This month’s menu, Betteraves Beets, is both a play on words and a nod to my pal in Paris who told me he was motivated to start running by my previous post, It’s Never Too Late…to Exercise. Betteraves is French for beets and, as the “s” is silent, it sounds un petit peu like “better ‘ave” (yes, I’m stretching it a wee bit). And if you are a runner, or doing any exercise really, then you’d better have your beets. See below for more on why.
This is not a menu so much as a selection of recipes to showcase ways you can beet-ify your meals. I’m often too lazy to cook beets so I usually eat them raw in salads, shaved very thinly or julienned as in the Apple, Beet & Carrot Slaw. But if you take the time to roast your beets, you will be well rewarded when you taste the Beet & Lentil Salad or the Kale, Salmon & Beet Salad.
When it comes to the Can’t Beet Me Smoothie 2.0, you could use raw or cooked beets. If you have a high speed blender (like a Vitamix) which is powerful enough to purée raw beets, I’d suggest using raw to preserve most of the nutrients. This recipe is from the book Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky (also mentioned in my previous blog post).
This smoothie is a pre-workout drink. Generally I don’t recommend smoothies as meals because by blending foods you are, to a degree, pre-digesting them. This increases how quickly the sugars in the food reach your bloodstream. For a meal, you want a slow and steady rise in blood sugar. So it is best to have minimally processed foods and foods that require both time and your body’s energy to break down. But if you are about to go running, it’s a good idea to fuel yourself with something quickly digested that doesn’t sit in your stomach long (which could cause GI upset while exercising) and that provides an immediate boost to your blood sugar to power your workout.
Beets come in all sorts of varieties so experiment with ruby red, golden, white and candy cane varieties. They are in season now. And if you are lucky enough to find them with the greens attached, these are delicious sautéed with olive oil and garlic and topped with crushed red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon.
A final word on a few other ways I like to eat my beets:
- in hummus – try Sunflower Kitchen‘s Organic Beet & Dill Hummus
- as dessert – yes! – try Earth + City‘s indulgent Red Velvet Fudge Bites
So this month’s motto is betteraves beets. I hope you enjoy these recipes!
Betteraves Beets Menu
Pre-workout Smoothie: Can’t Beet Me Smoothie 2.0 (from the book Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky)
Slaw: Apple, Beet & Carrot Slaw (this vibrant slaw partners well with just about everything)
Vegetarian Salad: Beet & Lentil Salad (I prefer French lentils / lentilles du Puy or black lentils for this as they don’t get mushy; this warm salad is wonderful with goat cheese or feta crumbled over top)
Pescatarian Salad: Kale, Salmon & Beet Salad (this recipe calls for canned wild salmon but of course you could cook salmon fillets instead for a more substantial and elegant meal)
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A few featured foods …
Beets are a rich source of nitrate which the body converts into nitric oxide (NO). Research shows NO can increase blood flow, improve lung function and strengthen muscle contraction. It works by opening up your blood vessels (vasodilation), increasing blood flow and providing more oxygen to working muscles.
Consuming beets or beet juice may boost your athletic performance and may also improve hypertension, lessen inflammation and possibly even reduce the risk of some cancers.
Just a final word on the coconut water found in the Can’t Beet Me Smoothie 2.0. Athletes like coconut water as it is high in electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, is an excellent source of vitamin C and also provides a quick glucose boost from naturally occurring sugar. Just make sure the brand you choose does not have any added sugar.
Of course, if you don’t have coconut water, plain water will do and your smoothie will still have plenty of potassium and magnesium from the banana and cacao powder.
Cooking your own food is the single most impactful step you can take to improve your health and energy!
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