Friday, April 8, 2011

Baked beet and black beans with pork

Baked beet and black beans with pork is slow food made in the old-fashioned way. A ceramic bean pot or dutch oven is required for slow baking in a hot oven. The combination of flavours creates a subtle undertone of sweetness that urges your diners to ask for second helpings. Mmmm-mmmm, it will be delicious with your smoked Easter ham.

Baked beet and black beans with pork

Baked beet and black beans with pork is a meal in itself, full of the health benefits of beets and beans, including an abundance of protein, dietary fibre, calcium, and other minerals.

Set oven to 460℉  (240℃)
Cooking time: approximately 4 hours
                                                            Yield: 8 - 10 servings


1 cup dried black beans
2-3 cups water for soaking

6 dried shiitakes
1 cup water for soaking

1 medium beet root, 5 cm. (2.5 in.) in diameter
1 cup diced red onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1 cup lean ground pork
1½ cup diced tomatoes in tomato juice
1 tablespoon old-fashioned prepared mustard
2 tablespoons raw molasses
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
3-4 grinds of black pepper corns

Dried black beans

1. Wash black beans.  Drain and discard the water. Place beans in a lidded container. Cover beans with 2 - 3 cups water. Cover with lid and leave to soak overnight. 

2. Place shiitakes in a lidded container. Cover with warm water and leave to soak overnight. 

Clockwise: shiitake, diced tomatoes in tomato juice
soaked black beans, and red onion

3. When assembling ingredients, drain the shiitake liquid into a separate container and reserve for later use in cooking. Slice the stems off the shiitakes and store them in the freezer for another time when making stock. Thinly slice the shiitake. place them into the bean pot.

4. Slice and dice red onion, and mince the garlic cloves. Add to the bean pot.

5. Drain water from soaking black beans into a separate container and reserve for later use in cooking. Add beans to the bean pot.

Grated raw beet

6. Wash, thinly peel, and coarsely grate the beet.  Add to bean pot.

7. Measure lean ground pork. Loosen the mince and mix the pork into the ingredients in the bean pot.

8. Add tomatoes, mustard, molasses, apple cider vinegar, pepper, cinnamon and cloves. Mix into ingredients in the bean pot.

9. Add strained liquid reserved from soaking shiitake. If ingredients are not covered with liquid, add strained liquid reserved from soaking black beans but only sufficient to just cover the ingredients.

10. Place in oven at 460℉ ( 240℃) for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 425℉  (220℃) and bake for 3 - 4 hours. 

Test the beans for done-ness after 60 minutes. To test, remove one bean from the pot and squish it with an ordinary table fork. If completely soft, the beans are cooked as is everything else in the bean pot, so remove the pot from the oven. Most likely, the baked beet and beans will require at least another hour or two of baking at 425℉. This depends upon a number of factors, including the elevation above sea level where you live; even more than 4 hours of baking time could be required. In any case, bake covered until the beans are soft. Keep the contents covered with liquid by adding strained liquid from soaking the black beans, or use plain hot water.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gingered beet juice

Beet juice is said to be a liver cleanser (especially beneficial for treating a condition known as fatty liver). Ginger improves digestion and boosts the circulation of fluids.

Gingered beet juice

This beet juice seems a bit counter-intuitive, but do try it before you decide it isn't for you. It tastes sweet, earthy and a bit fiery because of the fresh ginger. 

The mouthfeel of this beet juice is clean from the slight astringency of the Canada Dry™ ginger ale. If you choose to use Jamaican ginger beer instead, leave out the fresh ginger. Otherwise, you may find this juice to be too sharp and bitter.

                                                  Yield: 1 serving

1 small beet root
1 cm. (½-in.) chunk fresh ginger root, peeled
1 cup Canada Dry™ ginger ale


1. Wash the beet and ginger.

2. Cut the beet into small chunks. Put these and the ginger through the juicer.

3. Strain the juice into a glass. Top it up with ginger ale.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Nutritional value of beets - Part 14: Swiss chard

Swiss chard leaf

Swiss chard, or simply 'chard', is part of the beet family (beta vulgaris). Indeed, beet greens and Swiss chard are often said to be the best-of-the-best high-quality, nutrient-dense super foods available. 

Chard is eaten for its leaves, not the root.  The leaves were the main value of beets, also, a few thousand years ago; however, over time, we have come to use the beet root as well. 

Swiss chard is known by other names: mangold, crab beet, silverbeet, spinach beet, perpetual spinach, and seakale beet. The latter, seakale, is often said to be the original plant which, through cultivation, gave rise to the modern beet root. Seakale can still be found growing wild in some areas by the Mediterranean Sea.

The name Swiss chard appears to have originated only in the nineteenth century. It is believed by some that the moniker Swiss was added to the name chard in order to distinguish chard from the French word for spinach. I doubt this since that word is epinard. More likely, 'Swiss' distinguishes this chard from another similar plant name pronounced much like chard at that time, perhaps carde, which was the French name for another chard-like vegetable, cardoon. Cardoon somewhat resembles celery but is related to artichokes.

Swiss chard is found to be a rich source of Vitamins A, C and K, plus dietary fibre, minerals, protein, carotenoids, and folic acid. When eaten raw, it is an excellent source of enzymes.

This Table contains only those values for nutrients present in the highest quantities in chard. For a more extensive list of nutrients and their associated values, please refer to the USDA National Nutrient database.

The nutritional values of Swiss chard are most abundantly represented in the following listed vitamins, phyto-nutrients and minerals:

Swiss chard: raw and cooked
Measure: 1 cup (36g)raw [7 calories] 
                1 cup (175g) cooked [35 calories]

Nutrient value
 Nutrient value
2202 IU
10717 IU
10.8 mg
31.5 mg
298.8 mcg
572.8 mcg
18 mg
102 mg
29 mg
150 mg
136 mg
961 mg
77 mg
313 mg
Lutein + zeaxanthin
3960 mcg
19276 mcg
1313 mcg
6391 mcg

IU = International Units; mg = milligram; mcg = microgram

Some food writers warn that Swiss chard is an unhealthy vegetable choice because it has a substantial sodium content. Obviously, these writers have not thought this through. When you examine the table above, you see that the sodium content is more than balanced by the potassium content. The sodium/potassium pump is well provisioned by Swiss chard.

No Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is provided. For a broad overview of one of the new, incomplete standard measures that have replaced the RDA, check out Dietary Reference Intake .

Recipes using Swiss chard:

If you found this post useful, you may also wish to follow these links to find additional information on the health benefits of beets:

Table of nutritional values of raw beet root

Phyto-nutrients: betaine

Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL)

Table of nutritional values of raw beet greens
Vitamin A (Beet greens - raw)
Vitamin C (Beet greens - raw)
Vitamin K (Beet greens - raw)
Potassium (Beet greens - raw)
Magnesium (Beet greens - raw)
Manganese (Beet greens - raw)
Table of nutritional values of cooked beet root