When I first head about a drink made out of soaked beets, I just couldn’t wrap my taste buds around the whole concept. When offered a glass, I literally puckered-up like I was about to sip poison, but I was pleasantly surprised! It tasted earthy, a bit salty, a hint of sour, yet a titch of sweetness and a light effervescence that I wasn’t expecting. I liked it!
The history of beet kvass is that the Ukrainians and Russians have been drinking it for over a thousand years–czars and peasants alike. An electrolyte drink, this lactose-fermented beverage could be called the traditional, real-food version of Gatorade since it provides great hydrating balance.
Growing up, I was always proud of myself for being like Popeye enjoying eating my spinach. We ate cooked spinach out of the frozen Birdseye box, boiling it with butter and salt. I think that my love of spinach gave me a love of greens in general.
And then I was introduced to kale – THE “QUEEN OF THE GREENS”!
Kale is being touted as “the new beef”. It’s a nutritional powerhouse that should be added to your diet because…
My students used to ask, “If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island, what two foods would you bring?”
My standard answer used to be bread and cheese. But several years ago I started toying with the idea of giving up bread in my diet…Crazy idea, huh?
Bread is everywhere in our American diet! It’s in some form at e-v-e-r-y meal and given freely at restaurants to tide us over while waiting for the plates to come. A handful of crackers, a piece of toast or half a bagel is an easy snack to grab between meals. In fact, toast slathered in peanut butter or topped with a fried egg was my grab-and-go breakfast most morning as I rushed out the door to teach.
How do you go without toast in the morning? And how do you eat a sandwich without bread? Will I be able to keep from uncontrollably stuffing delicious, crusty artisan bread in my mouth during monthly book club meetings if I’m depriving myself day to day? What will I use to sop up that delicious pasta sauce/gravy/broth without a warm loaf of sourdough or French bread? No Chonga bagel, banana bread or scone with morning coffee? These questions vexed me as I thought about the challenge I was delivering myself.
Coconut water is being marketed as nature’s perfect sports drink. What exactly is it? It is the clear liquid found in the center of a young coconut before it matures. Once mature, the water has solidified to become the coconut’s tasty white flesh.
Grown in tropical regions all over the world, coconut water can be drunk directly from the freshly harvested green fruit. Across the US, pasteurized coconut water is becoming more readily available in cans, bottles and tetra packs. Some health food markets also carry green coconuts in the produce department for a “fresh” source of this beverage. (Fresh would be best coming straight off the coconut tree.)
I planted my beets in February this year and I received a bumper crop! Unfortunately, they began to bolt last week so I knew it was time to harvest them. What to do with a sink full of beets? Ferment them!
Fermentation? Like beer? Well, yes, but . . . You know that yogurt you enjoy? That’s fermented milk. Not only does it taste good, but it has probiotics – good bacteria – which benefit your digestion. Did you realize that every civilization throughout time has had their history of fermented foods and beverages? They had to utilize fermentation for lack of refrigeration. Today, many of us eat versions of these ferments such as aged cheeses, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, wine and cider which all began as naturally fermented foods.
There is nothing tastier to brighten up a meal in the dead of winter than a refreshing orange. Citrus is in abundance in supermarkets right now, but have you tried a blood orange? Grown since the 18th century in China and the Southern Mediterranean regions, blood oranges are now primarily grown in Italy, Texas and California.
Along with the usual citrus notes, a blood orange has an almost raspberry flavor though it is less acidic than most oranges. The anthocyanins – some of the strongest antioxidants available – give this fruit its crimson blood-colored flesh. Other than its antioxidant activity, anthocyanins have been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, reduce the risk of cancer, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Sweet potatoes aren’t just for Thanksgiving! I found this recipe for Chili-Bathed Sweet Potatoes from the NYT. Drooling over this mix of hot and sweet flavors on a cold winter’s night made me want to share the benefits of enjoying this incredibly delicious vegetable with you. Keep it simple and bake one for dinner, or make some baked sweet potato fries with lunch, or have a bowl of left-over mashed sweet potatoes with crumbled bacon for breakfast. Sweet potatoes also make a great dip or spread for snacks, appetizers or even on your morning toast. Check out some recipe ideas I’ve included below!
I have bad memories of the lunch ladies in grade school “making” us eat our warm, mushy canned beets. But now as a Nutritional Therapist, I realize there is so much more to beets! In the last year, I’ve come to appreciate beets in many forms – raw and shredded in a salad, pickled on a sandwich, roasted and eaten cold, as a fermented beverage called kvass, and sauteed beet greens and garlic with my eggs for breakfast. (Honestly, sooo delicious!)
I grew beets in my garden this year – traditional red beets, golden beets, and white Chiogga beets, which, when sliced, look like a bulls-eye. I harvested a whole sink full of beets the other day so I’ve been looking for more inspiration for how to use them in my diet. I’ve shared additional recipes with you at the end of this post.