Tag Archives: aphrodisiac

Beet the Heat

16 Aug

Beets are the best.  Roasted.  Pickled.  Sautéed.  Cold.  Hot.  Beets are great as a side dish with balsamic vinegar and goat cheese.  They are delicious roasted along side other vegetables.  I’ve even eaten them right out of the can.  Being raised in the midwest, vegetables were always on our dinner table, but somehow beets got overlooked. So how did I get hooked?

My love affair with this herbaceous plant began in adulthood.  The first time I tried beets was a happy surprise.  I was tired of my usual repertoire of veggies and decided to try beets.  In the grocery store one day, I impulsively grabbed a fresh bunch of beets with the intention of simply roasting them.

I brought them home, put the beets on the counter, and stared them down.  Hhhmmmm.  This would be an adventure.  I washed them and laid them on paper towels.  Off came the green tops.  I peeled the fresh beets, placed them on a baking sheet, drizzled some olive oil over them, and into the oven they went.  The beets cooked up beautifully.  One taste and I was hooked.

But the thought of those greens going to waste was unthinkable.  Out of curiosity, I pinched off a green and popped it into my mouth expecting it to be tough and woody.  I was delighted to find the greens tender and flavorful.  Oh heck yes!  I would find a way to eat the greens too!  That was many seasons ago…

Now summer is on the horizon. I am beginning to think grilled, chilled and easy.   I do not want my oven on this time of year.  What is the best way to enjoy beets this season?  Piled on a garden fresh crisp salad!

But first, let’s chat for a second about the virtues of beets.  Some would say they are not a desirable or sexy vegetable, or even a popular one.  But since they are packed full of vitamins and minerals, and so versatile, beets cannot be overlooked.

The health benefits of including beets in the diet are numerous.  They are a good source of fiber, have lots of vitamin C, and are high in folate and potassium.  Beets are also a rich source of antioxidants, compounds that prevent disease and the damaging effects of oxidation of cells throughout your body.  They are very low in fat, and certainly don’t need a lot of added fat to make them taste good.

While they come in many varieties, we most often see the “blood turnip”, or red beet. They are a root vegetable, like a carrot or potato and they like to grow in cool weather.  They are available canned all year long, but we see them seasonally featured in the spring and the fall.

And remember how I said it was not considered a sexy vegetable?  Well think again.  Fruits and vegetables, like herbs, were used in ancient times as medicine.  One of the first known medicinal uses for the beet was as an aphrodisiac in ancient Greece.  There.  I said it.

Anywhoooo….beets are very easy to prepare.  If they are fresh, they can simply be peeled, drizzled with olive oil and roasted.  They are also wonderful diced and  sautéed.  Canned beets are fabulous hot or cold.  Simply open the can, rinse the beets, and toss them on a salad.  They can also be heated and enjoyed as a simple side dish.

Back to those green tops for a minute.  If you have fresh beets with the greens, do not throw those away!  The greens are also a nutrient dense food and adaptable to many dishes.  Like beets, the greens can be enjoyed raw, such as mixed with other greens in your summer salad.  They can also be sautéed much like spinach, in a little olive oil.  Season them a bit with salt and pepper, and you’ve got another phenomenal side dish.

If you’ve tried beets and didn’t like them, try them again.  If you’ve never tried them, its time to add some variety to your diet.  The health benefits  of beets are plentiful, they are budget friendly, and just plain delicious.  Let your own impulses go wild, pick up some beets up at the farmers marker or grocer, and begin your own adventure!

Delicious cold beets piled on a fresh summer salad! Yum!

Delicious cold beets piled on a fresh summer salad! Yum!

Seven Super Spices…next!

13 Nov

Okay.  We covered the first super healthy spice.  Cumin.  Have you had fun with it?  I hope so because I am having a blast with it.  As promised, we are on to the next super healthy spice.  We will stay with the brown spices and go to…cinnamon!

Cinnamon has been a show stealer lately, and become very much in vogue with news outlets touting it’s benefits.  Lets break it down and take a look here.  Cinnamon has a very long history, actually dating back to early Egypt.  Cinnamon has been used to treat maladies of all kinds for centuries.  Great news…not only does it greatly please our olfactory senses (our nose), it really is a super spice!

The health benefits making cinnamon one of the seven super spices include:

  • According to studies, cinnamon is good for the digestive tract and aids digestion.  It is good for IBS as well as a simple tummy ache.  Infuse some tea with cinnamon and relax!
  • Cinnamon is high in manganese.  What does that mean?   Manganese is great for bone health, and may help prevent osteoporosis.
  •  Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidant properties.  Antioxidants are good for healthy cell reproduction and benefits the entire body!  Antioxidants not only prevent cell damage, it can repair cell damage as well.
  • Cinnamon has been shown to reduce arthritis pain.  Added bonus:  It has been proven to help menstrual pain too!  It can reduce pain by acting as an anti-inflammatory.

I do not recommend eating cinnamon by itself or adding it to cold drinks.  It may be harsh tasting and not palatable.  For health benefits, try adding it to baked dishes or hot beverages.  Add it to tea, coffee,  hot oatmeal, or to pancake batter.  Sometimes I sprinkle cinnamon on my coffee grounds prior to brewing.  It not only smells great, it tastes fantastic!  As with anything though, moderation is key for optimal benefits.  1 teaspoon of cinnamon a day is a great start!

Store your cinnamon tightly in a glass jar.  Keep the jar in a cool dark place.  Storing cinnamon in the kitchen is fine but make sure not to store it above the stove!  Put it in a cabinet far from any heat source.  Also, buy it in small amounts so it is sure to always be fresh!  It should not be in your kitchen for more than 6 months.  Boost your health benefits and start adding cinnamon as part of your daily nutrition today!

P.S.  Cinnamon has a potential naughty side…some folks consider it an aphrodisiac.  It can warm the body and lead to a boost in sex drive.  Consider yourself warned!