Our final beet blog! Some of you are very happy to moving on to a new veggie. I base this on how many times I’ve been asked in the last week - So what’s next month’s vegetable?
To wrap up there are just a few more important things to consider when choosing and preparing beets.
First, picking out the best beets. For all those gardeners out there, freshly picked beets will keep for months not washed in the refrigerator.
However if you are going to the store the best beets to pick are usually those with the leafy greens still attached. This is a sure sign of freshness. Make sure not to throw away those fresh leaf greens! They are great to add raw to a salad or saute or even make chips out of. (See the recipe below.)
If using the greens cut just 1 inch above the stem, wash and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. The greens are pretty hearty and will store for a couple of weeks. (Leaving an inch of the stem on helps to keep the beets from bleeding.)
The beet root itself can be stored loosely in plastic in the refrigerator. The longer beets are stored they become less sweet and the skin is tougher to deal with.
The size of beets may make a difference. Smaller ones tend to be a little sweeter but harder to peel. Very large ones can be less tender so look for medium sized beets when shopping.
When ready to use, I scrub the beets with a potato brush. Do not remove the skins until after cooking. This helps to keep some nutrients. To remove the skin I used a paper towel to gently pull the skins off once the beets have cooled enough to handle. This saves my hands from turning red. You can also peel them but you may want to use gloves.
Another good trick is to cover your cutting board with parchment paper when slicing beets. This will save your cutting board from turning red.
For our final beet blog we have two recipes! First up pickled beets. Followed by Beet Green Chips.
One of the favorite ways many of my clients enjoy beets is pickled. I had several comments that their favorite recipe for beets came from their grandmother. So, I asked one of my clients for their grandma's recipe.
Take note, no matter what pickling recipe I looked at for beets they all contained a fair amount of sugar.
So don’t write to me about the amount of sugar. I’ve been saying for years if your grandmother didn’t eat it neither should you. Therefore, if grandma ate and made pickled beets made with sugar maybe we should give it a try. Plus, I can’t imagine many people sit down and eat an entire jar of pickled beets! If you do.....Wow!
Paula’s Grandma’s recipe
Cook beets in jackets, with stem & root attached, in saucepan with water. To test doneness, rub the beet with the side of a fork. Skin should peel away. (If you poke them, they will bleed). Cool until you can handle them and slip the skins off. Cut in quarters or slices. Set aside.
1 C sugar
1 C water
1 C vinegar
1 T lemon juice or 2 or 3 lemon slices
Heat until sugar is dissolved. Drop in cut beets and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Put beets in jar and pour hot liquid over them.
This is enough liquid for about 2-3 pints. Store for 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.
Beet Green chips
Beet greens have a lot of health benefits. So make sure to not throw them away! They are high in protein, fiber, vitamin K, B6, and A, magnesium and potassium to name just a few.
Since the leaves remind me of the toughness of kale I thought they might make a good chip.
I love kale chips, they are very yummy! If you feel that way then you will definitely like these beet green chips.
The prep and cooking is just like making kale chips.
First start with washing the leaves and then leaving them out to dry on paper towels for several hours.
This allows the leaves to completely dry. This is an important step! If you were to bake them while still a little wet then the leaves would steam instead of bake. Causing them to be soggy rather than crispy.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Next place parchment on a two cookie sheets. Lay out the leave on the cookie sheet. Next I spray the leaves with olive oil from a spray bottle. Flip the leaves over and repeat. (You can also toss the leaves with 1- 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl.)
Next add seasoning to both sides of the leaf. I used salt and pepper on one sheet. On the other I used Trader Joe's Umami seasoning blend. This is one of my favorite seasonings to use for roasting vegetables.
Place the cookie sheets in the oven for 10 minutes. Gently flip the leaves over and cook for another 10-15 minutes until they are crispy.
Make sure to keep an eye on these as they can burn quickly!
Let cool and enjoy! Store in a glass container. These will keep for 5 days.
To recap beets are helpful with..
To Wrap up my thoughts on Beets…
Next month: Celeriac aka Celery Root!
Jason's thought after trying out Beet juice to help with athletic performance....
Juicing itself is a pretty well documented and solid idea when it comes to getting a strong nutrient balance into our bodies. As a juice-able food source, beets aren't too bad of a choice. It's a sweet vegetable and generally tastes similar to doing carrots although a little more so in terms of sweet-ness. To offset a little with some tangy citrus flavor, Hillary added an orange.
It was proposed by the experts that one should consume the beet juice 2 hours before a workout.
