Friday Feature: Beetroot and a surprise recipe!

Beetroot - one of those veggies that looks ugly and scary on the outside but hides the most beautiful and delicious pink flesh inside.

Beetroot was in fact first cultivated by the Romans. By the 19th century it held great commercial value when it was discovered that beets could be converted into sugar. Today, the leading commercial producers include the USA, Russia, France, Poland and Germany. Many classic beetroot recipes are associated with central and Eastern Europe including the famous beetroot soup known as borscht. Beetroot's earthy charm has resulted in its ubiquitous influence on fashionable menus and recipes. Its delicious but distinctive flavour and nutritional status have escalated it to the root you can't beat!

Belonging to the same family as chard and spinach, both the leaves and root can be eaten - the leaves have a bitter taste whereas the round root is sweet. Typically a rich pink colour, beetroot can also be white or golden. Due to its high sugar content, beetroot is delicious eaten raw.

Beetroots are chock-full of other nutrients like iron, manganese, copper, potassium, and magnesium – all of which have their individual benefits. Even raw beets have terrific benefits – one of them being the ability to prevent cancer. Not just the vegetable, but even the leaves have something to offer. Beet greens, as we call them, are packed with fiber and protein. They also contain vitamin K (blood clotting properties) and calcium (for strong bones and teeth).

Various studies into these beauties have shown that these potent pink powerhouses of nutrition can lower blood pressure, are good for your heart, can help prevent cancer, help to reduce "bad" cholesterol, help to treat anemia, help to reduce constipation and boost your brain power!

I have to say that I am a recent convert to beetroot, but when you get away from the pre-cooked picked beetroot that looks so sorry for itself and start roasting and mashing them and adding delicious dressings, or crumbled feta to them you are opening the door to a new taste sensation. My advice to you if you are not a beetroot fan is to start with the golden or candy varieties - they are sweeter and less earthy.

I really love beetroot now, and below is one of my favourite ways to eat them - not only is this delicious but so pretty!

Perfect for Valentines day!

Beetroot Falafel

INGREDIENTS:

300g beetroot

2 tablespoons of gram flour

1 x 400g can of chickpeas

1/4 cup of rolled oats

1 x garlic clove

tsp ground cumin

tsp smoked paprka

METHOD

Pre-Heat the oven to 200c

Start by washing the beetroot and cutting out any bits that aren't going to wash off.

Chop into chunks and place in a roasting tin with the drained and washed chickpeas. Drizzle with oil and roast in the oven for 30mins)

Meanwhile add the remaining ingredients to a food processor.

Once the beetroot is cooked and it and the chickpeas the food processor and pulse until the mixture is chunky but holding together - you do not want it too smooth.

Using your hands make little patties and place on a lined baking sheet.

Bake in the over for 30 minutes.


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