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Just Beet It!

Just Beet It.. Beet it.. doncha make me repeat it !

Beetroot is pretty to look at, but it is an acquired taste. This dark, almost blood red vegetable has an earth, sandy organic taste and I love eating it in my salads. The beetroot has been linked with better stamina, improved blood flood and lower blood pressure.

photo credit : NY Times

photo credit : NY Times

So, if you are hitting the juices bar before a run, remember that, the redder, the better. A recent study from Saint Louis University in Missouri reveals that when fit men and women ate a cup of cooked beetroot about an hour before running 3 miles, they achieved a pace 3 percent faster than runners who were given a pre-race placebo.

So, if you find your running is good, but could be better, then perhaps beetroot is what you need to add, to give you that energetic final burst.

If you’re considering beetroot as one of your 5-a-day, it contains potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B6 and C, folic acid , carbohydrates, protein, antioxidants and soluble fibre. Researchers show that beetroot juice may help lower blood pressure, but in 2010 UK researchers revealed that nitrate is the special ingredient in beetroot which lowers blood pressure and may help to fight heart disease too.

You see, the body converts nitrates into nitric oxide, a powerful molecule that dilates the blood vessels allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach your hard-working muscles. You might think that these are the same as the dangerous nitrates found in cured meats, but don’t worry, in this case, when it occurs naturally, something in nitrate-rich fruits and vegetables, keeps them from turning carcinogenic. These are the good nitrates my friends.

In fact all nitrate-rich foods, such as celery, radishes and spinach have great circulation and vasodilating properties. It can increase blood flow to places that lack oxygen as well. As we age, beetroot can help as it increases blood flow to the brain in older people, which may be able to fight the progression of dementia, a 2010 study suggested.

The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals in beetroot help fight chronic disease. Studies show that people who eat more vegetables, including those that are nitrate-rich, are less likely to suffer from cancer, degenerative brain disease and cardiovascular problems.

So, the next time you reach for a salad or a shake or juice, try adding beetroot to super charge your workout .. and increase your life expectancy too, while you are at it!

Recipe found on NY Times using Farro and Beetroot:

Farro is the Italian name for emmer wheat, an ancient strain of hard wheat. It is super healthy and has a low glycemic index. It is sold dried and is prepared by cooking in water until soft, but still crunchy and is great to use as part of this beetroot salad.

2 medium or 3 small beets with greens, the beets roasted, the greens stemmed and washed in two changes of water

1 cup farro, soaked for one hour in water to cover and drained

Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 small garlic clove, minced or pureed

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (may substitute 1 to 2 tablespoons walnut oil for 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil)

1/2 cup broken walnut pieces

2 ounces feta or goat cheese, crumbled (more if desired for garnish)

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, tarragon, marjoram, chives, mint

1. Bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Fill a bowl with water. When the water comes to a boil, add salt to taste and the greens. Blanch for two minutes, and transfer to the ice water. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop coarsely and set aside.

2. Bring the water back to a boil, and add the farro. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes, stirring from time to time, or until the farro is tender. Remove from the heat and allow the grains to swell in the cooking water for 10 minutes, then drain.

3. While the farro is cooking, make the vinaigrette. Whisk together the vinegars, salt, garlic and mustard. Whisk in the oil(s). Add to the farro. Peel and dice the beets and add, along with the beet greens, feta or goat cheese, herbs and walnuts. Toss together, and serve warm or room temperature with a little more cheese sprinkled over the top if you wish.

Yield: Serves eight

Advance preparation: The roasted beets and cooked beet greens will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator, and the cooked farro for five days. You can assemble this salad hours or even a day ahead; it will redden with time.
2 medium or 3 small beets (any color) with greens, the beets roasted, the greens stemmed and washed in two changes of water

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