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Baked Zucchini, Beet and Sweet Potato Fritters

February is American Heart Month - let’s show your ticker some love! Why is heart health so important? Heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the US. When I worked in the hospital, I spent time on multiple units dedicated to patients with heart disease. It really can have devastating effects on your life and your ability to perform daily activities. There is some good news about heart disease, though, in that good lifestyle choices have a huge effect on preventing it! Some of the major risk factors for developing heart disease are smoking, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and being overweight. Keep loading up your plate with veggies and exercising, and your heart will be in good shape.

As a dietitian, it’s my job to help you navigate the diet portion of the whole lifestyle picture. How can you optimize your diet specifically for heart health? The Standard American Diet (SAD) falls short in heart healthy foods. It is high in saturated fat, processed meats, refined grains, sodium and added sugar. Diets consisting of lots of red meat, butter, margarine, deep fried foods and processed foods can lead to atherosclerosis (plaque buildup) and hypertension. On the other hand, the Mediterranean diet is a really great eating pattern to choose for heart health. This diet includes plenty of fresh produce, fish and seafood, whole grains, legumes and healthy fats coming primarily from olive oil. This eating pattern is naturally high in heart healthy nutrients like potassium and antioxidants, and low in sodium and saturated fat. Consume an abundance of these foods on a regular basis for optimal heart health!

While I don’t think it’s possible that eating a specific food can prevent or cure a disease, there are a few particular foods that are especially important for heart health. Try adding the following foods to your diet more regularly!

  • Salmon or fatty fish: These foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to improve blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Aim for about 8 oz of seafood a week, or consider taking an omega-3 supplement.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber, which can help decrease the amount of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol absorbed into your bloodstream. Aim for 5-10 grams per day.
  • Beets: Beets are rich in nitrates, which are converted to nitric oxide in your body, which helps lower blood pressure. They are also rich in antioxidants and fiber. I love to keep a few packs of Love Beets in my fridge to quickly throw into salads or grain bowls!
  • Beans: Beans are an amazing source of plant based protein. They also contain resistant starch, a nutrient that is fermented by your gut bacteria and may lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. Try replacing meat with half a cup of beans for one meal next week!
  • Olive Oil: This is a staple ingredient of the Mediterranean diet, and is one of my favorite cooking oils. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, high in monounsaturated healthy fats and low in saturated fat. Choose olive oil when cooking to replace butter, lard or margarine, and drizzle it over salads with vinegar for a simple dressing.

I made these delicious fritters to add to my lunches over the week! I picked up a big package of Love Beets at Costco, and wanted to experiment with using them as an ingredient for a heart healthy recipe. This recipe features lots of good-for-your-heart nutrients, like nitrates, antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats. I also baked these fritters with olive oil spray, rather than deep frying them to  keep them light and limiting added fat. They’re delicious on their own, or spread with a heart healthy dip like guacamole or hummus!

This recipe made 9 large fritters, but might vary for you based on the size of your veggies.

 Ingredients

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 package of Love Beets organic cooked beets
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • Half of 1 large white onion
  • 1-2 eggs
  • ¼ cup spelt flour (or all purpose)
  • ½ tsp each salt and pepper
  • Olive oil spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with olive oil spray.
  2. Grate the zucchini, beets, sweet potatoes, garlic and onion using a grater or food processor with grater attachment. Use a clean tea towel to squeeze out excess liquid with your hands. I grated each vegetable and squeezed out the liquid individually (because the zucchini and beets have more liquid than the others), then combined them in a large bowl.
  3. Scramble 1 egg and add to the bowl of veggies, along with flour, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. If you are unable to form loose patties with your hands and ingredients are not sticking together, add another egg to help bind ingredients.
  4. Form round patties, about 3 inches across, using your hands, squeezing out extra liquid once more in the process. Place each patty on the prepared baking sheet. Give the patties a quick spritz of olive oil spray on top.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until patties begin to brown and crisp up, then flip and bake for another 10 minutes.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature. I served these with a simple avocado mash with lemon juice, salt and garlic powder.

