Vegetarian

Beets: Packed with Cancer-Fighting Antioxidants

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Something I will always remember from growing up was how much my mom loved beets, and how much I didn’t love them. Maybe it was the way she prepared them, pickled with vinegar and onions, but the flavor just did not appeal to me. It wasn’t until many years later when my mom came across a delicious beet salad recipe in Cooking Light magazine that my entire outlook on the red root vegetable changed.

Many studies show that in order for us to get our daily dose of necessary vitamins, we need to “eat a rainbow.” While an abundance of green, orange and white fruits and vegetables are out there, we often miss out on the red and purple/blue fruits and veggies. The common garden beet actually falls into both the red and purple category, depending on the darkness of its pigment. If your beet is on the red side, it means it is full of lycopene, a cancer preventer, and anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that protect our cells from damage.  If your beet is on the darker purple side, it is chock full of flavanoids, an antioxidant known to improve cardiovascular health and prevent short-term memory loss.

This bright and vibrant salad is always a crowd pleaser, and has been known to convert many kids and adults, including myself, into beet lovers! And with the bold colors and flavors it makes a visually appealing dish that is full of vitamins and nutrients.

Ingredients

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  • 1 cup dried, or 3 cups canned, black-eyed peas
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 cups coarsely chopped peeled beets, or canned beets (about 2.5 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

  1. (Note: Skip this step if using canned peas.) Sort and wash black-eyed peas; place in a small saucepan. Cover with water to two inches above peas; bring to a boil. Cook two minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for one hour. Drain peas, and place in a saucepan. Cover with water to two inches above peas. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until tender. Drain.
  2. Combine vinegar and next 5 ingredients (vinegar through salt) in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk.
  3. (Note: Skip this step if using canned beets.) Steam the beets, covered, for 25 minutes or until done.
  4. Arrange the beets on a platter, and top with peas. Get your kids involved and have them sprinkle the beets with cheese, pecans, and parsley. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad.

Enjoy!