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Cook with Colors, Cook with Beets

The days are a bit colder, it’s winter almost everywhere…Can you feel it too?

I thought I’d share my vaccine against life becoming a grisaille, one of those melancholic artworks exclusively in shades of grey. So today, I give you…COLORS. Yes. Tried and tested, add colors to your outfit, pop some colorful jewelry and it will fight the gloom and lift your spirits…People are bound to notice and comment on it so you get to share the joy! Ta da!

One area I really cannot live without colors is when I cook.

My epiphany was when I wondered how I could make my son ingest something other than white food and stumbled on an Ottolenghi cook book. My husband and I used to live around the corner from his first deli in London. Such fond memories of delicious and colorful food well before Ottolenghi became the acclaimed chef he so deserves to be.

His original deli was all white walls to let the colors and unusual combinations of his scrumptious Mediterranean food work their magic. First on your eyes, then your taste buds. Pomegranates shining like rubies in his grain salads, the classic green and red contrast revisited with green beans, brocoli, red chili and poppy seeds…

In a nutshell, cooking with colors is Art on a plate!  And it feels delicious being at the junction between Food, Jewelry and Art!

Ottolenghi’s books became my kitchen bible and I am so glad I converted to his Art of Cooking. If you were looking for something different, just be prepared for a little time investment at first. You need to build up your pantry with all the spices and herbs he uses, then it’s pure delight in your plates, every single meal! My son now eats Brussel sprouts and beetroot without complaints…Which brings me to what I thought I’d share with you today.

The beauty of beetroot! 

Don’t grimace! Look at the colors of these Chiogga beets. I mean if this is not a diamond in the rough, what is?

Beets come in many varieties and colors ranging from rich velvety crimson, to golden yellow; they can also be all white or with fuchsia pink stripes.

You can roast beetroots and make a bright pink dip that would make food colorant blush with envy. You can eat them raw (especially the Chiogga variety as they will lose their color if cooked) like in this Ottolenghi Herb and Beet Salad.

They are full of goodness, including Vitamin C (to keep away those colds), essential nutrients like potassium (good for your nerves and muscles) and manganese (your bones, liver, kidneys and pancreas will thank you).

There are some interesting studies around. Drinking beet juice could boost your running performance by 1-2%, especially if you’re not already a fully-trained athlete. The nitrates in beets get converted to nitric oxide which basically dilate your blood vessels and lower your blood pressure, making you able to sustain high intensity efforts for longer. I am definitely going to try!

Last but not least, buy your beets with their greens attached and don’t throw those away. Leafy beet greens used to be what beetroots were all about until the Romans decided they preferred the root. Actually, beet greens are a forgotten super-food: they have a higher iron content than spinach, along with a long list of important nutrients such as phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, calcium, Vitamin A and C.

I add them sautéed with pasta and the kids love them. They also make a delicious and vibrant green pesto. Just add a little lemon zest, et voilà!

I hope this added a few colors to your life, encouraging you to eat something different while sharing the magic of cooking to help you get through the winter grey!

If you know somebody who could benefit from eating beets or cooking with colors, feel free to Share and / or press the Follow button.

© 2017 Ingrid Westlake

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