If you guys try this recipe, tag @daisybeet on Instagram so I can see your creations!

Thank you Love Beets for sponsoring this post! I’m grateful to partner with brands I love to cook with, and all opinions are my own.

Featured

Maple Roasted Carrots with Ginger Beet Tahini Sauce (Vegan, Gluten Free)

When your boyfriend willingly chooses to snack on carrots straight out the fridge, you know you’ve made a winning recipe. As a dietitian, few things give me more satisfaction than seeing people genuinely enjoy eating vegetables. When prepared thoughtfully, vegetables can easily be the most delicious part of your meal!

Many people I’ve talked to grew up having pretty boring vegetables! If I were served a plate of plain steamed or boiled broccoli, I wouldn’t be too excited about things either. When teaching people how to prepare vegetables they enjoy, I have two big tips. The first is to change the way you are preparing your veggies. My favorite way to cook veggies is roasting them in the oven! The high dry heat coaxes out the flavor, caramelizes them, and adds an irresistible crispy texture. Also, try roasting veggies at a higher temperature than you are used to doing. Instead of 350 degrees, try 400! I generally roast in the 400-425 degree range to really maximize flavor. My second tip is to master a few sauces to drizzle over cooked veggies. A good sauce transforms even steamed veggies into something really delicious. Some of my favorites I have in my back pocket are peanut sauce, sesame ginger sauce and pesto! Sauces may seem intimidating, but they are actually quite simple and come together quickly.

These carrots are both roasted and topped with a new favorite sauce recipe – packing DOUBLE the flavor punch! I added some maple syrup to the carrots before roasting, which really elevates their flavor and brings out their natural sweetness. This ginger beet tahini sauce is super creamy, zingy and versatile. It would be great served with other vegetables, drizzled on a grain bowl, or as a creamy salad dressing!

Ingredients:

Carrots

  • 2 small bunches of carrots, tops removed and scrubbed
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 ½ tbsp pure maple syrup
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley and ¼ cup crushed pistachios for garnishing

Ginger Beet Tahini Sauce

  • ½ cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 3 small Love Beets organic cooked beets + juice from package
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Add carrots to baking sheet and drizzle with avocado oil and maple syrup. Add salt and pepper and toss to coat carrots evenly.
  3. Roast for 40-45 minutes until carrots are fork tender and beginning to caramelize, turning carrots halfway through.
  4. While carrots cook, prepare the sauce. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add water, 1 tbsp at a time as necessary to aid blending.
  5. Arrange carrots on a serving platter. Drizzle with beet tahini sauce and sprinkle with fresh parsley and crushed pistachios. Serve warm. These carrots are also delicious cold, so if you have leftovers, save them to munch on or throw into salads!

If you guys try this recipe, tag @daisybeet on Instagram so I can see your creations! 🙂

white bean dip

Dreamy Pink Beet + White Bean Dip

First recipe of 2019! I hope you all had a happy New Year’s Eve and are feeling ready to conquer any goals you may have set for yourself. I’m not huge on resolutions, but I am committed to using less plastic this year! Have you guys set any for 2019?

New Years is probably the most popular time for people to pursue health and wellness goals. I applaud anyone who is seeking to better their health! I hope you are able to create lasting lifestyle changes during your journey.

One thing I’ve noticed on social media is people partaking in restrictive eating patterns for the month of January, in an effort to kick off better health. I’ve specifically seen people dedicating the month to consuming no sugar and Whole30. While it is very beneficial to limit added sugars, and while Whole30 does include healthy, nutrient dense foods, these patterns are hardly sustainable for the long term. When we restrict ourselves completely from having certain food groups, we may miss out on important nutrients, and we may also miss out on a little bit of life! Eating should always be a balance between nourishment and enjoyment. We should be giving our bodies what they need, but also what they crave. I believe it is this balance that allows us to maintain good physical and mental health, because it cultivates a healthy relationship with food.

