When it comes to beets, says Susan Jane Murray, you can't lose, as they're one of the healthiest foods on earth
I'm a nutritional crusader -- nut for short. It's my mission to show you how simple changes in your shopping trolley can affect your mood, energy and pizazz for 2010. Each week, we'll focus on some high-voltage fodder to electrify those neurotransmitters and high-jump those pesky afternoon slumps. You'll soon discover that good nutrition is pivotal to your health and vitality. The food we eat is inescapably linked to our well-being, our concentration levels, our libido and, yes, our love handles. And it shouldn't have to compromise our taste buds or our wallets, either.
So root out the apron, throw on some Sinatra, and baptise those New Year's resolutions. It's time for some culinary mirth and merriment.
No doubt you'll be craving some antioxidants after this year's Christmas carnage. Beetroot might just be your festive saviour, because it will pump life back through your veins. Loaded with beta-carotene, antioxidants and iron, it is famed for its radiant restorative powers on the blood. And anything that helps purify the blood will surely help kick-start the liver. Hallelujah! Munching mamas will profit from its generous folic acid and fibre, and its low calorie content. Try it chopped into chunks, drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil, or teamed with walnuts, apple, carrot and ginger. Or with Paul Keane's delicious Bluebell Falls Goat's Cheese crumbled on top of warm beetroot slices and a local watercress pesto.
Freshly juiced, this purple veg enjoys great repute in cancer-care clinics across the globe, and yet, beetroot is still one of the most underused and misunderstood veggies. It's easy to find in supermarkets and stores, but it doesn't always mosey its way into our shopping trollies.
Dr Jonny Bowden, author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth (Fair Winds Press) is trying to change that. Dr Bowden rates beetroot among his top five foods, which is a relief to recessionistas and eco-warriors alike -- it's cheap, plentiful, and comes with a low carbon footprint. There's two resolutions solved in one sitting.
No, it's not daft. It's sharp and sweet like ketchup, only far snazzier to serve at a meal to your guests.
I've timed it to a tee -- it takes a mere 25 seconds to whip up. Keep a packet of vacuum-packed beetroot in your fridge, and you'll never be short of a swift, juicy accompaniment. It suits almost any dish and ramps it up a tasty notch. With its potency of carotenoids and minerals, your skin will surely be vaccinated against the harmful effects of lazy, festive livers.
You will need:
4 medium-sized beetroots, cooked
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons plain natural yoghurt
3 teaspoons agave nectar or honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chop the cooked beetroots into rough chunks. If you're using vacuum-packed cooked beetroot, choose one without vinegar added as a preservative. Using a hand-held blender, whizz the cooked, chopped beetroots along with the crushed garlic, the cider vinegar, the plain natural yoghurt, the agave nectar or honey, whichever you're using, and some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Blend until the mixture is sumptuously smooth and creamy. Adjust the sweetness or sharpness to your preference. The honey or agave will sweeten the ketchup, while the cider vinegar gives it attitude. A tiny amount of each makes a difference. Season and serve.
This will keep well in the fridge, and it loves leftover roasts. It goes devastatingly well with meat of the wild variety: pigeon, duck, venison, pheasant, partridge. Super on salads as a fabulous smooth topping to grated carrots, celeriac, pear and hazelnuts. Its rather moreish with white fish, steamed fennel and torn flatleaf parsley. Endless combos.