Let’s continue the Summer Salad Series! I know we are already halfway through Aug but still… In a sense, as this salad contain several cooked elements it’s the perfect transition from summer to autumn. It’s still pretty fresh with an element of summer, containing juicy nectarines, yet it has that autumnal feel that root vegetables bring.
The combination of flavours may be stretching a little bit outside some people’s tastebuds comfort zone but hey, if you don’t challenge yourself every know and then how are you suppose to grow and evolve? One of the biggest challenges to many of my clients seem to be adding variety to their everyday diet. The majority of people I know, eat mostly the same thing, day in and day out. We get stuck in food ruts. It’s safe and it’s easy. Just like our daily life routines…
I was told once by a man that apparently in Japan most people eat 20-30 different types of foods, including spices every day! How’s that for variation? Now, I will admit that I haven’t verified his statement to see if it’s true or simply a myth, but whatever way, ask yourself “How many different foods and flavours are you eating every day?” By making this salad you will end up with nine (!) different components alone.
Sometimes when people are diagnosed with food intolerances it can turn out to be a blessing in disguise as it opens up the opportunity to try a whole new world of different foods and flavours simply because they have no other choice. Thing is with food intolerances that it’s important to eat as wide of variety of foods as possible (within the range of foods you can eat) to make sure you don’t develop further intolerances. Sometimes the reaction to certain foods is because the digestive system as a whole is compromised and the foods showing up are the ones the person eats the most of. This is not always the underlying reason, but it can be. So simply put; Eat a great variety of colourful foods. It will keep your body happy and your gut microbes happy too. And if you need a change in your life, starting with a few small changes to what’s on your plate can create ripple effect into the rest of your life 🙂
Let’s get going with the recipe! Beetroot is back in season and the peaches and nectarines are still around. I also used whole cooked oats in this salad to make it a complete meal on its own. Whole oats are delicious and very filling. Eating cooked grains like this is a great way to get your whole grains in. They are a good source of fibre keeping your bowel working as it should, plus fibre ads bulk and help us stay full for longer. Whole grains are also a great source of B-vitamins which are essential to a well functioning nervous system. It’s important to remember that B-vitamins are water soluble vitamins, which means our bodies don’t really store them. When we are stressed we have a higher requirement for B-vitamins so it is important to make sure you get plenty if you are having a hectic lifestyle (and who hasn’t).
If you can’t have oats then you can easily sub them for cooked quinoa instead. The fresh mint leaves add another interesting dimension to this cooked salad. Enjoy!
Cumin Roasted Beetroot Salad with Nectarines & Mint
2 cups whole oat kernels, washed and rinsed
3 large beetroot, peeled & chopped into large chunks
2 nectarines or peaches, washed & chopped into chunks
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
3 tbsp olive oil + some extra to coat the beetroot in
juice of 1/2 lemon
sea salt & black pepper to season
Pre heat oven to 175°C. Place your peeled and chopped beetroot on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with the ground cumin a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Toss the beetroot in the oil and seasoning to make sure they are evenly coated. Place the tray in the oven and roast for about 35 min or until the beetroot is nice and soft.
In the meantime, place your washed and rinsed oats in a saucepan and cover with water. You want to have about an inch of water covering your grains. Bring to boil and then reduce to a lively simmer for about 20 min. If it looks like your pan is getting to dry add some extra water. The oat grains are cooked when they become slightly transparent in right the way through.
Once the oats are cooked through, put them into a sieve and drain any excess water. While they cool, make the dressing by mixing olive oil and lemon juice together in a bowl. Season with a pinch of sea salt if you wish. Once the oats have cooled down somewhat, mix in the dressing.
Place your dressed oats, the roasted beetroot and the chopped nectarine in a large bowl. Scatter some fresh mint leaves over the top and enjoy.
This salad makes a nice lunch the following day as you can cook both beetroot and oats ahead of time and then just assembles with the fresh nectarine and mint before eating.