Workout number 1 - I drank the juice mid morning as I was going running later. At that point in the day I had not eaten since breakfast about 2.5 hours earlier. On a basically empty stomach with no protein the juice gave me a pretty good glucose shock. About an hour or so later I started getting pretty jittery and did not feel like working out at that time. I chomped on some chicken as soon as I could and waited a little while. The run was fine after I balanced out a little, I did not feel supercharged though.
The sugars in this drink should be paired with either a protein powder or a lean protein source in my opinion.
Workout Number 2 - Followed my own advice, in addition to breakfast, when I later drank the beet juice I also ate a little bit of protein with it and about a teaspoon of protein powder, not much. Two hours later, I did not feel the jitters and started into my weight training session. All was fine and I did feel pretty good for about the first 45 minutes of my workout. The last 10 minutes I definitely started to feel the same jittery feeling from before but not quite as bad. I also knew that after I was done I would be able to eat my lunch right away.
Bottom line, I happened to read an article that came up for me from a guy who also was drinking beet juice before a half marathon. The difference there is he drank every day for a week leading up to the event and also did moderate to little training. I think that if I were to do the same and drink every day for a week with proper pairing I probably would have been able to see some benefit.
This guy claimed that he matched previous times despite having not done a proper training lead up. That might be so, I think that beet juice is good, and it's good for you. I think whatever benefit it might provide would really only be noticeable to someone invested in higher levels of performance. Weekend warriors or folks whose only 'event' is Bloomsday each year probably won't notice.
Beet juice is tasty, but there are a couple of things to be aware of in my opinion.
1. the glucose dump that you'll get might mess you up and if you're sensitive it might be a problem.
2. a day or so later you have to remember that you drank the beet juice, otherwise you'll think you are dying from ebola. FUN!
I’m not going to lie this month has been a little rough to blog about and to eat so many beets. However, researching beets and learning about their health benefits has motivated me to add them into our diet.
To continue this learning process today we look at the pigment in beets called betalain. Which is named after the red beet (beta vulgaris)
Here is what betalain can potential help with:
Inflammation: All studies stated that this needs to be further researched, however, what has been found so far has been promising. For example, one study looked at using betalain-rich beet concentrate to reduce pain for individuals with knee pain. It showed that the individuals had reduced pain while taking the supplement. (2) Other studies have found betalains to have a high antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties. (1.)
Detoxification: Betalains also help the body to detoxify by increasing enzymes supporting the liver. They aide in improving enzymatic activity and to stimulating bile flow. When the liver is supported then other functions in the body can improve, such as; helping energy levels, hormone balance, and cholesterol regulation.
Anti-cancer properties: Most of the studies to date have been done on rats or human cells but based on these studies beets can help to reduce tumor cell growth. One study in particular looked at prostate and breast cancer and beet extract was found to reduce the growth of cells. (3.)
This week's recipe is Red Flannel Hash. A veggie recipe that can definitely be used for breakfast! In fact I have eaten a lot of it for breakfast as I test out different ways to prepare it.
To start preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Next dice a sweet potato, 2 yellow potatoes and 2 beets.
Place the potatoes and beets into a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 tsp of sage, smoked paprika, or thyme and salt and pepper. I usually pick a type of spice depending on what type of left over meat I have available. This week we had pork chops left over that already had sage in the chops so I added sage to the potato/beet mixture. Other weeks when I had just chicken cooked up I added smoked paprika. Pick which ever spice you prefer.
Next, place the potatoes and beets onto a cookie sheet.
Roast for 20 to 25 minutes.
During the last 10 minutes of roasting the vegetables, start on carmalizing the onions.
Place 1-2 Tablespoons of butter, ghee or bacon fat in to a large skillet with low to medium heat. Add the onions. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
Add the minced garlic. Followed by the potato/hash mixture. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes.
At this point you can add in your protein of choice. If you have a left over meat such as corned beef, chicken, sausage, steak dice and add it now.
You can also prepare an egg anyway you like and add the hash.
I tried this once with bacon, placing the bacon on a baking sheet and cooking it at the same time as the vegetables were roasting. Then sliced it and added it to the hash.
Don't feel limited by the recipe. Add in things you like such as hot sauce or extra veggies.
This recipe makes for great leftovers and if you are in a rush every morning like I am this recipe is very handy to have a healthy veggie breakfast.
Next week is our conclusion on beets and a discussion on pickled beets!
One way that I have enjoyed beets in the past has been in my green juice. Now I’m not a regular green juice drinker but when I do I find that beets add a unique flavor. I especially like green juice if I feel a cold coming on but sometimes it helps just add a little energy to my day.
