It seems that everyone has a different definition of what constitutes healthy food. Some people focus primarily on the calories and believe a healthy food is a low-calorie food. Others look at nutrients and determine how healthy a food is by calculating how many vitamins it has versus how much fat, sugar and sodium it has. While these factors are undoubtedly important, it can get a little taxing to always figure out where on the calorie or nutrient scale your food item falls, let alone how it fits into an overall healthy diet.
At our house we have been trying to take a simpler route when it comes to eating healthy. We aim to eat a diet with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and not as much processed foods. While we don’t always achieve this goal, and quite honestly we enjoy a good processed food product from time to time, so far we’ve found it to be both more realistic and more natural to focus on these simple steps. We plan to explore both the opportunities and challenges to eating a diet rich in produce and whole grains as the blog progresses, as well as some other ways of thinking about “healthy” foods. In the meantime, we’ll start our explorations with the advice of two well-known authors who have written extensively on food and healthy living…
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” –Michael Pollen
“Eat less, move more, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, go easy on junk foods.” –Marion Nestle
Our First Healthy Recipe
Beets. Yes, those hairy little root vegetables. Despite having a higher sugar content than other vegetables, they are low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately, many people (myself included) think that preparing beets is a somewhat lengthy and messy process. Because of this I normally shy away from buying them at the store. However, when I opened up my most recent CSA box (community supported agriculture box–which we’ll talk about in our next post), there were four little beets staring up at me, begging to be cooked. They came complete with their beet green tops and long rat-tail-like roots. Yum.
I had planned to prepare both the beetroots and greens, but the greens were a little too wilted by the time I got around to making them. So I was left with only the deep reddish purple beetroots to prepare. Wanting to try something new and avoid staining every inch of myself and my kitchen with beet juice, I decided to try a trick I read about in a New York Times article on beets. In the article they peeled and cut up the beets into bite-sized pieces before roasting them, claiming that this would cut down on both stains and cooking time.
While preparing the beets for this recipe I still managed to get beet juice on my shirt, kitchen rug, fingers and cutting board. However, as they mentioned in the article, unlike cooked beet juice, the raw beet juice all washed away pretty easily. I ended up with roasted beets with slightly caramelized edges that I thought tasted better and took a lot less time to prepare than roasting whole beets. I paired the roasted beets with a few crumbles of creamy herbed goat cheese and topped it all with some toasted pine nuts.
Simple Roasted Beets
4 medium beets
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash, peel and cut the beets into roughly 1-inch cubes. Toss beets with oil and salt and pepper.
Spread beets on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 400° for 30 minutes or until beets are tender and have caramelized or browned around the edges.
Roasted beets can be topped with goat cheese and nuts or a tangy vinaigrette. They also would go well in a grain salad or green salad.