Before the summer is well and truly over, I would like to share this colourful raw salad with you. I’d love if I could literally share it with you, but if not I’ll give you the recipe at least, so you can easily throw it together at home! Beetroot and carrots are in prime season and if you are one of those GIY people who I admire, chances are you can pull most of these ingredients straight from the ground of your back yard!
This simple salad came together as an experiment a few years ago when I was cooking with a couple of friends and we decided to try making a chocolate beetroot cake for the first time. The cake came out well. (I used someone else’s recipe which made a successful outcome more likely) We were left with lots of shredded beetroot and had to come up with another plan to use it. After a few poor years I have adopted the basic mantra of “waste not -want not” and now hate food waste. So what can you do with some raw shredded beetroot? Well give it some raw shredded carrot as a companion, make a simple dressing of a few base ingredients. Then proceed to pull a few leaves of mint from your pot and voilá, a super food salad is born!
Cooking with in season ingredients ensures you’ll get maximum nutrition for your money as well as the freshest ones too. Naturally cooking in season makes it easier to buy local because this is what your small organic farmer is pulling out of the ground right now. Or it is what you can find in your own vegetable garden / allotment.
Cooking and eating this way may take some getting use to, as you might have to step out of your current comfort zone. Perhaps you need to try some new ingredients and learn some more recipes. Another thing I have found over the past year or so is that I’m so much more aware of what is in season and that my body seem to crave different types of food at different types of the year. Anyone else also experiencing that? This summer, with this lovely warm weather we’ve had, has seen me eating lots of raw foods. Probably more than I normally would. It seems to be reflected here on the blog too, judging from the posts of the past few months…
So before it’s time to wrap up for the coming months I would like to give you just another raw food recipe.
When we think about superfoods we often think of exotic, but now readily available foods like chia seeds, goji berries and raw cacao. Fact is, it cannot be overemphasized how much of a superfood beetroot is. I wrote about it here and here. Carrots are famous for their high content of betacarotene, a precursore to vitamin A, a vitamin really important for good eye health. As well as betacarotene, carrots are a good source of lutein and lycopene. Both good cancer fighting properties. In nutritional therapy we look at food not just as basic fuel but also as medicine. So here you have a seriously health promoting simple raw summer / autumn salad. No excuses needed.
The fact that both vegetables are served raw makes for maximum nutritional value. Just make sure your veggies are as fresh as possible. Most people don’t eat enough raw vegetables. Green smoothies or vegetable juices makes it easier to increase intake of raw foods, but sometimes you want something with a bit of a crunch and that’s when this salad deserves a prime place on the menu. It will work really well with meat too if that’s what takes your fancy. Personally I love it with white fish.
P.S I have taste tested this one on lots of people, on some of my cooking demos and even the most avid beetroot fans have been converted 🙂 It seems like the ginger-lemon dressing somehow neutralises the earthiness of the beetroot, which many people so dislike.
Beetroot & Carrot Salad with a Ginger Dressing
Serves 2 generously
2 medium sized carrots, washed & peeled
1 large or 2 small beetroots, washed & peeled
3 tbsp good quality cold pressed olive oil
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1/2 organic lemon
1/2- 1 inch ginger, peeled and finely grated – adjust amount according to how much “kick” you want
A pinch of Himalayan pink salt – to season
A few fresh mint leaves, torn
Grate the carrot and beetroot finely. There are a few ways to do this. If you have a food processor and don’t mind a little extra washing, use it. I used my julienne slicer here. It is a really handy tool except for the fact that I almost always end up rubbing a poor unfortunate finger as well… If you can find a julienne peeler which looks almost like a normal peeler, then go for that one instead. Of course if you have impeccable knife skills, then go ahead and cut your own julienne sticks by all means. It’s just beyond the scope of my own skills.
In a small bowl mix together olive oil, lemon juice and ginger until smooth. Add a drop of water if you find it too thick. Season to taste with some pink salt. Place your finely grated carrot and beetroot in a large salad bowl. Add the dressing. Toss the whole thing gently with your hands. Add a few torn mint leaves to the mix.
