When you think of “salad”, what comes to mind? Loose leafy greens topped with bright coloured vegetables such as tomatoes and carrots, and then a creamy dressing? How about changing it up a bit? I’ll show you a simple and nutritious salad recipe using beetroot.
Beets are not an ingredient often using when you think of a typical salad. Especially when you’re purchasing a salad at a restaurant. Often times, it’s more of a Caesar salad or an endive salad that you’ll find at restaurants. So, why am I mentioning beets then?
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I was introduced to beetroots a bit later in life. I cannot offer you fond memories of eating beets while growing up because I was never exposed to it early in life. So, it wasn’t until I was an adult in my mid-20s that I actually tried cooked beets. What made me try it so late in life?
Around that time, my mother was diagnosed as pre-diabetic, meaning her blood glucose levels were high enough to possibly start diabetes medication if she didn't get it under control soon.
This news scared her straight into researching foods that help control your blood glucose levels and she put herself on, what my family called, a strict “rabbit diet” consisting of mainly vegetables.
My family and I were very supportive of my mother at this time, so I helped her grocery shop for only healthy ingredients and took part in consuming the vegetable-heavy foods she prepared.
During that strict rabbit-diet, my mother was eating foods like steamed cabbage, cooked lentils, many different raw vegetables and of course, cooked beetroot. I remember asking her what beetroots tasted like considering its seemingly unnatural maroon colour that has the ability to dye everything it came in contact with.
My mom encouraged me to try it out. And to support her new healthy diet, I didn’t want to cringe, so I forced myself to smile as I attempted to eat the beetroots that she cooked.
I realised in that moment that most of my life, I had a preconceived notion that since beetroots are root vegetables, they probably contained a metallic and earthy taste. That must have been why I kept avoiding them for 20-some years. So, why would anyone want to eat it? Maybe it’s an acquired taste?
There I was chewing on this surprisingly soft and delicate vegetable, contrary to how it appeared, and sure it was going to stain my teeth red. To my surprise, it was delicious! And no red teeth!
If you’re a novice to eating beetroots, contrary to how it’s grown (in the soil) and the way it looks (red, rough, and tough), when cooked it has a soft texture with a mild, sweet and nonabrasive taste. It’s so soft, you can scoop it like sorbet. Sounding pretty good so far?
On top of all of that, beetroots have excellent health benefits.
Helps regulate blood glucose by decreasing insulin resistance.
Lowers blood pressure within hours of consumption (especially systolic blood pressure due to its concentration of nitrates). If you’re taking other nitrate-containing medications, you want to be careful of your consumption of beetroots due to additive effects.
Helps fight inflammation (due to belatains, which contain anti-inflammatory properties)
Improves digestive health (contains 3.4g of fibre for every 1 cup)
May have anti-cancer properties (due to belatains)
May help with memory (due to nitrates increasing oxygen delivery to brain)
May aid in weight loss (due to high fiber and protein concentrations. Can make you feel fuller longer while being low in carlories.)
With all of these amazing benefits of beetroots along with its delicious taste and delicate texture, I regret not having had incorporated beetroots into my diet earlier. Maybe I would have experienced its health benefits earlier in life.
Ingredients You’ll Need
(for 2 servings)
1/2 head of Frisee lettuce (or any mild, slightly bitter green)
10 cherry tomatoes (halved)
4 beetroots, cooked
1 non-green bell pepper (paprika, chopped into cubes)
1 medium orange (peeled and sliced)
1 avocado (peeled and sliced)
100 gram cucumber (cubed)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon orange juice
1 pinch salt
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You can purchase beets already cooked in vacuumed-sealed bags at the grocery store. That’s the easy way to go about making this salad.
But if you’re like me and you want to cook the beetroots yourself, it’s very very easy and more cost effective.
Cut the leaves off of the beets, leaving about 1-inch (2.5 cm) of the stem on.
Scrub the beetroots clean.
Place the beetroots in a pot filled with boiling water covering the beetroots by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water.
Simmer for 30-45 minutes until cooked. The cook time will vary depending on the size of the beetroot. (You should be able to poke a skewer or fork through the beetroot smoothly to check if it’s cooked.)
Once cooked, run the beetroot under cold water until it is cool to keep it from cooking further. The beetroot skin should peel off easily at this point.
Mix the mayonnaise, rice vinegar, honey, orange juice, and salt together is a small bowl. Set it aside to use as dressing for the salad. (If you enjoy heavier amounts of dressing, double the ingredients in this recipe.)
Slice the avocado, orange, beetroot, and lettuce into 1/2 inch-wide (1.25 cm) slices.
Dice the cucumber and paprika into 1/2 inch-wide (1.25 cm) cubes.
Half the cherry tomatoes.
Toss the vegetables in a mixing bowl with the salad dressing made earlier. Then, it’s ready serve.
Tips to Add
I love to add diced mint leaves to sweet salads such as this beetroot salad to brighten it up a bit more. Feel free to generously add the mint leaves before serving the salad.
My husband loves adding feta cheese to this salad. I'm lactose intolerant so that's not my cup of tea, but the flavour profile of feta cheese's tart and savouriness balances the beetroot's sweetness very well.
Beetroots may not stain your teeth but it will stain many other things it comes in contact with, including our fingers and counter tops. When cutting the beetroots, make sure you’re using a poreless cutting board so that the red colour doesn’t soak into it. I do my best not to use my wooden cutting boards when dealing with beetroot. And wash your hands shortly after handling beetroots or else it may stain your fingernails.
If you're taking nitrate-containing medications, consult with your physician before consuming beetroots regularly. Beetroots contain nitrates therefore, may lead to additive effects of nitrates.
Other Ways to Enjoy Beetroots
Add beets to smoothies.
Juice beetroot and drink it straight as a juice.
Make popsicles by adding a sweetener and/or a fruit like orange juice to the beetroot juice.
Puree the beetroot to make a beetroot hummus and add it onto toast.
My hope is that my story and this recipe will help you to no longer shy away from cooking with and eating beetroots if you previously have been. I regret not exposing myself to beets earlier on in my life. But nonetheless, I’m thankful to have found it now. Knowing how beetroots are packed with nutrients, fiber, and protein all the while tasting really great, you have no reason to shy away from it anymore (unless for medical reasons). Let me know how your salad turned out by leaving a comment below.. And feel free to check out my other salad recipes to some inspiration.