So, if you guys were considering eliminating entire food groups for the month, I encourage you instead to focus on what you can ADD to your diet for better health! Maybe that means you try 3 new vegetables this month, or switch up the type of whole grain you usually make with dinner. This could also mean finding creative ways to add nutrient dense foods to dishes. Adding greens to smoothies, zucchini noodles to pasta dishes or BEETS to a homemade dip are all simple, fast ideas.

I made this white bean dip to snack on for the week, and it is the prettiest shade of pink, thanks to the addition of beets! This root veggie sometimes gets a bad rap for tasting earthy (I happen to love the taste), but it really is a nutrition powerhouse. Beets are high in nitrates, which, when converted into nitric acid in the body, can lower blood pressure. They are also high in antioxidants! If you’d like to include beets in your diet for the health benefits, but aren’t keen on the taste, try this dip! You really can’t taste the beet flavor, thanks to the delicious lemon juice, tahini, garlic and spices.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium cooked beet, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt to taste
  • Crackers and veggie sticks for serving

Instructions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine ingredients and puree until smooth.
  2. Serve with crackers, pita or veggies for dipping.

Can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days after making.

If you guys try this recipe, tag @daisybeet on Instagram so I can see your creations! 🙂

Ginger Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes, and Pears

Even though Thanksgiving is still a week away, I can’t help but feel excited for Christmas. I get very nostalgic around this time of year, and start to miss my family even more than usual. There is nothing I love more than to be surrounded by everyone I love with a cozy fire, good food and lots of laughter. Growing up, my extended family would gather for a huge Christmas Eve party every year.  My sisters and I LIVED for these parties, as we got to stay up late with our cousins, eat plenty of cookies, and meet Santa Claus (AKA my Uncle Erik). These days, my favorite part of the holidays has become helping my mom out in the kitchen. I love preparing big batches of roasted veggies and desserts with her in our pajamas, listening to Christmas music. I truly cherish these moments, and hope it never changes.

This year, I am absolutely bringing these roasted beets, sweet potatoes, and pears to the table. I am so excited to share this recipe with you guys. If you’re looking for a healthy side dish to share with your family and friends, this is the one! It’s simple, inexpensive, and mouthwatering.  I’m so happy with the way this turned out! The flavors blend so beautifully thanks to fresh ginger and thyme, and is a celebration of fall produce. This recipe will suit many dietary needs - it is vegan, paleo and gluten free!

Traditional side dishes are often laden with unhealthy ingredients. While I am ALL for indulging a bit during the holidays, I definitely feel run down and lethargic after a few days of eating like this. What I love most about this recipe is how nutrient dense it is, without compromising on amazing flavor! Beets are an excellent source of fiber and contain organic nitrates. These nitrates are converted into nitric oxide in the body, which helps blood vessels relax, and thus may play a role in lowering blood pressure. Sweet potatoes are a richer source of vitamins and minerals, like beta-carotene, than their white counterparts. They also have a low glycemic index, so the sugars from sweet potatoes are released slowly and steadily into the blood. This does not cause a sharp spike in blood sugar levels like more refined carbohydrates.

I hope you all try this recipe for a holiday gathering and share with your loved ones! What are your favorite holiday traditions? I would love to hear all about them!

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-large beets, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes (I actually keep the skin on as it does not bother me, but most people prefer beets without the skin)
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, diced into 1 inch cubes (peel or keep skin on, either works)
  • 2 green anjou pears (ripe but still firm)
  • 1-2 tsp fresh thyme
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine beets, onion, garlic, ginger, salt and about 1 tbsp avocado oil. Toss so veggies are well coated in oil. Spread beet mixture evenly on baking sheet, and roast for 15 minutes.
  3. While beets are roasting, combine sweet potatoes, pears, thyme, salt, and remaining oil in bowl.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes and pears to the baking sheet and mix to combine.
  5. Place mixture back into the oven and roast for an additional 40-50 minutes. Toss mixture halfway through.
  6. Add more salt to taste after cooking, and garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy warm or cold – it tastes delicious either way!