The temptation is no doubt great. You take your large knife, slice off the woody stems of a bunch of beets, and toss them, along with their leafy greens, into the trash. Before you do so, I strongly encourage you to reconsider.
When cooked properly, not only are they delicious, but they’re nutritious as well, “Beet greens are emerging as a nutritional powerhouse, rich in potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, betacyanin (a potent antioxidant), leutin, thiamin, riboflavin, folate and vitamins , A, B6, C, E, and K. In fact, researchers discovered that beet greens are even more nutritious than the roots!”
Having purchased a couple of bunches of beets at the local farmer’s market, I thought I’d give the greens a try. After searching for, and finding, a number of recipes that seemed tasty and easy to prepare (and gluten-free), I settled on Sauteed Beet Greens with Garlic, Olive Oil and Persian Lime by Heidi on Melissas.com. I loved them, even the leftovers, which I proceeded to eat cold the next day.
If this particular recipe doesn’t appeal to you, I came across two others that might: Beet Greens from Simply Recipes (bacon, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, and cider vinegar) and Sauteed Beet Greens With Garlic and Olive Oil (garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes) from the Fitness and Nutrition section of The New York Times.
Try them. You just might like them.
A quick addendum – in case you’ve never previously cooked the beets themselves, here’s what I do and it works like a charm. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees ( a bit higher if your oven runs cool). Trim the beets (keeping the greens, of course!) and wash, skin on, under cold water. Place the beet roots in aluminum foil, making a tent. Drizzle with a quarter-cup of water, and then fold the foil over, creating seal. Place on a cookie sheet (or another piece of foil) to catch any juices and then into the oven for 60 minutes. You’ll smell the beets cooking. Test with a fork to see if they’re done – the fork should go in easily (larger beets will take longer to cook). If they’re done, re-fold the foil and let cool on top of the stove. Then open the foil and peel the beets – the skin should rub off. If it doesn’t a paring knife should do the trick. Slice the beets and serve with goat cheese, walnuts, olive oil, salt, and pepper, alone or on a bed of arugula or spinach.
Yesterday, a variety of news organizations reported on a study conducted by the University of Montreal and Harvard University, and published in the journal Pediatrics, linking exposure to common organophosphate pesticides, used to grow conventional fruits and vegetables, to an increased risk of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. “[T]he investigation found a connection between exposure pesticides and the presence of symptoms of ADHD.” This was alarming, to say the least, and, no doubt, left countless parents wondering what exactly they should be feeding their children.
Enter the Environmental Working Group. Today, they released their 2010 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. What does the guide include? A list of 12 conventional fruits and vegetables that, when tested by the US Department of Agriculture Pesticide Testing program, as they would typically be eaten – after being washed or peeled – were determined to be contaminated with the highest level of pesticides. This group is known as the “Dirty Dozen.” What sorts of fruits and vegetables are on the Dirty Dozen list? Apples, bananas, blueberries, spinach, bell peppers. Also included in the guide, as a result of the same testing program, is the list of the “Clean 15″ – those fruits and vegetables with the lowest levels of pesticides. What are some of the Clean 15? Onions, avocado, grapefruit, watermelon, and sweet potato.
The message? Whenever possible, when it comes to the Dirty Dozen, buy organic – if you want to pick-and-choose where to spend the extra money on organic, this list points you in the right direction. Secondly, buy from the list of Clean 15. According to the EWG, “You can lower your pesticide consumption by nearly four-fifths by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and instead eating the least contaminated produce.” And, always thoroughly scrub all fruits and vegetables, even frozen.
Your children will thank you, and you’ll feel better too.
This week’s Tip of the Week is another great tool for shopping and eating seasonally.
You select the month (the map defaults to the current month) and then click on your state. The map provides a list of fresh produce for your particular area. You can follow the list further for shopping tips and recipes for those specific fruits and vegetables. For example, if you live in Illinois, and you click on your state, you’ll receive a list of produce which will include the often under-appreciated leek. Click on “Leeks” and you’ll have the option to “View the ingredient description” taking you to the Epicurious Food Dictionary. The description includes the origin of leeks, a physical description for identification purposes, and how to buy and store them. I love this. Your second option from the map is to “View Recipes.” The Search Results for leeks yield 52 recipes, including Risotto with Leeks, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Truffles, as well as Smoked Salmon and Leek Scramble with Meyer Lemon Creme Fraiche. How could you resist?
There really is no excuse for not eating your fruits and vegetables.
Welcome to May. The weather is warming up. The trees are in full-bloom. The unofficial start to summer is just a few weeks away. And here’s what’s in season this month:
Artichokes, Asparagus, Broccoli, Lettuce, Okra, Rhubarb, Spring Peas
Apricots, Cherries, Pineapples
This month I offer two delicious dessert recipes. Both are from recently discovered, and now favorite, food blogs. These food writers/photographers (one east coast and one west) present their recipes with stories, which I like … a lot, because I like stories … a lot. You may already have them bookmarked, but if not, you’ll likely do so after perusing their sites.