This is a very hearty stew. Beets are also super healthy for you. Beets are rich in natural nitrates, that your body can turn into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps open your arteries, allowing more blood to flow. This is how nitroglycerin pills work for people who have chest pain- the pills dilate the coronary arteries to increase blood flow. What eating beets and other nitrogen-rich food (like arugula, cilantro, basil and swiss chard) means for you is increased blood flow and possibly improved blood pressure. Beets not only help dilate your arteries, but also let your body extract more energy from that oxygen. One study* showed that after cyclists sipped beet juice, they performed at the same intensity level while consuming 19% less oxygen than the placebo group. Their “time to exhaustion” was also extended by over 90 seconds when their intensity level was increased. Think about what that implies for physical competitions, cycling or otherwise! You can hijack your body to increase efficiency! Beets are better than pills or steroids at increasing body endurance.
- 2 beets with greens (washed)
- 3 medium-large Yukon gold potatoes (quartered)
- 1½ cup shredded cabbage and carrot mix (I use coleslaw mix)
- 4 cups water + few tbsp
- ¼ cup non-dairy plain unsweetened milk
- ½ chopped onion
- 15 oz can roasted diced tomatoes
- ½ – 1 tsp salt (to taste)
- 2 tbsp fresh dill + more for serving
First, carefully peel the skin from the beets, and cut them into quarters or large chunks. Chop the greens and set aside. Bring the 4 cups of water, salt, potatoes, beets, and greens to boil in a large pot.
In a separate pan over medium heat, sauté the onion in a few tbsp. of water for a few minutes. Then stir in the tomatoes and reduce the heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.
After the beets and potatoes are tender (~30 minutes), remove the beets and potatoes and place in a bowl. Cut half of them into bite-size pieces, and place back in the pot. With the rest, either place in them in a food processor and blend with the milk, or mash them by hand (with milk) and return to the pot. Add in the cabbage/carrots, tomato mixture, and the 2 tbsp chopped dill to the large pot. Simmer the stew for about 10 to 15 minutes (add salt and pepper to taste). When serving, top each bowlful with lots of fresh dill.
*Reference: Bailey, SJ, Winyard P, Vanhatalo A, et al. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2009; 107(4):1144-55.