I know some people feel down about New Year’s resolutions. They think they’re a waste of time or that people use them to set unattainable standards for themselves, only to be disappointed when they fail. For myself, I like the tradition. I like having a holiday that invites us to look at our lives and reflect on where we’d like to improve. It’s a chance to revisit the last year and see the places where we’ve progressed and the places where we haven’t. And it’s a chance to take some steps that we might not otherwise without an excuse. It’s an opportunity to plan.
For some people a New Year’s resolution might include juicing, eating more fruits and vegetables, and/or making a renewed effort at exercising. I know I feel a real pull right now to eat more fresh, raw foods and start the morning with just-pressed juice followed up with some cardio and weightlifting. In this clean slate time of year, it feels good to refocus.
If you have it on your to-do list for the year to add more fruits and vegetables, a good place to start is in the produce section. We’re always hearing that despite all of the healing and protective antioxidants and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables, people aren’t eating them in anywhere near the recommended levels. Variety counts too. To get all of the goodness that plants can give, it can’t be all carrot sticks and iceberg lettuce. That’s why I’m starting a new series called How to Like the Vegetables You Hate. I think the real key in convincing people to eat more vegetables is finding preparation methods that make even the most unloved produce palatable.
I’m starting this series with my old nemesis, beets. Too many times I was tricked by beets. They come in a variety of beautiful colors – orange, deep red, white, and even a variety called Chioggia that has a candy cane striped center. I wanted to like them. But whenever I’d have them, thinking this would be the time that beets would win me over, I’d be treated with a mouthful of dirt. Okay, not literally, but to my taste buds, beets were bright red dirt. There was dirt soup (borscht), roasted dirt, and worst of all, dirt burgers on a whole wheat bun.
I knew that beets were good sources of folate, fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and iron. I knew that they’ve been shown to be protective against heart disease and even certain types of cancer, particularly colon. However, I couldn’t get over their earthy flavor. Then I discovered the beauty of raw beets. So simple, so easy. Plus, beets are sensitive to heat, which can kill its antioxidants. All the more reason to use them raw. Best of all, raw beets taste much more mild with a less pronounced earthy quality, especially when mixed with other flavors.
Grated beets are a colorful addition to everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salads. I am not a three or four ingredient salad kind of person. I like grated carrots, slices of celery, persimmons, cucumbers, radishes, different colors of bell peppers, tomatoes, roasted chickpeas, diced onion, avocado, broccoli and cauliflower florets, and artichoke hearts on a bed of massaged kale. Whatever produce I can find in the refrigerator makes its way into my bowl with my favorite dressing. Now added to that mix is a very vibrant beet. To use beets in a salad, cut off the ends and peel them. Then use a grater or chop them into bite-sized chunks. One word of warning – red beets may make your salad kind of pink, especially if you save it until the next day.
Another way to add some beet-fueled color and nutrition to your day is by juicing it with other favorite fruits and vegetables. Unlike the green juices that generally grace our kitchen, you might have an easier time getting someone to drink juice in a shade they’re used to enjoying in a glass. When I’m making juice, I don’t bother peeling any of the vegetables, including the beets. Since I use all organic produce, I just clean them thoroughly with a vegetable brush and pop them into the juicer.
Lately I’ve been enjoying this Calm Morning Juice. It has a mild flavor with celery and cucumber, along with a little bit of sweetness from the orange, carrot, and beet. It’s a pleasant drink for sipping and easing into the day.
Is there a fruit or vegetable that you want to like but so far haven’t been able to enjoy?