Red and Raw

I’ve picked up a few really helpful healthy-eating tips from the email-only newsletter written by Brooklyn-based health counselor Christine Boutross. So, when a recent newsletter mentioned that the pigment in red beets, betacyanin, has been proven to be a strong cancer-fighting agent and that people “who were consuming regular servings of beets had a 30% drop in their bad cholesterol, a 40% drop in triglycerides, and a rise in HDL, the good cholesterol,” I was ready to start cooking some—even though roasting these red root veggies usually leaves my kitchen looking like a crime scene. But then Ms. Boutross threw me for a loop:

To get the best nutritional value from your beets, especially those good cancer fighting agents, you want to eat your beets raw. Just peel them (If they are baby beets, you really don’t need to peel them at all) and either grate them, slice them into rounds or chop them into bite size pieces.

To be completely honest, I grew up in a beet-free household and I wasn’t even exactly sure what they were when I picked up a dusty bunch of ’em at my CSA a few years back. I quickly fell in love with roasted beets, but I never imagined eating them raw. Then, soon after that newsletter was sent out, I found myself at Vino Vino in Austin, Texas, noshing on a superb tian of sliced baby beets, stacked between dollops of macadamia nut purée, drizzled with Thai basil pesto, and topped with thick shavings of Pecorino Romano. The beets were raw, and they were delicious.

My vegetarian dining companion at Vino Vino had never tried raw beets either, so I guess I’m not completely alone in my lack of exposure to them. But some Chowhounds have already shared their favorite raw beet recipes, and Gourmet has an intriguing recipe for raw beet and apple tabbouleh. Plus, one commenter on BlogHer treats them like carrots and slices them into sticks for colorful crudités. Any other raw beet recipe ideas?

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