This salad will work really well as a side to some grilled white fish or as part of a larger buffet. Or as a snack with a few toasted seeds on top. If you are a little odd like me!
Isn’t it funny how your tastebuds changes? A few years ago there was no way I would have eaten beetroot and cumin was never one of my favourite spices either. Now I simply love it. Isn’t it just amazing how we can grow to love new flavours and foods? Our taste is like life itself, ever growing and evolving. The biggest hurdle may just being brave enough to try some new stuff out, in the first place. So even if you are not sure you will like this pink hummus, based on previous beetroot and/or hummus experiences, go ahead, take the plunge and try something new. Surprise your tastebuds by stepping out of your comfort zone. You might actually like it!
Beetroot is your everyday superfood. They are a pretty pink nutritional powerhouse and an excellent example of how food can work as medicine. They are rich in folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus. The purple-red colour comes from betacyanin which is considered an important cancer fighting compound. Beetroots, particularly in its raw state is a very strong detoxifier due to its high content of the antioxidant glutathione. They taste great raw, grated into a salad or in a juice. Or you can cook them by boiling them or roasting them. Pickled beets are also popular. Personally I prefer the raw or roasted. I find it is quicker to roast them than boil them, plus the roasting seems to bring out the sweet flavour too.
Cumin is a typical Middle Eastern flavour and works really well with pulses. It is the main spice in your usual hummus and its earthy flavour marries really well with the earthiness of the beetroot. It is considered as a carminative herb meaning it has digestive health benefits and can reduce flatulence. No wonder it is suited to use with pulses…
Tahini is the other staple ingredient of hummus and it works very well in this recipe too. Tahini is sesame seeds ground into a paste. It is quiet bitter on its own but gives a creaminess to the hummus. I find it also pulls all the different flavours together beautiful. Seasame seeds are a great source of calcium, so an important addition to any diet, but particularly to keep them bones healthy.
This beetroot hummus is delicious as a dip with raw veggies, on top of oat cakes or as a side dish to a mixed salad, grilled fish or what ever else you can think of. Even though it contains several earthy ingredients it is surprisingly sweet. You will get the best texture if you use a food processor.
Enjoy this pretty pink powerhouse in anyway you see fit. If you make it, I would love to hear what you though of it. 🙂
Butter Bean & Beetroot Hummus
1 tin of butter beans, drained & rinsed
2 large beetroots, peeled
2 tsp dark tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
sea salt & black pepper, to season
Start by roasting your beets. Peel and chop the beetroot into chunks. Place on an ovenproof tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Roast in a preheated oven at 200°C, for about 40 min or until soft. Once the beetroot is done, let them cool completely before adding to your food processor. A smart idea is to roast a couple of extra beets when you are making your usual roast veggies and then make the hummus later or the following day.
Add the butter beans, tahini and lemon juice along with the beets to your food processor and blend until you have a smooth paste.
The hummus will keep for a few days in the fridge if stored in an airtight container. Enjoy as a dip, spread or as a side to your main meal.
A New Year, a New You. This seems to be the message every you look at the moment. It is all about new year’s resolutions, detoxing and diets. If you, like most people just enjoyed the holidays a little too much and feel like it is time to get back on track, then how about doing something a little different this year?
Instead of making a new year’s resolution that this year you will “get fit and healthy”. Why not instead set some specific goals that will put you firmly on the road to where you want to be. Having clear goals makes it so much easier than something fluid like “lose weight”. Have a good think about where you would like to be by Dec 2014 and set some clear and specific goals. Things like; I will walk for 1h three times a week, I will take up pilates one night a week and/or I am going to complete a 10k run, are all much more productive goals and visions to have if “getting fit” is one of your ambitions for this year.If getting healthy is another one of your resolutions then I suggest you pencil down goals like; I will have one meat free day a week, I will eat one different coloured vegetable every day and/or I will learn one new healthy recipe every week.