When I started to research beets I discovered that beet juice is very popular in health studies. This is due to the high amount of nitrates in beets. (Not to be confused with nitrites that are often added to bacon an hot dogs.) Nitrates when ingested from natural food source such as beets and spinach convert into nitric acid which in turn helps to widen and relax blood vessels.
This translates into some pretty cool health benefits.
Here are just a couple…
Improved athletic performance. Several studies have been conducted on nitrate consumption and athletic performance. (1, 2, 3) They show that oxygen use improves and it can help delay fatigue with competition. One study focused on running performance.
In the study one group was given baked beetroot while the other cranberry relish. The beetroot group tended to run faster. In fact 5% faster in the last 1/1 miles of a 5 k run. (7.)
It is best to drink your beet juice 2-3 hours before competition or training since nitrate levels peak around that time after consuming. There are no studies to show exactly how much beet juice to drink (although many studies used 17 oz) but start off around 4 oz and build from there. There is a detoxification effect with beet juice that not everyone tolerates well at first. Also another thing to consider is if you have low blood pressure. Since beets have been shown to lower blood pressure you have to be careful of lower it to far. (See below)
Lower blood pressure: Studies have shown that beets can lower blood pressure by 4 to 10 mmHg for a period of a few hours. The effect on systolic blood pressure seems to be greater than diastolic. (4.)This reduction is only temporary, usually only 6 hours. Eating beets regularly might help produce a more long term effect but more studies are needed. Because of this reduction in blood pressure many have concluded that beets can help with the reduction of strokes and heart attacks. Another study showed that ingesting beet juice helped to improve skeletal muscle strength, velocity and power in patients with heart failure. (5.)
May help with cognitive health: In a 2010 study a high nitrate diet in adults 70 and older were shown to have an increase in blood flow to the brain. In particular the frontal lobes that help with cognitive behavior. Subjects in this study consumed beet juice along with a beet and spinach salad at night. More studies need to be conducted but nitrates and beets in particular may help with improving cognitive and physical health in aging adults. (6.)
We decided to experiment with beet juice and see if we notice taking beet juice and improving our workouts. Since I have extremely low blood pressure and I’m not wanting to test the limits of how low I can tolerate my blood pressure going I decided to enlist Jason! He is super excited. So for the next couple of weeks I am going to have Jason drink beet juice about two hours before his workout and see how it goes. On our last beet blog I’ll have him report his findings. However a word of caution….
So if you are ready to try beet juice this is what I created for Jason to try for the first time:
1 Blood Orange
Combine in juicer and enjoy.
Now since this combo was a lot of sugar I am going to play around with adding some other low sugar content veggies to the juice and see if that helps. I also plan to add the beet green in to a couple since they are also full of great nutrients.
We’ll report our finding of our little experiment in two weeks!
Next week: Red Flannel Hash. Yum!
Like Aragorn returning to Minas Tirith with his armies of dead men in tow, this popular category returns to smite the forces of darkness led by Sauron…I mean de-conditioning, pain, and/or dysfunction.
Why is the Deadlift a KoE? Simply put, it comprises a host of actions involved with one of the primary movement patterns. Bending forward at the middle of our body is something we are designed to do. Picking up dropped keys or a shiny quarter, lifting a cooler out of your pickup or emptying the dishwasher, there are a lot of actions we perform during the day which necessitate some measure of bending forward.
Can you pick up a quarter without bending down? Sure, but it’s a little more complicated and you’ll look a little funny. One of the major themes we use here at Infinity Fitness is that you should be able to perform, to the best of your ability, all of these major movemnt patterns. I’ll not go into them all here today but for reference they are: Push, Pull, Squat, Lunge, Twist, Bend, and gait or walking. Deadlifting reinforces the Bend pattern.
I think most people at one time or other have sat through a safety training video in our lives which discusses “Proper Lifting Technique”. We’ve all heard it, “Lift with your legs and not your back.” That’s good advice but it’s not the whole story.
Let’s start at the beginning. What is a deadlift?
A Deadlift is a specific weightlifting movement in which the lifter hinges forward from the middle and grasps a weight from the floor (usually) and returns to a stading posture. What does that look like though? What is good about it? What can be bad about it? Let’s just go through a few key pieces here.
1 - Donald Duck butt - you don’t really need to overemphasize this but being aware of, and maintaining your lumbar curvature is important. So, stick it out!
