When I prepare a meal, whether it’s a bowl of cereal, a salad, a smoothie, or a complicated casserole, I am always thinking, “What can I add to this make it more nutritious?” This way of thought takes some practice, but when it becomes a habit, it will really help you optimize the nutrition in your meals, as well as adding tons of flavor!
For example, when I make a salad, it’s like building a house. The greens are the foundation, additional vegetables, like tomatoes, carrots, and peppers, are the brick and mortar, then I get to the fun part: the fixtures, flooring, and appliances.
I’ll add some kind of legume for protein: peas, black beans or kidney beans, and a grain like quinoa, rice or farro. Then a handful of nuts or seeds for healthy fat.
A salad is a good place for my 1 Tbs of ground flaxseed for the day, so sprinkle that on, maybe some chia seeds too while I’m at it! Then I add spices and herbs, in addition to the dressing.
If I want a taco flavor salad, I add chopped cilantro, sprinkle in cumin and garlic powder, and use a creamy avocado or ranch dressing.
If I want an Asian flavor, I’ll add some Thai basil and use a ginger dressing.
For Italian, a lemon garlic dressing with fresh thyme and basil does the trick….get the drift?
In addition to adding more nutrition, you are adding heaps of flavors and textures to your meal.
Now on to beets:
They stain your hands and your pee, but they’re well worth the effort to prepare. That dark reddish-purple root veggie is literally bleeding vitamins and minerals. Plus, eating beets, or drinking beet juice, may improve athletic performance, lower blood pressure and protect against certain cancers. You just can’t beet ’em! (I had to say it.)
In the photo, I prepared 3 beets, using them in 3 different ways. Here are the instructions.
Wash the beets thoroughly. Cut the stalks and greens off, chopping them into 1-2 inch pieces, set aside. Peel the beets with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.
One beet I grated, then put in a container in the fridge to add to my salads and smoothies throughout the coming week. How easy was that? Preparation is the key to practicing nutrition forward thinking! I diced and roasted the other two beets, as follows:
Roasted Balsamic Glazed Beets
What you need:
- 2 diced beets
- 1/2 cup red onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 400. Place a piece of parchment on a baking sheet. Spread the diced beets on the sheet. Add the red onion and garlic. Just sprinkle these throughout the beets. Mix the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup in a small bowl, drizzle this over the beets and onions. Mix everything around a bit with a spatula if you aren’t a good drizzler. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. Roast for 45 minutes.
Prepared to be amazed.
While the beets roast, prepare the greens– YES, you can eat the greens and stalks!
Sauteed Beet Greens and Spinach with Fennel and Basil
- beet greens and stalks from 2-3 beets, chopped
- 1 big handful spinach (optional- the recipe works just fine with just beet greens, but more is merrier)
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
- Heat a large skillet or wok to medium-high.
- Add 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and cook for about a minute.
- Add the chopped beet greens, stirring constantly so they don’t stick for about 2 minutes.
- When the stalks are tender and the greens are sauteed to your liking, turn the heat off and add the spinach. Mix the greens together. The heat from the beet greens will be enough to wilt the spinach.
- Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and add the basil. Toss with a couple of splashes of balsamic vinegar, salt and fresh pepper to taste.
Next, we need to add some sweetness. What fruit do you have that needs to be used?
Chop up about half a cup of any of these: grapes, blueberries, orange or tangerine segments, cantaloupe, apple, peach, strawberries.
If you don’t have fresh fruit, raisins or dried cranberries will work well.
Now add some texture…what nuts or seeds have you got on hand? Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts…any of those will do nicely.
Always be thinking, what do I have that will add flavor and nutrition to this dish? Add your roasted beets on top of the mixed greens, and enjoy!