Thursday, January 14, 2010

Week B - Gimme a Beet in your Juice!

Gimme a beet!
I was excited to hear about beet juice during my uncle Ted's visit to California last month. He and his compadre were hell bent to find rich red beet root juice, as they were preparing for the Sacramento marathon.
Recent studies have found a miraculous effect on oxygen consumption, and hence endurance performance. A natural version of steroids? Beet juice is cooling to the blood. These nitrate rich foods can enhance exercise endurance. Beet root juice taste has a stimulating effect not only upon the nerves of the tongue but also on the nerves in the intestines. Beets clean and build blood, improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, fights cancer, cleans intestines and improves menstrual problems.
*Do not be alarmed to find a red hue to your urine or feces after ingesting red beets. If you find you struggle with a slow metabolism, this is a good way to see how long it takes for your body to digest food.*

Delicious Beet Juice

1 beetroot (the small ones are sweeter)
2 apples
1 stalk celery
1" ginger root


Wash the vegetables using water and a stiff vegetable brush.

1) Remove the carrot and beetroot tops, and peel the beetroot if its skin is tough. If it has a nice thin skin then just cut off the top.

2) Slice up the vegetables to fit your juicer.

3) Juice and serve.

The green beetroot tops are edible, rich in beta-carotene, and can also be juiced. They have a strong flavour and are rich in oxalic acid which if taken in excess may form kidney stones. I find a little goes a long way.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Week B - Gimme a Beet! Risotto

Beets are a magical food. Lucky for us Northern Californians, beets are available year round. For the rest of the country, June through October are peak months. Beets are a part of the Chard and Spinach family. Unlike many other root vegetables, you can eat both the greens and root. Beets add gorgeous color to any dish. You will find red, golden, white and the Italian heirloom Chioga beet that is red and white striped on the inside.
Beets have been used since the ancient times. They have been known for their cleansing qualities in the liver, for kidney stones, gallbladder, stomach and intestines. Beets are high in antioxidants. The powerful red color, betacyanin, is a powerful cancer fighting agent. Beets are known to aid the lymphatic system as well as aid digestion. Beets tone the blood and build red blood cells. If you struggle with anemia red beets are at your service.
They can be used for both sweet and savory cooking styles. You can even eat beets raw due to their high sugar content. Try them spiralized in a salad or as raw noodles. In the recipe below we will discover how to naturally color our food with whole ingredients. Beets are just one of the many natural coloring agents.

In the recipe below is cut into sections. Recipe total time approximately 1.5 hours.

Beet Risotto with Hazelnuts and Herb Goat Cheese

Serves 6-8
Roasted Beet Mixture
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium red beets, leave skin on, cut stems down to one inch (so the beets do not bleed while roasting)
1 large shallot, chopped fine
1 tsp orange zest, chopped fine or use micro plane
1 tsp basil, dried spice
to taste sea salt
to brighten lemon or orange juice, fresh squeezed

1) Preheat oven to 375F. Individually wrap each beet in foil and place on sheet pan.
2) Bake for approximately 40-50 minutes, or until your knife can slice into the center of the largest beet.
3) Once beets are cooked through, remove from foil and let cool for 10 minutes.
4) Heat medium sauce pan with olive oil. Add shallots and cook for approximately 1 minute or until translucent. Meanwhile rough chop the beets and add to shallots. Stir occasionally. After 1-2 minutes, add orange zest, basil and sea salt. Optional: to brighten the flavor, add a squeeze of lemon or orange juice. Mix together for 30 seconds and remove from heat.
5) Use food processor with S blade to puree the beet mixture until smooth. Set aside until risotto is ready.
Basic Risotto

2 Tbsp olive oil or unsalted organic butter
1 large shallot, chopped fine
2 cups Aborio rice, do not rinse rice
6 cups vegetable stock, recipe below
3/4 cup dry white wine or dry sherry
1 tsp lemon zest, mince or use micro plane
to taste sea salt, fine
to taste black pepper, ground fine

1) Heat vegetable stock on medium low heat in separate sauce pan.
2) In a heavy large sauce pan, heat olive oil or butter over low-medium heat and add shallots. Stir occasionally until shallots become translucent in about 2-3 minutes. Increase the heat of the pan and add aborio rice to shallots. Stir regularly to keep rice from browning. Stir until the rice has a nice white center and appears chalky for about 4-5 minutes.
3) Add a third of the dry white wine and continue stirring until wine has absorbed into the rice. With a ladle, add in 1/2 cup of vegetable stock and stir continuously until it absorbs into rice. Repeat this step until there is one ladle of stock left, set aside. The rice should be firm in the center, and the risotto has a nice creamy buttery flavor and texture. It should not be runny like soup. Let set for 2 minutes while combining the beet mix with hazelnut flour.
Adding a beet to your risotto step:

2 Tbsp hazelnut flour
complete beet mixture
complete basic risotto
1/2 C vegetable stock
garnish per plate:
1 Tbsp crumbled herb goat cheese
1 Tbsp roasted hazelnuts, rough chop
1 Tbsp basil, chiffonade (place leaves in pile, roll up and slice thin. You should have ribbon like pieces.)

