Now that the weather is warming up and produce is coming into season up here in zone 5, I am trying to be more conscientious about eating a raw diet. While I don’t think I have the patience and stamina (or the gadgets) to go completely raw, I am trying to incorporate more raw elements into my meals. So when I saw these gorgeous, organic early spring golden beets and carrots at the farmer’s market this morning, I filled up the entire bag.
I have been noticing more recipes in the past month or so that incorporate raw beets, which appeals to me greatly. Beets are one of the most nutritious foods a person can consume. With high levels of folic acid, soluble and insoluble fiber, iron and potassium, beets are healthy no matter how they are cooked. However, when left raw, beets offer the most complete nutrition, including a complete form of betacyanin, which has been found to reduce cholesterol, help prevent colon cancer, and detoxify the liver. I always juiced them to eat raw, but – frankly – beet juice gets old.
But why raw to begin with? Raw food contains completely intact nutritional value, whereas most foods leach nutrients as they cook. But more than this, raw foodism is based on the concept of enzymes. Each biodegradable material contains the enzymes necessary to break it down. This means that along with fibers, sugars and fats, each raw food source contains the compounds necessary to digest fibers, sugars and fats. When you consume raw foods, your own digestive system does not have to work because the food digests itself. The enzymes are triggered by injury to the food (e.g. chopping and chewing). Without the strain of digestion, your body has the energy to work on other things like metabolism. Or so the logic goes.
So, looking at these beauties, I decided on a raw beet salad. I know, salad. How original. But I wanted to taste the raw beets in as simple a way as possible before I started making more complex dishes with them. And frankly, this salad was ridiculously delicious. Even my boyfriend, who thinks raw foodism is a silly gimmick, enjoyed it as a slaw in his sandwich. So, without further ado, Early Spring Sunshine Salad.
Serves two people (or one hungry blogger) with enough leftover for a cup of juice or garnish for a few sandwiches:
1 large golden beet, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 medium carrots, peeled
1 oz Sunflower sprouts, ends cut off
1/3 Cup raw sunflower seeds
1 -2 oz of raw, sheep’s milk organic cheddar (feta would be delicious too)
Cilantro to garnish
2 Tbs cold-pressed olive oil
1 Tbs raw apple cider vinegar (with the mother)
pinches of salt (I use pink Himalayan salt, because its mild) and pepper
1 Tbs raw agave nectar (honey would work too)
I recommend using a food processor to shred the veggies. Once shredded, add together with sunflower sprouts and seeds and toss with dressing. Assemble thinly sliced cheese and cilantro on top and serve.
There you have it! Next week, I’ll be visiting glorious zone 6, where I will take advantage of more spring vegetables…