Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: the joys of the harvest

As the days get shorter and crisper, my thoughts turn to the kitchen more.  The ground has frozen where I live, I have pulled everything from my garden and now have a bounty of root vegetables to use.  Beets have been a favorite of mine since I was a child and I’m glad that my own children seem to love them, too.

bowl of harvard beets

Harvard-style beets are a favourite of my family.

Beets are a very versatile vegetable that are relatively easy to prepare. As my fellow dietitian colleague says, “you can’t beat beets!” They have an earthy sweet taste when roasted, or a lighter taste when boiled and chopped, or pickled or grated and added to a salad.  However, one of my favorite ways to eat beets is how my mom (and her mom) used to make them as harvard beets; my own children love them this way too.  How do you like to eat your beets?

Harvard Beets  

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups diced cooked beets (canned beets work too)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp corn starch
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup water or beet juice if using canned beets
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp margarine or butter

Instructions:

  1. Mix the sugar, corn starch and salt in a sauce pan.
  2. Add in the vinegar and water (or beet juice) and bring to a boil.
  3. Stir in the margarine.
  4. Add in the beets and cook until warm.
Rebecca Larson

About Rebecca Larson

Rebecca works in Vanderhoof and the surrounding communities as a dietitian. She was born in the north and returned after her schooling. Rebecca loves tobogganing with her daughter in the winter, gardening and camping in the summer and working on her parents cattle ranch in her spare time.

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Foodie Friday: Can’t beat beets!

Marianne's vibrant pink dilly beet hummus

A delicious snack at home or a great contribution to appie night!

It’s amazing how our tastes evolve throughout our lives. Foods that we once swore would never cross our lips suddenly become our favourites. Sometimes it just takes an “aha moment.” That’s what happened to me when I was eight years old and “starving” on a train-ride from Edmonton to Vancouver: the first thing served from the dining car was salad and I realized it actually tasted okay.  Other times we just gradually find ourselves enjoying different flavours and textures without even realizing it. Even as adults we can still learn to love new foods.

Such was my experience with a farmers’ market staple – the beet. Honestly, I can’t even remember tasting one as a kid (which seems impossible for someone with Russian grandparents). If you’d asked me back then if I liked them, I would have scrunched my face up and said, “no way!” I remember being in Australia, living with a family there, and they served beetroot with everything. I thought they were crazy. Yet somewhere along the way, my curiosity got the best of me. I gave them a go, and now I can honestly say I love them.

Freshly picked beats.

Beets: underrated and versatile.

Beets are a pretty awesome food. They are an excellent source of folate, and a good source of potassium and fibre. They grow locally and are hearty enough to store throughout the winter. Plus, beets give us that much needed pop of colour when most of our veggie options are rather drab (potatoes, turnips, and cabbage, I’m looking at you). Beets have a ton of culinary uses: you can roast them, boil them, pickle them, or eat them raw. You can use them to make soups, top a salad, or as a garnish on your favourite sandwich. They even have a natural sweetness that works in desserts. In fact, red velvet cake was originally coloured with beets!

One of my favourite ways to introduce people to beets is a Dilly Beet Hummus. It’s a great way to pair something familiar with something new. Plus it is the most amazing shade of magenta – it will liven up any party!

Dilly beet humus on a cracker

Time for a taste!

Dilly Beet Hummus
Makes approx. 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (19 oz or 540 mL) chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2/3 cup cooked beets (cook your own, or use canned)
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup fresh dill
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup water

Instructions:

1. Combine all ingredients, except water, in a food processor and blend until combined. Add water until desired consistency is reached. Allow to sit for several hours before serving to let flavours meld.

Recipe from: French Fries to Flax Seeds (my food blog!)

So tell me – do you love beets? What are some of your favourite ways to prepare them?

Marianne Bloudoff

About Marianne Bloudoff

Born and raised in BC, Marianne moved from Vancouver to Prince George in January 2014. She is a Registered Dietitian with Northern Health's population health team. Her passion for food and nutrition lured her away from her previous career in Fisheries Management. Now, instead of counting fish, she finds herself educating people on their health benefits. In her spare time, Marianne can be found experimenting in the kitchen and writing about it on her food blog, as well as exploring everything northern B.C. has to offer.

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