
Beets have also been shown to improve athletic endurance, lower the risk of dementia, and decrease inflammation in the body.
While we're on the subject of beets' effects on the body, I should mention that beets can turn stools maroon in color. (Sorry to mention this on a recipe page. Just want to prevent any unnecessary trips to the doctor's office or ER.) No need to be alarmed if this happens.
Don't feel intimidated by beets.
In my opinion, raw beets can look a little intimidating. The plant can be quite large, bulky, and even dirty-looking (the roots were in the dirt, after all). But don't let beets scare you. Think of the roots as round, red carrots that are slightly sweet. You can eat them raw or cooked. And think of the greens like any other greens you might eat. They can be used in salads, warm dishes, and smoothies.
What I ended up using/doing to make the raw beetroot salad:
For the salad:
- 1 bunch beetroot (there were 3 in the bunch I bought), peeled and cut into matchsticks (Note: Peeling is not necessary. If you don't peel the beets, make sure they're washed well. And if you're not sure how to cut matchsticks, you can check out this video I found on You Tube.)
- Half of a 10-oz bag of julienned carrots
- Half of a large red onion, diced fine
- One package fresh mint leaves (found in the produce section, with the fresh herbs). The package I bought was 3/4 oz.
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, lightly toasted in a saute pan over low heat for a few minutes, until fragrant (Toasting is optional.)
- 1/2 cup raisins
For the dressing:
- The recipe calls for an orange. I didn't have a regular orange, but I had some small mandarins. I ended up using 4 of those. I zested the mandarin oranges (keeping the zest for added citrus flavor), then peeled them (discarding the peel and keeping the fresh orange slices for the blender).
- 5 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (Note: The recipe also calls for chia seed oil, but I didn't have any, so I omitted this step.)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Cracked black pepper to taste (I used 1/8 tsp.)
You basically mix the dressing ingredients in a blender, combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl, pour the dressing over the salad, stir/mix well, and enjoy! (See my note below on possibly keeping the mint leaves separate.) For more detailed instructions, including possible ingredient substitutions, I recommend checking out the original recipe.
What I like about this recipe (besides the fact that it's healthy):
- It's a beautiful dish. (Just look at those bright colors!)
- It's a nice combination of various fresh flavors. As Buffy-Ellen states, "15 minutes down and you've got the perfect combo of textures and tastes." The orange balsamic dressing, red onion, and mint give it a unique but delicious flavor.
- My 7 year-old ate two bowls of it! However, when I asked her if she wanted some leftover beet salad the following day, she replied, "I don't like beets." When I reminded her that she ate two bowls of them the day before, she said, "Those were beets? I thought they were red onions." So apparently she was okay with eating two bowls of red onions, but not beets. (?!) Kids... (sigh). I will give her props though - she's not nearly as picky as I was at her age.
What I would do differently:
I like the flavor of the mint leaves in this recipe. However, the mint leaves don't look as appetizing on day two. As Buffy-Ellen suggests, if you are planning to store this salad in the fridge, keep the mint leaves separate and add them when you are ready to eat it. Next time I'll be sure to do this, reserving the mint leaves and adding them to individual servings. The rest of the salad keeps very well in the refrigerator and makes a nice veggie option for lunches during the week.
I hope you enjoy it!
This post was originally published on February 14, 2018.