1) In a mixing bowl, add the pureed beet mixture with the hazelnut flour, and mix gently.
2) Add the mixture to the risotto and stir until completely combined. Your risotto should have a beautiful deep purple-red hue. Gorgeous!!!

To serve:
In 4" diameter ramekin or shallow bowl lightly pack the risotto. Over dinner plate turn over and let the risotto mold onto the plate. Top with crumbled goat cheese, basil, then finish with the hazelnuts. There you have a brilliantly colorful plate!

How to make a rich flavored vegetable stock (not from the box):
**It is really important to use organic foods.

5 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns, whole
3 organic carrots, rough chop large, peel on
3 stalks celery, rough chop
2-3 onions, rough chop into quarters
6 stems parsley, leaves and stems
3 stems thyme, left on stem
distilled water

1) Use large heavy bottom stock pot. Leave enough room to add vegetables. Add all your
ingredients and fill the water almost to the top. I like to use leek leaves as a natural cover
while cooking down the stock.
A good rule of thumb is approximately 3/4 of water to half vegetables.
2) Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about and hour to hour and a half.
3) Using a sieve or mesh strainer, strain the vegetables delicately into a separate large bowl.
Toss the vegetables into compost.

*When I know I will need a vegetable stock for cooking I keep a plastic bag or container next to me for veggie scraps that might work for a stock, and put it in the freezer until ready to use. Here are a few I might recommend:
green onion or leek leaves, onion scraps, shallots, lemon or orange peels, carrot ends, some use turnips, potatoes, garlic, chives, spinach, mushrooms (make a great dark stock), if you like small amounts of tomatoes, bell peppers...
What not to use: Highly recommend not using the cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Asparagus can also be too strong for a delicate vegetable stock.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Week A - Miracles of Apples Cider Vinegar

The Miracles of Apple Cider Vinegar

I have always enjoyed using raw organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) in my cooking. It is a miracle worker with so many uses. It not only adds a sweet tart flavor to your dish, but the health benefits behind it is exactly why we should all take the time to understand our food better. Recently, the Bragg's Family Book on Apple Cider Vinegar came to our home. I learned that ACV is the cure all for almost everything!! After reading the book there is no doubt Apple Cider Vinegar is a healer with a mountain of power behind it.

During this cold season, I picked up one of the nasty colds flying around. My cough became painful. I was curious to see if there was anything I could do with ACV to help with the cough. Yes, there is a remedy for a sore throat using ACV.

Cold Remedy:

2 tsp raw organic Apple Cider Vinegar
8 oz water, boiled
1 tsp honey or to taste

1) Mix together and enjoy a sweet throat soother at least three times or more a day. It will break up the mucus.

The Bragg's family also recommends, for optimal health, to drink ACV three times a day starting first thing in the morning, mid morning and mid afternoon for a healthy pick me up, with the same remedy only using cold water.

The Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, dating back to 400 B.C. was known to use two remedies with Apple Cider Vinegar and honey. The technique of making ACV is very strict science. The ripe apples go through a stringent process of fermentation to create the unfiltered "mother" that nurtures and protects your entire body's system.

How Apple Cider Vinegar keeps us strong:
ACV is a proprietor of vitamins, beta-carotene, pectin and vital minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, chlorine, sulphur, iron, and fluorine.

ACV has been known to help decrease cancer cell counts, sore throats, balance your body's pH, digestive aid, normalize weight control, cholesterol, joint pain, healthy skin, blood pressure and heart disease and hangover's. Not to mention uses topically can aid diaper rash, varicose veins, bruises jelley fish stings. Just to name a few!

By starting the day off with your ACV morning cocktail, you will feel your body's buzz! Its even stated to help if you suffer from constipation, which is a prime cause of many different diseases. Over 80% of Americans suffer from yeast overgrowth, Candida, due to all the acidic foods adn prescription drugs we consume. Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar contains alkalizing properties. This live vinegar will flush toxins out of your body and creates a healthy glow!!

To find out more check out the Bragg's Live Food web site:
**Always do research to make sure your consumption is appropriate.**