Red wonder

Veggie delight
Last Updated 27 February 2013, 15:21 IST

In the family of vegetables, if there’s one member which provides multiple health benefits and can be had in any number of ways, especially raw, that is beetroot. Don’t go by the humble looks and size of this veggie. Beetroot is rich in several vitamins and minerals and can be turned into several tasty dishes including sauces, pickles and desserts.

Beetroot, also known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet, or simply as the beet, is commonly cultivated in North America, Central America and Britain. Its deep red root (that’s the actual vegetable!) is eaten either grilled, roasted, boiled, cooked in curries, raw in salads after adding oil and vinegar or raw and shredded, either alone or combined with any salad vegetable.

A large proportion of commercially cultivated beetroot worldwide is boiled, sterilised and canned into pickles. In Eastern Europe, beet soup, such as borscht, is a popular dish. In our Indian cuisine, beetroot cooked with potatoes, peas and assorted spices is commonly had.

Divya Choudhary, nutritionist, Fortis Shalimar Bagh, informs us, “Beetroot is a rich source of antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium, vitamin C and betaine, which is important for cardiovascular health. Additionally, betaine is proved to protect against liver diseases, particularly the build-up of fatty deposits in the liver caused by alcohol abuse, protein deficiency, diabetes or any other causes.”

“Beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure attributed to its high nitrate content. Besides, it contains iron and folic acid essential for expectant women to have for the healthy development of a baby’s spinal cord. It has silica which helps the body to utilise calcium and reduces the risk of osteoporosis, as well as slow the progression of dementia again thanks to its nitrates.”

Importantly, beetroot has also been considered to be an excellent aphrodisiac since Roman times.

Talking about having beetroot, let’s look at some exotic dishes. Firstly, you can prepare a tasty and healthy juice of beetroot, clementine, grapefruit and raspberry. For starters, you can make Greek-influenced beetroot fritters by mixing cooked beetroots, spring onions, cheese, egg and herbs, season them, mix in breadcrumbs and flour, shape into golfball-size pieces and fry.

In main course, prepare a beetroot risotto or even beetroot pancakes. Beetroot and ginger chocolate brownies make for delicious desserts. Other than that, prepare Beetroot halva by cooking grated beetroot in milk, add sugar and ghee, add cardamom, raisins and cashews and serve hot.

(Published 27 February 2013, 15:21 IST)

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