Saturday, February 12, 2011

Beet, carrot and blueberry smoothie

Beet , carrot and blueberry smoothie
Yield: 1 smoothie

This beet smoothie contains roughage, i.e., blueberry seeds, so the word 'smoothie' is a misnomer. However, I don't know what else to call it ;-) If the water is omitted, it may be thick -- depending upon how juicy the vegetables and berries are;  that is, it may be like a pudding and, therefore, would need to be eaten by spoon. The fresh mint garnish bursts in the mouth against the concentrated flavour of the beet-carrot-blueberry mixture.

Beet, carrot and blueberries

Ingredients: (all quantities are approximate)

1 small beet, washed, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, washed, peeled and chopped
1 handful, or more, fresh blueberries, washed
1teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup water
Garnish: fresh mint (optional)


1. Place chopped vegetables and the blueberries into a blender together with oil and water. 

Beet, carrot and blueberries in blender flask

2. Blend on 'High' until mixture is pureed.

3. Pour into a cold glass tumbler, .garnish with fresh mint, and insert drinking straw.

Beet, carrot and blueberry smoothie

Friday, February 11, 2011

Beet and Oka cheese salad

This raw beet salad makes a wonderful and complete snack. It has all the ingredients necessary for a brunch or mid-afternoon pick-me-up since it contains protein, complex carbohydrates and the oil essential for all-round nutrition.

                                                                                                              Yield: 1 serving
Raw beet, carrot, celery, blueberries and Oka cheese

Oka cheese, a product of Quebec, Canada, is widely available all across Canada. Information about the product is available at and many other sites as well. Of course, you may use a substitute, preferably another soft, buttery cheese.


1/2 cup grated raw beet
shavings of raw carrot
Oka cheese
sprig of celery leaves
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
squeeze of fresh lime juice


1. Thoroughly wash beet, celery, blueberries and carrot. 

2. Peel beet and carrot. 

3. Grate about 1/2 cup of the beet. Pare shavings from the carrot.

4.  Slice 3 thin slices of Oka cheese and lay them on the salad plate. Add grated beet and carrot shavings. Add celery leaves and blueberries.

5. Dribble olive oil over the assembled salad and sprinkle with fresh lime juice.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Beet and pumpkin soup with shrimp

This beet soup has Asian leanings which are easily identified by the use of lemon grass, ginger, oyster sauce and (optional) Madras curry powder. There is a bit of heat in it but it is ameliorated by the coconut milk. This beet and pumpkin soup is a meal in itself when accompanied by a sour dough, old-fashioned rye, or whole wheat bread.

Beet, pumpkin, parsley, ginger, lemon grass, and coconut milk

This beet soup recipe requires a slow cooker and a blender. 

                                                                               Yield: 4 small or 2 large servings
Ingredients: (all quantities are approximate)

3 cups of frozen chopped pumpkin
1 beet
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup beet stock or chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon oyster sauce
1teaspoon finely chopped frozen lemon grass 
or 1 stalk fresh lemon grass, roughly  chopped
9 thin slices fresh ginger
4 - 5 sprigs of freeze-dried or fresh parsley, whole
¼ teaspoon brown sugar, packed
24 - 48 frozen, cooked shrimp, shelled, deveined
½ teaspoon Madras curry powder (optional)


1. Place chopped pumpkin into slow cooker. Set slow cooker on the "High" setting. 

2. Thoroughly scrub beet under running water. Peel. Chop into a small dice and add to pumpkin.

3. If fresh lemon grass is used, bruise and chop it into 5 cm. (2 in.) lengths, then add to the beet and pumpkin mixture. Otherwise, add sufficient frozen lemon grass to equal approximately 1 teaspoon.

4. Peel and finely slice ginger. Add to slow cooker along with coconut milk, stock, oyster sauce parsley and brown sugar. If using curry powder, now is the time to add it. Stir. Cover and leave to cook for about 2 hours, then reduce the heat to low for another hour.

Chopped beet and vegetables in coconut milk

5.  If fresh lemon grass was used, now is the time to fish out the chunks. Discard them. Either transfer the contents of of the slow cooker to a blender or use an electric hand-held blender stick to blend the contents into a thin puree. Return the puree to the slow cooker to reheat and keep it hot.

6. Defrost the shrimp.

7. Ladle the steaming soup into bowls and add ¼ or ½ of the defrosted shrimp to each bowl.

Beet and pumpkin soup with shrimp

Monday, February 7, 2011

The nutritional value of beets: Part 3 - Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

Beets are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and they are high in fibre, making them a valuable addition to a healthy, nutritious diet. But what about their scary GI?

Beets, the GI Cinderella
For the purpose of the Glycemic Index (GI), warnings have been forthcoming that beets are high in sugar and should be avoided. It is true that when we examine the bare facts (provided by the USDA National Nutrient database), the data look scary.

Nutrient value
Percentage of RDA

45 cal
9.56 g
1.61 g
Total fat
0.17 g
0 mg
Dietary fibre
2.8 g
6.76 g

Really? That many calories in 100 grams (about half a cup) of raw beets? That much sugar?

When we examine the data above, we find that the combined totals of dietary fibre and of sugar are equal to the total of carbohydrates. We need to examine what those quantities signify and, when we do, we'll discover that beets have been victims of bad press because the real story is all about good stuff, i.e., complex carbohydrates and dietary fibre, not about sugar.

But first, we need to wrap our heads around two terms: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load.

(1) Glycemic Index (GI): This is a measure, on a numerical scale, of the rate at which blood sugar level is elevated when a food is consumed. 

There are two types of GI. One, the original, is based upon the consumption of glucose, a simple carbohydrate. The GI value of glucose = 100. The second is based upon the consumption of white bread. Eating this starch, which is another simple carbohydrate and which is made of refined white flour, elevates the blood sugar level even more quickly than does taking glucose. The GI value given to white bread is also 100. 

This makes the GI confusing because one really must know which food is the base measure before the GI value can be meaningful. Frequently, no indication of the base food is given when GI is discussed. For us at this juncture, it is sufficient to know that a food's GI is measured against one of these carbohydrate standards and that the higher the GI is the more quickly blood sugar levels will be elevated.That's the theory, anyway.

Using the GI standard based upon glucose, beets (the roots, raw and fresh) rate a GI of 64. That's scariness of the moderate to high kind.

But there's something else one needs to know before relegating beets to the Off-Limits Fat-Blob No-No Bin along with the chocolate cake, doughnuts, deep-fried chicken, and ice cream, and that is the Glycemic Load.

(2) Glycemic Load (GL): This is the measure, again on a numerical scale, of carbohydrate in a quantity of food. There are three categories of GL: high, medium, and low.

High = 20 or greater
Medium = 11 - 19
Low = 10 or less

While beets have a high GI (64), they have a GL of 5, which is low

Why is this true? It is because, while the carbohydrate value of ½ cup of raw beets is 9.56 g., and that carbohydrate has a high GI, there isn't much of it in beets. Why? Because beets are high in dietary fibre.

When ingesting the bare GI and GL facts, we need to take into account other facts behind these data. And the most telling facts we need to know are:

(a) the more complex the carbohydrate's structure is, the more difficult or impossible it is to digest.
(b)  dietary fibre is carbohydrate composed of sugar attached to other molecules in complex structures that are impossible to digest.

Therefore, although beets are high in sugar, a significant quantity of that sugar cannot be released into our blood system because it is locked into indigestible dietary fibre. 

This makes the health benefits of beets fairly obvious, and it shoos away the scariness of the bad press that beets have received.

See also: