Nature created a work of art when it created beetroot. Its intense purple hues are representative of it’s potent antioxidant content.
This intense colour is an expression of the natural plant pigment and antioxidant anthocyanin which is present in red, purple and blue plants. Beetroot are packed full of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C, folic acid, manganese and potassium. They’re also full of fibre! While beetroot are typically a rich, deep purple, they can also be a white, golden or even pink colour.
In addition to its antioxidant benefit, a link between beetroot and blood pressure was also recently found where drinking a glass of beetroot juice resulted in a significant drop in patients’ blood pressure, thought to be due to the high level of nitrates in beetroot.
Beetroot belongs to the same family as spinach and chard, and more interestingly, amaranth and quinoa! A lot of people don’t realise that you can eat beetroot leaves too! They’re superb in salads, much like baby silverbeet or chard leaves. The roots are naturally sweet, especially when roasted. I love to roast them with a little drizzle of maple syrup or honey to really bring out its natural sweetness, which is then perfect paired with some salty feta cheese or goats cheese (the beetroot, thyme and goats cheese tart recipe below is one of my go-to recipes for a simple weekend lunch). Due to its naturally high sugar content, beetroot is delicious eaten raw as well as cooked, which retains all it’s vitamins too, like in the raw superfood salad and apple and beetroot smoothie recipes below.
Another interesting use is as a natural food colouring – for a pretty magenta coloured cocktail, add a piece of beetroot into the shaker before straining. Or sometimes I use grated fresh beetroot to tint salmon gravlax or make naturally-coloured pink coconut ice (grind a bit of beetroot flesh up with sugar in a mortar and pestle, then mix in desiccated coconut). A word of warning however, the natural-colouring effect also applies to what comes out the other end – don’t be alarmed by the visual similarity to haematuria (blood in the urine). Doctors have obviously encountered many a falsely distressed patient that they have even come up with a name for this effect, ‘beeturia’.
Be sure to try one of my favourite beetroot recipes below!
To be doing what I am today is a dream come true. It all started when I was 12 years old. I was watching TV after school one day and Jamie Oliver was cooking up a storm on The Naked Chef.