Vibrant health is waiting for you. It’s hiding in plain sight in your grocer’s produce aisle. Often imbued with the colors of a beautiful sunrise; red, orange, yellow and various shades in-between, the fruits and vegetables you will find there offer color-coded hints of their nutritional benefits. Brightly hued beets, for instance, are among nature’s superfoods. They’re packed with fiber and phytonutrients. And perhaps best of all, they’re a great source of heart-healthy nitrates.
Dietary nitrates are converted by the body into nitric oxide (NO); a minuscule molecule with a powerful function. The body uses NO to signal your blood vessels to relax. And when they relax, blood pressure goes down and blood flows more freely. That’s better for the long-term health of your cardiovascular system, because high blood pressure (hypertension) is among the top major risk factors for heart attack and stroke.
So bring on the beets if you want excellent health and nutrition from your root vegetables. Here is a lovely fall salad starring beets and some other nutritional powerhouses.
Unbeatable Beets Fall Salad
1 (16 oz.) can cooked beets, drained and cut into 1-inch dice
1 medium tart apple, cored and chopped
1 C. walnuts halves/pieces, lightly toasted*
1 small fennel bulb, cored, fronds removed; chopped into small pieces
1/2 C. balsamic dressing
*Toasting nuts caramelizes their sugars and deepens their flavors. To avoid bitterness, do not scorch. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with parchment paper. Roast for 5 to 10 minutes, until nuts become fragrant.
1/3 C. extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar de Modena (use the best, longest-aged vinegar you can find)
1 Tbsp. prepared Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch sea salt
Mix all ingredients in a measuring cup. Whisk with hand blender until stable emulsion forms. Do not omit mustard; it emulsifies (and stabilizes) the oil/water mixture.
Place first four ingredients (through fennel) in salad bowl. Toss. Add dressing and toss to coat. Chill for 30 minutes and serve. Serves 4.