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Beetroot Rules!

We're just getting through the last of the fresh beetroot for the season, before I pickle the remainder for winter eating.

Beetroot was the first food both of my girls tasted when I weaned them, and is now an absolute family favourite and we eat it in many guises: simply baked; as borscht (beetroot soup); beetroot tatin; beetroot pie; beetslaw; grated into a salad. See below for recipes. Beetroot is an absolute super food and here's why you should eat it too! The colour - provided by the antioxidant betacyanin, is cancer-preventative and anti-inflammatory. The juice - 250ml every day has been shown to reduce elevated blood pressure. The fibre - helping lower cholesterol and ensure healthy bowel movements. The nutritional content - it contains good levels of iron, potassium, magnesium, folic acid, as well as vitamins A, B6, and C. In Tradititional Chinese Medicine, beetroot are said to build the blood, improve circulation and moisten the intestines, improving constipation. Beetroot are dead easy to grow - I sow them in March modules and plant them out early April - with a cloche if it's cold, and then I try and direct sow half a row every 3-4 weeks, to ensure a steady supply. Once they're golfball-sized, you can start to harvest them - usually about 8-10 weeks later. 3 of these golfball sized beetroot make up one portion of your five-a-day. Baked Beetroot Simply put 6-8 beetroot into a glass dish, with a lid. Cover and bake at 200C for approximately 2 hours. They'll yield easily to a knife-point when they're done - I usually turn the oven off, and leave them in as it cools. The following day, I peel them with a knife - the skins slip off easily when they're properly cooked. The important thing about baking beetroot is that all those valuable antioxidants stay in the vegetable, rather than leaching out into the water and being thrown out. Beetslaw In a magimix, grate 3 large peeled carrots, a hunk of cabbage and 2 medium peeled beetroot. Mix and serve with a vinaigrette. I always make a large box, as it keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days, and is easily bulked out with a tin of kidney beans for lunch. Borscht There are many recipes for beetroot soup, but my simplest is equal parts baked beetroot and potato, cooked in chicken stock for 20 minutes and then blitzed. Serve with a swirl of plain yoghurt. Beetroot Tatin Melt about 50g butter in an oven-proof frying pan, and sprinkle with unrefined sugar. Lay slices of baked beetroot (use 4-7) in concentric rings. Lay a circular piece of ready-made all-butter puff pastry, tucking the edges in. Bake in a hot oven for approximately 20 minutes. Turn out onto a plate and serve warm with goats' cheese and salad. Above all - enjoy your beetroot and it's health benefits.

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