2 - Hinge from the Hips - This is really the key, if you can’t do this, you really shouldn’t deadlift. From a standing position, take your fingers and poke yourself in the area of your hip right above where your front pockets would be and below where your belt would go. As you bend forward, if you are in the right motion, your fingers will get covered up. If they don’t, you are likely bending at the spine and not through the hip joint.
3 - Knees unlocked is a good place to start - There is a technique where you deadlift with straight legs, and as you get really good you can also bend your knees quite far in order to get the bar/weight to the ground. However, for a beginner, maintaining a ‘soft’ knee throughout is just fine. An unlocked knee makes for a fully active leg all the way up and down the chain. That’s good for stability in all things.
4 - Glutes, Glutes, and more Glutes - As you rise with the weight, your hamstring muscles will want to partake naturally. It’s just what they do. However, many people need greater activation of, and strength in, their glutes. So, when coming back to the top, think about clenching those cheeks hard.
So, what benefits does this King bestow upon you, it’s loyal subjects? Let’s start at the top and work our way down. Postural training at the start is always a good thing to practice. Head up, shoulders back and down, our weight is evenly distributed and we are ready to move.
Moving through the hips and maintaining the neutral curve of the spine maintains good motion of the hip joint and a healthy joint is a happy one. Also, the lumbar don’t really enjoy flexing forward so much and they will be perfectly happy to stay home where they are. This combination of motion and stabilization at the same time is an important neuromuscular skill that promotes safe movement.
The hamstrings and glutes both learn when to relax and lengthen and also when to tighten and shorten. Sitting a lot doesn’t do this, your glutes become so relaxed that they can have difficulty activating when they are supposed to, and the hamstrings learn to be short and tight when you aren’t active. This also is not useful for activity and stabiliy.
The pattern of hingeing and straightening gets them both moving in their correct places in time. In fact, if you find you have tight hammy’s, deadlifting is a fantastic way to actively stretch them out rather than the more passive method of stretching them.
In the fully engaged and hinged forward position, there is great strain pulling the chest, the gut, the head downward. Using the muscles all along the spine from tail to head you are activiely resisting this gravitational pull further strengthening your back from future strain.
Grip strength is also improved. As you begin lifting heavier and harder, your hands and forearms will naturally become stronger as well. In some ways, grip strength is the real limiter of how much a person can deadlift. If you can hold it, you shouldn’t try to lift it.
Deadlifting is a superior lift which can be done with a bar, with a kettlebell, or with dumbbells. It’s even a good movement without weight at all. Performing it safely is important but by sticking to a few key points and avoiding too much weight too soon, it can be a real benefit to your body.
You may not be able to vanquish your foes with an honor bound army of the dead behind you, but you can get your behind vanquished with a good honest Deadlift!
Have you ever had that moment when you buy a car and you think “What a great car? I have not seen this type of car anywhere.”
Then as you start to drive your new car you realize that your new car is literally everywhere.
This is how it was for me when I started to research Beets. Beet products are everywhere.
Beet chips, pre cooked beets, pickled beets, frozen beets, canned beets! EVERYWHERE!
Having not been exposed to beets growing up I just tend to look over them whenever I am shopping or looking for a new recipe. I have never taken the time to become fond of them. When out to eat if beets are listed in the ingredients I immediately move on to the next option. In fact, as I started to make recipes for this month’s blog I realized that I have traditionally always stated I hated beets, but in reality had never tried them.
When I first decided beets where the veggie for March I conducted my own unscientific survey of my clients on their feelings on beets. There are two very distinctive camps. No grey area here.
Camp 1: I HATE beets. Period end of discussion.
Camp 2: I LOVE beets. You know they are so good for you!
Which I have always wanted to respond with seriously?!? How good can they really be?!?
Turns out, very good for you.
Beets actually are so good for you we will be highlighting a new amazing benefit in each blog.
Today we will just cover the basics.
This low calorie veggie packs a nutrient punch with each serving. In just one cup of beets there are only 59 calories, but has 3.9 grams of fiber and 2.2 grams of protein. Plus, it is high in folate and manganese. Manganese, if you didn’t know, is good for connective tissues, blood clotting factors, calcium absorption ie; bone growth, brain, and nerve function. Truly, a super important mineral for the body!
The two most important nutrients that cause beets to have the most buzz is the high nitrate content and a pigment called betalins. Both of these we will explore in coming blogs but just know that these elements have been credited with lowering blood pressure, fighting cancer, and helping to improve athletic performance.
For this week’s recipe I am starting out with a super simple salad. I have found that citrus is an excellent accompaniment to beets.
So here is My Super Easy Beet Salad!