Thursday 30 November 2017

Food for the blood

Winter is definitely time for hibernation - well at least it’s what I would love to do, under my cosy duvet, especially on those cold early mornings, until I get a cheerful wake-up call from Spring. Autumn/Winter is the season of the year when we should slow down and store every inch of energy possible. But instead we are as busy as any other time of the year.

At the moment, I blame my low energy levels on the cold and early darkness, and also on a mild anaemia. Although I have a very balanced diet, I have to constantly keep an eye on my iron levels. Being a woman doesn’t help, especially when the hormones tend to create havoc once a month. That’s why I increase my intake of foods rich in iron, folic acid, B12 and vitamin C, as often as possible, to keep my red blood cells in check.

This week, amongst other heart-warming veggie and fruit, there were some beautiful beetroots and very majestic spinach in my organic farm box. A perfect combination for a meal I love making. I decided to revisit a recipe I posted here about 6 years ago. It still has a special place on our table. At first, both my husband and daughter disliked beetroot, but since I made this risotto, the red roots have become a lot more welcomed in our household. Besides being flavoursome and warming, this dish helps to keep the blood in good order and the reserve of energy high – for the whole family. 

The main ingredients
Roasting the diced beetroot.
The beetroot juice added to the veggie stock.
Let the wine evaporate...
...then add the stock, laddle by laddle, until cooked.
Time to sautée the spinach ...
... until wilted.
When risotto is cooked, add the beetroot and butter...
Then finalise with lemon zest and juice.
My beetroot, goat's cheese and spinach risotto.
Beetroot risotto with goat’s cheese and greens

This dish is so beautifully red that only looking at it makes your red blood cells increase ;)

I also like to use the beet leaves when they come with them. But you can substitute them by any greens of your preference.


400g beetroot, peeled and cut in small cubes
2 Tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
1.1 litres of vegetable stock
250g Arborio, Carnaroli or any other risotto rice
1 big onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced
125ml red wine
30g organic butter

Zest of 1 lemon, juice of half lemon
a big bunch of organic Spinach
120g fresh goat's cheese, crumbled
Sea salt and black pepper


Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Chop the beetroots into 1cm size pieces and toss them with the olive oil and salt. Place them in an oven dish and roast for 15 minutes.

Keeping the oven on, remove half of the beets and put them in a blender or food processor with about 400ml of the vegetable stock. Blend until it looks like a smooth liquid. Now, add it to the rest of the stock. Bring it to the boil and hold it at a low simmer.

Return the rest of the beetroots to the oven until they start to caramelise. It will take about 15-20 minutes more. Reserve.

In a wide, heavy pan over medium heat, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and sautée the onions and half of the garlic for 5 minutes. Lower the heat, add the rice and toast it for seven to eight minutes, stirring often. Add the red wine and simmer, stirring, until it has been absorbed. Add a ladleful or two of the hot beetroot broth. Stirring often, let this simmer until it is absorbed, then add more broth. Continue in this way until the rice is just tender and almost dry. It will take about 15-20 minutes.

In the meantime, heat some olive oil in a big frying pan, sautée the rest of the garlic for 2 minutes and add the spinach until it wilts. Reserve.

Now, add the roasted beetroots and butter to the risotto, folding gently. Add the lemon zest and the juice of half lemon. Stir and season to taste.

Serve the risotto adding the crumbled goat’s cheese over and placing some spinach on top of each plate. Enjoy!

A healthy note: Beetroot (Beta vulgaris): Contains betain, a nutrient that increases digestion and prevents heart and liver diseases. The red purple pigment betacyanin is a powerful cancer-fighting agent. It provides lots of fibre and that’s probably why it has shown to improve bowel function - it moistens the intestines, relieving constipation and regulating digestion. Studies have shown that beetroot strengthens the heart, regulates cholesterol levels, lowers blood pressure, benefits the liver and purifies the blood. Beetroot colours can show up even in your urine or faeces, which is a harmless condition called beeturia.

The juice of beetroot with carrot is a perfect combination to regulate hormones and relieve the symptoms of menopause.

Beetroot is a great source of betacarotene, vitamin B6, folic acid, manganese, silicon and potassium. It is also a good source of iron, which can prevent anaemia especially for people who follow a vegetarian diet.

Beet greens have a higher concentration of calcium, iron and vitamins A and C than beetroots.  They are high in sodium, so little salt is required.  Caution: Those who suffer from kidney problems should avoid eating too much beet greens due to an organic compound called oxalic acid, which if eaten in excess can inhibit calcium metabolism

Spinach (Spinacea oleracea) is rich in iron, has abundant vitamin A, folate and magnesium. It is also an excellent source of vitamin K, which helps to maintain bone health. Spinach also helps cleanse the blood of toxins, facilitates bowel movements aiding the treatment for constipation. It contains sulphur, which is beneficial for relieving herpes irritations. CautionAs with beetroot greens, people who suffer from kidney stones should eat raw spinach in moderation due to its high oxalic content, as it inhibits calcium metabolism. Also avoid it if you have loose stools or urinary incontinence.

Till next week!

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