I have been eating a great deal of beets lately and not by choice. Well, that's only partly true. My youngest son Dylan has some severe sensitivities to certain foods in my breast milk, so about three months ago, I began a total elimination diet. Long story short, on the total elimination diet, you pretty much cut out all foods, and then slowly, painstakingly, add them back in one by one so you can figure out which ones are the offenders. I didn't plan on doing something so extreme, but after I cut out the top 8, dairy, soy, wheat, etc. without much success, I decided to give the t.e.d. a try. The first few weeks were torture, only being allowed to eat turkey, sweet and white potatoes, pears, rice, and zucchini, all with no spices except salt and pepper. But low and behold, this diet worked! Within two days Dylan was back to normal. It was both a blessing and a curse because as much as I wanted to heal my baby, I was really beginning to miss food. I started to dream about all the forbidden food I wasn't able to enjoy. I can't tell you how many times I became enraged watching my husband eat dark chocolate in front of me. Oh ya, those first few weeks were excruciating. Did I mention that I started this the week before Christmas? I never knew how much self control I had until I was faced with holiday gatherings overflowing with decadent treats, baked breads and mashed potatoes and wasn't able to eat any of it. None. Zero. Zilch. I don't think I could have done it by myself, but us mommy's will do anything for our babies and so I refrained from enjoying and savoring the many goodies that the holidays have to offer. Days turned to weeks, and weeks to months and I before I knew it I had been doing this diet for almost three months. I had survived! I could hardly believe I did it. Of course, by the three month mark I had successfully added a whole plethora of delectable food to my once limited repertoire.
In addition to healing my baby, the total elimination diet had a surprising side effect on me. It reintroduced me to foods I had sworn off because I was certain I didn't like them. See, as you begin to add foods in, you start with the ones least likely to cause a reaction, and beets were high up on that list. I always knew how nutritious beets were, but I just never liked them- or so I thought. To be perfectly honest, I don't know if I had ever even tried a beet before this. Like them or not, with such a limited, restricted diet, any new food was a welcome addition and so I decided to give them a try. I began roasting them and loving them. Pretty soon, I was eating beets almost everyday!! I was thrilled with my new love affair with this almighty root vegetable but it always felt wrong to waste the beautiful greens sitting atop those crimson beets.
Along with everything else, I had temporarily given up my morning green smoothie, until all the goodies I put in there had passed the Dylan test. Finally, I had added enough foods back into my diet to begin drinking smoothies with the family again. I can't tell you how hard it was to make my family green smoothies everyday and not be able to enjoy them too! And while we're on that subject, I must tell you that I actually began to resent (gasp!) preparing delicious meals for them while I was eating plain turkey for the 23rd day in a row. I never thought I could feel such a way, since preparing nutritious meals for my family brings me immense pleasure and satisfaction. But, alas, the madness of the total elimination diet was coming to an end. I could now enjoy a whole array of nature's bounty, and I couldn't wait to make a beet green smoothie. Spinach and kale are our old standbys when it comes to greens for our smoothies, but kale was one of the foods that Dylan couldn't tolerate, and I hadn't added in spinach yet. Technically, I hadn't actually eaten the greens of the beet yet either, only the root, but since that passed with flying colors, I figured the greens would be a success as well and I was curious to see how they tasted in comparison to the greens we were so used to.
Beet greens are rich in vitamins A, C, E, K and B vitamins, as well as calcium and iron. They are a great source of dietary fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese. The beet root gets all the attention, but the greens are the real powerhouse and are actually more nutritious than the root. Always opt for fresh, organic beets with greens attached.
I was pleasantly surprised how palatable the beet greens were in our smoothie. I can handle and actually enjoy a stronger vegetable flavor, but my four year old son will not drink it if he doesn't enjoy it. And if he doesn't drink it, he can't reap all the benefits, so it has to taste good, not just be good for you. The flavor of the beet greens are easily masked by the addition of fruit in the smoothie. It has a slightly stronger flavor than spinach, but not nearly as robust as kale, and we use that all the time. I can't tell you how happy I am not to have to waste these beautiful greens anymore.
If it can pass the Jayden taste test, you know it's good!! "Tastes like Jamba Juice", is what he told me. I'd say that is a green smoothie success!!
Beet Green Smoothie
1 organic kiwi *(skin left on if you have a Vitamix, otherwise peel)
5 organic strawberries
handful organic red grapes
1/2 c organic wild blueberries, frozen
4 slices organic peaches, frozen
10- 12 organic beet green stalks, thoroughly washed
Place in Vitamix (or other high powered blender) in order listed. Blend and enjoy! You will feel the power of the greens all morning long!! This recipe made one big glass for mommy and a small, kid sized one for Jayden!
I leave the skin on my kiwi because I am fortunate enough to own a Vitamix. This marvelous blender is powerful enough to pulverize the skin and transform it into a silky, smooth texture. The skin of the kiwi, like the skin of many fruits and vegetables is where a majority of the vitamins and minerals lie. Kiwi skin is rich is flavanoids, fiber, and folic acid. It contains omega 3 fatty acids as well as alpha-linoleic acids. The flavanoids in kiwi skin have profound antioxidant properties which protect tissues and cells from free radicals. The folic acid contained in kiwi skin is beneficial in red blood cell production, maintenance of the nervous system, and involved in metabolism. I recommend buying organic kiwi if you are going to consume the skin, for that is where 99% of the pesticides reside. If you are going to peel it instead, choosing organic is not crucial, I would opt for the conventionally grown and save your money. I never buy organic for things I am going to peel, ie: bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, etc. Choosing organic produce is most critical when the skin cannot be peeled or for produce in which you want to consume the skin, like apples, peaches, and pears.