Ode to Beets: 150+ Reasons to Love this Root Veggie

Beets, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. 

Beets are definitely one of my favorite vegetables. One of the most amazing things about them is how good they are for your health. They are loaded with nutrients and are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, & phosphorus. They also provide fiber and antioxidants.

This root veggie also has some medicinal benefits. It helps to cleanse the liver and can be helpful for promoting healthy digestion. Because beets contain nitrates they aid in improving blood flow, lowering blood pressure, and can even boost stamina so you can excerise longer. They also contain betaine, an anti-inflammatory amino acid that helps to protect the body from environmental stress.

Beets contain several minerals that are essential to healthy nerve and muscle function and promote bone, liver, pancreas,and kidney health. They also contain B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.

Beet greens are extremely healthy too. They are an important source of essential nutrients, like vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. They also contain more iron than spinach and are a good source of fiber and protein.

In addition to being super healthy, beets are also really tasty and versatile. They are a great addition to soups, pastas, salads, juices, smoothies, and even make lovely desserts and condiments.

Below are 150 recipes to help you fall in love with beets. If you’re already a beet lover, some of these recipes may be familiar, but there’s also a lot of fun, unique recipes that will have you wanting to eat beets for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Enjoy!

[BREAKFAST]

1. Beet Hashbrowns from The Roasted Root

Photo Credit: The Roasted Root

2. Beet & Chia Pancakes from The New York Times

3. Chocolate Beet Muffins from Cake Student

4. Beet Hash Breakfast Wraps from Reclaiming Provincial

Photo credit: Reclaiming Provincial

5. Pink Breakfast Bowl from Ricki Heller

6. Roasted Beet, Baby Spinach & Goat Cheese Quiche from Food52

7. Red Flannel Hash Cakes from Martha Stewart

8. Beet & Carrot Muffins from Hidden Ponies

9. Breakfast Beet Shakshuka from The Whole Tara

Photo Credit: The Whole Tara

10. Beet Crust Leek Quiche from Prevention

Continue reading

DIY Bloody Mary Kit

This Bloody Mary Kit is a perfect gift for the cocktail lover in your life. It’s easy to put together and makes several tasty & unique bloody marys.

Below is what I put in my Bloody Mary kits, but you can customize yours however you please.

Bloody Mary Kit

  • Black peppercorn infused vodka
  • Garlic & fennel infused vodka
  • Smoked paprika infused vodka
  • Horseradish infused vodka
  • Salt rimming mixture
  • Bloody Mary mix
  • Homemade pickles
  • Other additions: olives, skewers, hot sauce, lemons, or limes

Infused Vodkas

I like to make the infused vodkas a pint at a time so there some left over for more bloody mary kits or personal enjoyment, but you can easily scale these recipes up or down based on how much flavored vodka you want to end up with. Infused vodkas are shelf stable and will keep indefinitely.

Use good quality vodka, spices, and herbs. The vodka certainly doesn’t have to be top shelf, but you don’t want to buy the cheapest stuff at the liquor store either.

Black Peppercorn Infused Vodka

Garlic & Fennel Infused Vodka 

  • 1 pint vodka
  • 2-4 roughly chopped garlic cloves (this will depend on the size of the cloves and how much you like garlic)
  • 1 Tablespoon fennel seed

Smoked Paprika Infused Vodka 

Horseradish Infused Vodka 

  • 1 pint vodka
  • 1 Tablespoon of roughly chopped horseradish root

Directions: 

You will need one glass jar with a lid for each flavor of vodka you are infusing. For each flavor, add the herbs & spices to their separate jars and cover with vodka. Cap tightly and shake well. Label each jar. It helps to include the date on your label so you know how long your vodkas have been infusing.

Shake the jars daily, if you remember. After a week, taste each of your vodkas to test how the flavor is developing. If your vodka isn’t as flavorful as you’d like it to be, re-cap your infusion and let it go longer. Shake and taste it daily for up to a month until it tastes how you want it to. When the flavor is where you want it, strain out your herbs and re-bottle the infused vodka. When I give infused liquors as gifts, I like to put them in these pretty cork top bottles I get from Mountain Rose Herbs. As a finishing touch, label your vodkas.

Salt Rimming Mixture

A rimmed glass adds a little extra pizzaz to any cocktail. The herbs and spices in this mixture are well-suited to a bloody mary and are a tasty addition to the average salt rim. The below recipe makes roughly 1/4 cup of salt rimming mixture and can easily be scaled up or down depending on how much you want to end up with.

Ingredients: 

Directions: 

Powder celery seeds in a blender or in a spice grinder. A coffee grinder works great for powdering spices, but be sure to use one that has not been used to grind coffee beans as it will make your spices smell/taste like coffee, even if it’s clean. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Store in a labeled glass jar. If desired, add the below directions to your label.

To rim your glass when making a bloody mary, moisten the rim of the glass with a lemon or lime slice. Pour a small amount of salt rimming mixture onto a plate and dip the rim of the glass into the salt blend, twirling the glass to coat the rim.

Bloody Mary Mix

If you’re particularly ambitious, you can make your own bloody mary mix. Below are a few recipes to get you started:

If you don’t have the time to make your own mix, there are many options for bottled mixes available. Do take a peek at the ingredients list before buying as many pre-bottled bloody mary mixes are highly processed and can have some weird ingredients. Also, many mixes contain worcestershire sauce, which is made with anchovies, so this will be something to keep an eye out for if you have fish allergies or don’t want to eat fish.

