If you would have told me 2 years ago I would ever eat beets I would have called you insane.
If you would have said that I would eat them almost daily I would have suggested you get your head examined.
But here I am, a beet eating (almost loving) fool.
But HOW? And more importantly WHY?
Well, despite the fact that I have been on a focused fitness path for the greater part of my adult life, it has been in the last few years that I have begun to focus in on what I eat. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been what most would consider a good eater for some time. I’ve always loved to cook and I’ve stayed on top of whatever food trends seem to be gaining traction in the fitness world. The thing is, it took my health (not the outward appearance of my body) to force me to shift my relationship with food. As I began to experience autoimmune flares (and eventually find myself hospitalized a few times) I began to research how I could use food to HEAL my body.
I stopped struggling with food; meaning I took my attention off of weight loss and athletic performance. Instead, I focused on fueling my body for optimum health. **SN: when you fuel your body for optimal health, perfect weight and improved athletic performance are natural byproducts** I researched the systems of the body paying particular attention to those that present a challenge for me: digestive, urinary and reproductive. I determined that there is clear evidence (both scientific and anecdotal) that what we eat matters to every cell in our body. If I wanted to heal, I had to listen to my body.
Slowly but surely I stepped away from a dieters mentality. That was hard because our society has conditioned us to ‘diet’. Rather we need it or not! That was the first realization. I did not need to lose weight. I needed to get well. So therefore I needed to eat foods to get me there. I examined with new eyes how my peers (including those in the fitness world) ate. Generally speaking… we do not eat a lot of real food. Protein bars, shakes, goos and gels all acceptable ways to fuel our bodies. In addition, most people don’t enjoy much of what they eat at all. They see food as serving a purpose; for the dieter the goal is to limit food for the purpose of weight loss for the food addict, food might provide emotional comfort. The bottom line is… very few people eat for health or for true enjoyment.
I considered that fact that despite the fancy packaging and enticing marketing… processed food is not exciting. Nor does it taste good. Walk over to the produce section and now you are talking eye candy! Food that represents the colors of the rainbow; that stand alone. No bells or whistles needed. Just good solid nutrition. Just as God intended.
First decision: Fall in love with food. REAL FOOD. Its healing properties and its taste.
Nothing like being sick to make you appreciate your body and the beautiful temple God created it to be. I LOVED my body for what it had done for me when I needed it to. I was thankful to God for my healing. The least I could do is acknowledge this gift with my food choices.
So what does all of this have to do with Beets?
I started paying attention to the value of my food and considering how I could increase it. I incorporated juicing, soups and salads… all big bangs for my buck.
I paid attention to what is offered locally and seasonally. To which foods my body needed to function optimally.
This is where beets entered the picture.
As I worked to increase the nutritional value of my food, beets kept coming up. Beets are known detoxifiers, considered a super antioxidant and have brain boosting properties. The are also a great anti inflammatory food AND aphrodisiac.
Now despite ALLLL of this, I just ignored them at first. I had never tasted them because the smell alone gave me drive heaves. I am not a picky eater so I took the revulsion very seriously. I mean apparently my body did not want them, right?
It was just a sign of a lifetime of conditioning. Once I recognized that, I became determined to overcome my disdain for beets. Like a challenge. We all know how much I like a challenge. 😉
I wanted to see if I could change my own mind about beets.
I had enough sense to realize that I was powerless over my gag reflex so I needed to hide them in my food. I began making my smoothies with beets. Now because of their rich color (a huge sign that something is good for you by the way) there is not mistaking that beets were in the smoothie. But by juicing with fruits and vegetables with strong flavors (such as pineapple and ginger) I was able to almost completely mask the taste. Every few days I increased the amount of beets in the smoothie and decreased the amount of the other foods. Some days I was more successful than others but after a few weeks of this, I had no issue with the beets in my smoothie! I continued my beet green smoothies for several months. However, I rotate my vegetables so I didn’t have them every single day.
This past Fall beets became seasonly available. My local Whole Foods started offering several dishes that featured beets. I decided to try beets outside of my smoothies and guess what? I didn’t die! No more queasiness. I could handle the smell, I could chew it up and I could swallow. Again and again. Over and over. For me, this was monumental. I started getting a side dish containing beets on my weekly trip to the store. Beets with goat cheese… quinoa with beets… beet slaw… I tried it all.
The final frontier was cooking with them. More about that in part two. For now, here is my signature smote which contains beets as a star player. Tell me what you think!
(Pssst… A contest is coming in Part 2!)