Aren't these colors just absolutely gorgeous? Food should make us excited when eat it! We digest our environment though all five of our senses, and being mindful of what we digest through sight should not be excluded when preparing a meal- or any of our activities for that matter. (thats a whole other article)
Adding vegetables high in flavonoids are generally a great way to add a pop of color to your dish, as well as to increase you antioxidant intake. Beets are high in flavonoids, beta-carotene and carotenoids, all very powerful antioxidants. Foods rich in antioxidants are known to support the healthy functioning and natural cleansing of the liver, as well as the prevention of disease such as cancer caused from free radical damage to our cells. Oxidative damage to the cells causes neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinson's and many cancers. Some types of flavonoids are known for their anti-inflammatory effects, which is a common thread between many chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cancer (inflammation). Increased and regular intake of foods high in flavonoids can help protect the body against such diseases.
Some examples of foods high in flavonoids include- oranges, kale, beets, spinach, parsley, oregano, rosemary, blueberries, and black tea.
How do beets help clean and purify the blood? They are rich in an array of vitamins and minerals such as potassium- which helps regulate blood sugar. You will find iron, magnesium, folic acid and vitamins A, B and C which work to strengthen the circulation of your bloodstream and remove toxic substances from it.
They help build red blood cells and are used to treat anemia, as well as recognized for providing significant support for the female reproductive system.
Beets are rich in Betaine, a natural liver detoxifier and bile thinner. This is most helpful because the majority of peoples livers are burdened with an excessive amount of responsibility for cleansing the body- what with the increase in pollutants in our soil and water, intake of alcohol, and the amount of processed foods that are consumed.
Why would you want the liver and the blood to be cleansed? A build up of toxins or free radicals can show up in many ways in the body, from skin disorders to cancer. There are many reasons why taking care of the health of you liver (which translates to healthy blood) should be at the top of your list- as many ailments stem from a congested liver. When there is excess Pitta dosha in the Rakta Dhatu (blood tissue), it can result in skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema, hypertension and an enlarged liver or spleen. Emotionally, when there is excess Pitta dosha present it can result in anger, criticalness, sharpness, harsh judgment, and even violence. When there is decreased Pitta in the Rakta Dhatu, that can result in anemia, breathlessness, dry cracked skin, lack of enthusiasm and luster, craving for iron and hot spicy foods.
To adequately tell what imbalances you have, always work with a qualified practitioner. Imbalances reveal themselves on deep, complex levels over time and should be monitored by an Ayurvedic Practitioner for an accurate diagnosis and administration of a treatment plan.
This dish is inspired by Borscht a famous Russian beet soup, but Borscht enthusiasts will recognize some differences. I think one of the biggest differences is that I blended about 3/4 of the content, leaving about 1/4 of the chopped vegetables in their cut form. It's probably a little less tangy than Borscht as well as I used lemon juice instead of vinegar. Either way, its deliciously smooth and silky, tantalizing to the senses and carries a punch of nutrients and blood cleansing capabilities.
Aside from its medicinal benefits, this soup is simple and tastes amazing. It is very satisfying for a variety of reasons- From It's effects on our blood and liver, to the satisfaction of the bitter and astringent taste on the palate mixed with the sweet taste of the potatoes and carrots. If you enjoy this for no other reason than for its taste, it will be a win.
Bonnie's Beet Stew
Makes about 4 servings
Total time: 35-45 minutes
6 medium red beets
4 medium new potatoes
3 whole carrots
3 stalks of celery
roughly 3 tbls of freshly chopped chives and fresh dill
1/4 cup whole milk yogurt or sour cream for topping (alternative yogurts work fine also)
salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
2 quarts vegetable broth
2 garlic cloves diced finely
1. Traditionally a Borscht recipe would call for some or all of the beets to be grated. I skipped that part and just blended some of the concoction at the end. It results in a different texture, but it's quite hearty and smooth. For this recipe- cut all your beets in half, then in quarters, then again into eighths.
2. Cut the potatoes and carrots to be about the same size as the beets. Medium bite sized pieces
3. Slice the leek into slivers. You can use the upper green part for a more rustic and hearty taste, or stick with the bottom white part for a sharper and sweeter taste.
4. Dice the fresh chives and set aside, roughly chop the dill and set aside in a separate bowl.
5. Slice the celery stalks thinly
5. Heat up 2 tbls of oil in a large heavy sauce pan. Add the celery, leek, bay leaves and 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper. Saute on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, until the celery starts to break down and become aromatic and a bit see through.
6. Add in the garlic cloves and saute for another 2 minutes.
7. Add in the beets, carrots and potatoes and turn up the heat to medium high, and stir constantly for about 2 minutes. Then place a lid over the top and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until the vegetables get a slight brown on them or begin to get soft. Add in another small pinch of salt.
8. Turn down the heat to medium low and add 1.5 quarts of vegetable broth. Cover and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes. The potatoes will cook faster than the beets, so watch them. Poke them with a knife or a skewer after about 15 minutes to check that they are soft, but still hold their form when bitten through. Continue to cook a few minutes more as needed.
9. Now ladle about 3/4 of the mixture into your blender- get the bay leaves in there and blend them up well. You might add more vegetable broth to this part to thin it out to a smooth and medium-thin consistency. Add the blended portion back into you pot with the chopped vegetables once it's done.
10. Mix everything together in your pot well and add the juice of 1 lemon. Start with just half and taste to see if you want the whole thing. I preferred it with a bit more tang and I felt like the whole lemon balanced the earthiness of the rest of the ingredients well.
11. Mix in 2 tbls each of chives and dill, and then ladle your portion into a bowl. Top with a spoonful of yogurt or sour cream and more fresh herbs on top. You can add a little flare with some edible flowers as well if you like!
Enjoy those Beets and all their goodness!
With Love, Bonnie Gene
©UniDhi Ayurveda & Yoga, Bonnie G. Wallace