Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Beet Salad with Mint, Dill and Feta

Here's another quick and easy salad for you beet lovers out there!  Never had beets or not sure if you like them?  Here are SIX reasons why you should give beets a chance:

1. Lower Your Blood Pressure
Drinking beet juice may help to lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. One study found that drinking one glass of beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 4-5 points.3
The benefit likely comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
2. Boost Your Stamina
If you need a boost to make it through your next workout, beet juice may again prove valuable. Those who drank beet juice prior to exercise were able to exercise for up to 16 percent longer.4 The benefit is thought to also be related to nitrates turning into nitric oxide, which may reduce the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.
3. Fight Inflammation
Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It's also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.5 As reported by the World's Healthiest Foods:6
"[Betaine's]… presence in our diet has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. As a group, the anti-inflammatory molecules found in beets may eventually be shown to provide cardiovascular benefits in large-scale human studies, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits for other body systems."
4. Anti-Cancer Properties
The powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color may help to ward off cancer. Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models when administered in drinking water, for instance, while beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.7
5. Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber
Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
6. Detoxification Support
The betalin pigments in beets support your body's Phase 2 detoxification process, which is when broken down toxins are bound to other molecules so they can be excreted from your body. Traditionally, beets are valued for their support in detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver.

Want to read more?  Check this out: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=49

So back to the salad...my husband and I love beets.  We put them on any salad, in a smoothie, and sometimes I just eat them.  I roast them myself and sometimes I buy them already roasted (prepackaged in the produce section).  This particular salad is a play on the popularity of beet salads on restaurant menus.  Most of these pair beets with goat cheese, which I love!  However, this version was created for my mom who hates goat cheese (she thinks it tastes like a farm).  I've combined another soft cheese, feta, with some of my favorite herbs.  I also used a little help from the store with a store-bought yogurt dressing.  Feel free to use your favorite dressing or give this one a try.

Happy Cooking!
Beet Salad with Mint, Dill, and Feta
4 medium sized beets, peeled and roasted (I bought mine pre-packaged and already roasted for me)
2 T white wine vinegar
1 T olive oil
3 T fresh mint, chopped
4 cups of chopped romaine hearts
4 T of dill and feta yogurt dressing (I bought Oikos brand but you can use your favorite low-fat, low-sugar dressing.)
2 T crumbled feta cheese

First marinade the beets.  Cut each beet into 4-6 wedges and place in a small bowl.  Add the white wine vinegar, olive oil, and mint.  Toss until well combined and allow to sit for 30 minutes.  Once marinated, toss the romaine hearts and dressing together in a large bowl.  Divide the lettuce onto two plates (this recipe serves 2), top with half of the marinated beets, and half of the feta cheese.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

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