Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beets and Kale

A student of mine, Kelsey, was telling me that she tries to buy one thing at the grocery each visit, that is not on her list, as a treat to herself.  Sometimes it's an indulgence while other times it's an ingredient to use in a new recipe. I love that idea! I have been buying a challenge ingredient when shopping in order to try new things.  This week was bean sprouts (I'm working on that recipe and will unveil it soon).  A few weeks ago I bought beets and kale.  They have been on my mind recently.  Lately I have heard people talking about them, I have read people's blogs about them, yet I never buy them. I decided that if I put them in my shopping basket and brought them to my house, I might just prepare and eat them!

A bunch of parents at our school have cute green bumper stickers that boldly proclaim "EAT MORE KALE" on the rear of their cars.  When I see them I think to myself, "Yes, good idea!" Yet I can't authentically sport this exhortation on my vehicle since I never cook with Kale.  "EAT MORE APPLES!" or "EAT MORE GRANOLA!" or perhaps, "EAT MORE MUFFINS", yes, I could promote those themes and not be a hypocrite!  But I'm working on it.  I have taken their challenge to heart.

Pink Radio Cake (made with beets)
And Beets.  Beets have been on my mind because Fido, the local restaurant I mentioned recently (the place that taught me to love Oatmeal), has several baked goods in their case that incorporate beets.  Their fabulous baker, Lisa, uses them for the color (Pink Radio Cake), nutrition (Beet it Muffin) and oomph.  I have been inspired.  I just don't typically think about beets.

When I was in graduate school there was a little Vegetarian dive that my classmates and I would frequent. I always ordered this great salad with julienned carrots and beets on top of a bed of lettuce, along with sprouts and other tasty items.  I remember being a fan of the texture, color and juiciness.  Alas, my beet eating ceased when that place closed a decade ago.

Several weeks ago, my produce-loving, recipe-trying, inventive friend, Claire, sent me this recipe for Chocolate Beet Muffins and I was inspired.  I made them and they were fabulous! I am a fan.  I couldn't wait to share them with you!  I mean, add semi-sweet chocolate chips to anything and how can you go wrong?

So, here are my recent adventures with Beets- (Kale Adventures will have to wait for another post).

I roasted beets and sliced some for salads and pureed some for muffins.  (Muffins are, by the way, my favorite food to bake- for tips I've learned along the way, go HERE).

Roasting Beets:
(If you need to use canned beets you can, but fresh roasted ones are preferred)

Cut the stems off of the beets, rub them in olive oil, wrap them in a foil packet on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 or 400 degrees (depending on how hot your oven is) and let them roast for an hour.  Peel skins off.  
stems removed

ready for the oven
roasted and sliced

Salad with  Feta, Avocado, Berries & Beets

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1- 2 Tbsp flax seed (optional)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp kosher salt
½ cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips (chopped)

4 Tbsp. butter
2/3 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup beet puree
2/3 cup low fat buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease the cups of 12 muffin liners, placed in the muffin pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the first 5 ingredients until well combined.  Stir in the half cup chocolate chips and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the other 2/3 cup chocolate and butter over very low heat.  Stir to combine and set aside to cool. 

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, beet puree, buttermilk, vanilla and melted chocolate.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.  Don’t over mix. Immediately spoon batter into 12 lightly greased paper lined muffin cups.

Batter should completely fill the cups. Sprinkle tops with Turbinado sugar if you want.
I wish they kept their red color when baked...so vibrant!
Place muffin pan in oven preheated to 375 degrees and bake for 18 minutes or until done- don’t overbake.
Let muffins cool on wire rack.

The post-it that came home from Lainey's teacher,
and our reply back!
YUMMY! They are so good.
I shared one with my kids' teachers and this was the post-it note I got from Lainey's teacher in her school folder.  I'm telling you- they are delicious!

Now if you are like my mother and are asking, "Why would you mess up a chocolate muffin by adding beets?" I would tell you, "because beets offer protection against coronary artery disease and stroke, lower cholesterol levels, have anti-aging effects and are a natural cleanser, removing toxins from the body and nourishing the bloodstream, " or something like that!

So take the challenge- add something daring to your grocery basket and see what adventures await you in the kitchen!


  1. I love beets too-I've never roasted them (I will now!), but I could eat them straight from the can. And I have a great recipe for soup with kale in it. It holds up well and gives it texture. And I feel super healthy eating it! :) Okay, now I have to buy beets and make muffins!!! This weekend!!

  2. Julie! I'm thrilled I found your blog! How did I not know?? I can't wait to try some of your yummy recipes and your pictures are so creative! Look forward to keeping up with you....we miss you!

  3. love that challenge ingredient!

  4. Hi Katherine- Welcome- we miss you too!

  5. i got beets in my CSA today and remembered this post. i can't wait to roast them AND try these muffins if i have enough. yay!

  6. Hi Julie! It was great to chat with you at Trinity a few weeks ago! I've been a closet-reader for quite a while now (thanks to Susanna!)- but it's time for me to start being a commenter, and not just a reader:) Matt and I spent an incredible amount of time at Fido this weekend catching up with old friends who were in town for the wedding (love that place!)- I saw their beet muffins and knew I had beets at home from our CSA last week... and remembered seeing this recipe. So I went digging back through your archives and made them yesterday! Delicious! I substituted 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil and 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil in place of the butter and they were awesome! Thanks for the recipe!!