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Lunchbox, Sides

That Beetroot Salad

Beetroot has long filled the cells of mankind with mega antioxidants, and enough iron to make Popeye quake.

Beetroot puts the super into superfood (and sometimes the hell into healthy, if not cooked adequately). Sometimes I wish Vanilla Ice had included them in his big hit.

This earthy vegetable is a real friend to the kidneys, we’re told. So don’t freak out when your pee turns crimson. That red plant pigment holds a compound called betacyanin, commissioned to do all sorts of fancy ripostes in your bloodstream. The Russians have long known beet’s secret. This might help explain how the Russians can survive Siberia’s winter temperatures, and yet another term of Putin.

Freshly juiced, beets appear to enjoy great repute in cancer care clinics across the globe. I reckon it’s because they taste so sweet and gorgeous, rather than their nutritional currency. Nevertheless, beets are still ranked as one of the most underused and misunderstood veggies. Both cooked and raw beetroot are easy to find in supermarkets, yet doesn’t always mosey their way into our shopping trolleys. Shame that.

 

beet salad healthy 

 

A side of beet, yoghurt and almond

Beetroot ain’t that fussy, so long as it has a lick of olive oil and lemon. This purple veg has helped propel Avoca into celebrity status on the restaurant circuit (you know the dish? Thinly sliced beetroot, thick yoghurt and flaked almonds). My husband once sang the soundtrack to Frozen in Polish for an extra helping from the dinner lady.

It really isn’t necessary to put your husband through that, so here’s the recipe. From them to me, and from me to you. Go bonkers.

Serves 4

3 tablespoons flaked almonds
4 tablespoons of natural yoghurt
Squeeze of lemon, plus a little zest
A few twists of the salt and pepper mill
1 small clove garlic, crushed
4 cooked beetroot (vacuum pack are handy)

 

Start by tanning your flaked almonds in a hot oven for 6 minutes until kissed by a golden zephyr. 200 Celsius will do the trick. If they turn a shade darker, your taste buds will be deeply disappointed.

While the flaked almonds are on the clock, whip your yoghurt with a little lemon and zest to taste, salt and pepper as you like it, and the crushed garlic.

Take the almonds out to cool.

Thinly slice the beetroot and let the yoghurt join the party. Finish with a flurry of tanned almonds on top. That’s all there is to it.

Change it up from time to time with capers, segments of orange, diced red onion or grated boiled egg. It’s a fabulously handy recipe.

 

Lunchbox, Sides, Vegan &/or Raw

Celeriac and white bean puree

Not so pretty, these celeriac things. They look like a cross between the butt of a matted yak, and a swede with dermatitis. But damn, are they delicious.

Like Stephen Fry, you’ll find treasure beneath that exterior. There is a smooth understated elegance to a celeriac. And a faint nutty aroma. Indeed the celeriac is Yotam Ottolenghi’s favourite root vegetable, so I became a disciple faster than green grass through a goose.

For a carbalicious root, celeriac is rather light on the tummy and even lighter on the wallet. Whizzed up in a blender with creamy white beans, it provides a comforting alternative to mashed spuds, when the mood yodels.

celeriac butter bean puree

 

And get this. Beans carry a cargo of B vitamins and fibre, making them the heavyweight champion food for healthy hearts. Gastroenterologists – the specialists who look after your pipes – recommend thirty to thirty five grams of daily dietary fibre. One cup of the popular red kidney beans provides eleven grams, while butterbeans ring in at sixteen grams per serving. Want to know the average daily intake in Ireland?  A measly ten grams. So forget that hideous childhood rhyme, and start loving beans. They love you.

While your colon gets a good spring clean, so too will your skin. Nutritionists are quick to remind us that a build-up of toxins in the body often manifests in skin complaints – spots, rashes, blotchiness, tantrums. Our skin is our body’s largest excretory organ. With the added vitamin C from celeriac, you’ll be well on your way to giving Angela Scanlon some competition.

 

celeriac butterbean

 

Celeriac and white bean puree

Makes 6 servings

 

1 teaspoon bicarb

350g dried butterbeans, soaked for 8 hours

½ head celeriac, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

A few twists of the salt and pepper mill

 

Bring a pan of water to the boil with your bicarb. Add the butterbeans and cook until tender (20-45 minutes). Drain the cooked beans, reserving 150ml of the cooking liquid for later.

Meanwhile, steam the chopped celeriac for 10 minutes.

Transfer to a blender along with the cooked beans, and whip until sumptuously smooth. You will need to add the reserved liquid, salt, pepper and excitement as you puree.

Scrape into a serving dish, smoothing the top, and mmmizzle with olive oil.

 

celeriac butter bean

 

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