Continue reading

Purple Dead Nettle: Not Just A Weed

Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium Purpureum) is a lovely and useful herbaceous plant. It grows abundantly around our site in Southwest, Michigan and I see it popping up all over this area. It can be found throughout the US, Canada, and many other parts of the world. This hardy weed thrives in lawns, roadsides, and can grow in a variety of conditions. It is also frost tolerant. It is most commonly found growing in loamy or sandy soils, but will also do well in clay soils. It is an self-seeding annual. Each plant produces lots of seeds (it’s estimated to be several hundred to several thousand) and those seeds can germinate year round.

Purple dead nettle is considered to be an “invasive species” due to its ability to thrive and reproduce in many environments. In fact, much of the literature available on this plant is geared towards methods of eradication, including pulling up the herb to control its population. It is interesting to note that purple dead nettle seeds germinate better when the soil is disturbed. “Invasive” plants like purple dead nettle often grow in places where humans have disrupted the natural balance.  These plants are simply trying to restore equilibrium to their environment. When we pull and spray these plants we are further disturbing the areas where they grow and actually increasing their ability to return and spread.

If we care about the environment, should be be attempting to eradicate these species, like purple dead nettle, that have been determined to be invasive? Research shows that meddling with nature isn’t necessary and could cause more harm than good. Tomás Carlo, assistant professor of biology at Penn State, states that “Invasive species could fill niches in degraded ecosystems and help restore native biodiversity in an inexpensive and self-organized way that requires little or no human intervention.”In 2011, he conducted a study on how invasive species affect their ecosystems.  He found that some invasive plants actually helped improve natural areas that had deteriorated due to human use. He stated that attempting to get rid of invasive species could actually harm the newly found balance in these ecosystems. In fact, the areas he studied, for example,have actually had an increase in the native migratory bird population because the invasive plants that grow abundantly there provide an important food source that had previously been displaced by human development. Carlo also stated that trying to eliminate invasive species on a large scale could also be a waste of time and money. He explained that when organizations try to rid an ecosystem of a particular invasive plant, it often ends up growing back despite all of their efforts.

Instead of pulling and spraying these weeds, we can appreciate and utilize them. Invasive plants often play important roles in their ecosystem. For example, purple dead nettle blooms in the early spring and is an valuable food source for insects when not much else is is flowering.  Many invasive plants are also useful to humans and make wonderful food and medicine. They require little to no care as they often occur and thrive naturally in our gardens and yards. These wild edibles can be a great low-maintenance, free food source. Foraging wild greens like purple dead nettle is easier than tending to more fickle commercially grown greens and is certainly cheaper than buying organic greens at the store. If you aren’t sure how to forage purple dead nettles, visit the Edible Wild Food site for more tips on finding and identifying this plant so you too can enjoy this spring green.Always be sure you properly identify a plant before eating it! For more foraging tips, check out our post on foraging spring edibles.

Purple dead nettle can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves have tiny little hairs that some may find strange texturally, but I have found that they aren’t bothersome when the plant is cooked. The leaves taste similar to spinach. When bruised, the plant has a noticeable green, earthy scent. Purple dead nettle leaves are great source of fiber, iron, and other important nutrients. They can be used in recipes much as one would use more conventional greens like kale or spinach.

Continue reading

Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Smoothie


 This tasty smoothie makes a great breakfast. It’s perfect when you’re short on time as it is very easy and quick to make. The peanut butter in this recipe provides protein and fiber to help keep you full. Additionally, both peanut butter and almond milk are a good source of magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, and other important nutrients. 

Bananas pair well with the peanut butter in this smoothie while providing potassium, vitamin C, and many more vitamins and minerals. Maple syrup adds sweetness and can be omitted if you like your smoothie a little less sweet.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of almond milk
  • 2 bananas
  • 3 Tablespoons of natural peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of pure maple syrup

Combine ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. This recipe makes about 4 cups of smoothie. 

Brightening Winter Herbal Tea Blend

20130126-112821.jpg

Around this time of year, it’s easy to get a bad case of the winter blues, especially if you are feeling under the weather. I like to drink this tea when I first start feeling like I’m getting sick to give my immune system a boost. This blend is sure to warm you up, keep you healthy, and brighten your spirits.

The rosemary and St. John’s wort in this blend help to fight winter blues and boost spirits while lemon balm brings a calming effect. Thyme and Echinacea help to prevent and fight infection.

 

To make this tea blend you will need:

-Rosemary
-St. John’s wort
-Thyme
-Echinacea
-Lemon balm
-Honey (optional)
-Lemon juice (optional)

 

Continue reading

Easy Green Morning Smoothie

Some days I am really horrible about getting out of bed in the morning. On days like that, I need something quick and easy for breakfast. Preferably, something that will tide me over til lunch so I am not tempted to eat the doughnuts someone left in the break room at work.

This smoothie is the perfect solution. Quick, easy and naturally low in calories and fat. It’s also a great source of vitamins and minerals making a healthy way to start your morning.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 teaspoons Spirulina*
  • juice of half a lemon (optional)
  • 1-3 sprigs of fresh mint (optional)

Directions:

Add ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour drink into a glass and enjoy.

*Spirulina is a type of algae that adds an extra boost of protein, vitamins, and minerals to this drink. It can be found in most health food stores. It is not, however, an essential ingredient to the smoothie as bananas and spinach will already provide lots of great vitamins and fiber.