One quote I came across last year and which I will make my 2014 inspiration mantra is “Be positive, patience and persistent”. This is such great advice. Even when you don’t feel neither positive or patient you can still be persistent. Actions that are repeated over time will eventually become habits. This is so important to bear in mind as we work on changing and moving towards a healthy lifestyle.
The other thing about January, the first month of the year and the end of any overindulgence from the holidays, is that it is DETOX month. This is such a controversial subject. You will find as many ideas and opinions on how to detox as there is websites out there writing about the subject. I will keep it short and sweet.
Our body is constantly detoxing. The main detoxifying organ in the body is the liver. But our lungs and the skin is also heavily involved in detoxing. Basically what you want to do when you are detoxing is to give your liver a break and to support the work it does one a daily basis. Anyone on medication should not detox without professional support as a lot of medicines are metabolised by the liver and detoxing can alter the effect of certain medications. However, most people can do a gentle detox simply by reducing (or removing) processed meats, refined sugars and dairy. Alcohol and caffeine is other ones that are good to stay away from too.
A gentle detox will include eating lots of vegetables, both raw and cooked, drinking plenty of fluids (in this cold weather, warm fluids or at room temperature are best) and to get protein from plant based sources such as beans and lentils and seeds. This is all part of a healthy lifestyle anyway.
Some foods are better detox foods than other and I have created a detox salads with some of them to help you make a healthy start to 2014. Incorporating some raw foods every day into your diet will ensure that you get some live enzymes and they are loaded with vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy.
Grapefruit and beetroot are both king of the detox food list. Grapefruit works in a detoxifying manner by promoting an enzyme in the liver that helps make toxic compounds water soluble for safe excretion out of the body. Beetroot is on top of the list due to its liver supporting qualities. The natural compounds in the beetroot can increase the levels of glutathione peroxidase which is one of the most potent antioxidants in the body. It is also a great source of iron, potassium and magnesium, making it a great alkalising vegetable.
As I don’t personally like too much raw food when the weather is cold, I have included some cooked whole spelt grains, to serve warm, with this salad. They will, along with the walnuts give a lovely nutty flavour and chewy texture to this otherwise raw salad. They are a great source of protein and B-vitamins so will give you additional health benefits. If you don’t like grapefruit that much you can swap it for an orange. It will give the salad a sweeter flavour. Not quiet as detoxing but still very good for you.
A Colourful Detox Salad
1 small beetroot (raw), peeled
1 small chioggaia beetroot, peeled – if you can’t get it use more of your normal red beetroot
1 medium sized carrot
1 pink grapefruit – or use an orange instead
1 cup whole spelt grains, soaked for 3-4 h
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp coldpessed rapeseed oil
1/2 tbsp grapefruit juice
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey – or maple syrup if vegan
1 heaped tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
Drain and rinse the soaked spelt grains. By soaking them, they will become easier to digest and you will shorten the cooking time. However if you are not great at forward planning, it is possible to omit this step. Just give them a quick rinse before adding to your saucepan and cook for 5-10 min longer. Place the grains in a saucepan with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce to a lively simmer. Cook for 40 min or until the grains are soft. They will have a chewy texture but should not be hard in the middle. Once cooked, drain and then return to the pan to keep warm until ready to serve.
Meanwhile prepare the raw salad. Use a julienne slicer to slice the carrot and beetroot into thin strips. If you don’t have one you can use your food processor and the grating blade. Alternatively grate on a hand grater. For the chioggia beet I used a mandolin. Mainly for its beautiful appearance. Segment the grapefruit. Here is a good video on how to do it. Cut the segments into smaller pieces.
Make the dressing by mixing the oil, grapefruit juice, apple cider vinegar and honey into a small bowl. When all the ingredient is well combined add in the mint. Gently toss the vegetables in the dressing. Then add the warm spelt grains. Serve in two bowls with the chopped walnuts scattered over the top. The salad is lovely on its own or you can use it as a side dish with white fish.