There is a lot of fresh produce at the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market! There are plenty of cherries, raspberries, peas, baby carrots, potatoes, kale, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes, and there will be much more this month. The market will run as usual from 8 a.m.-noon on Saturdays at Millennium Park and Thursdays from 10-2 behind the chamber of commerce. Also, the Harvest Share program is now running. If you have extra produce that you’re unable to use or unable to pick, or if you would like to volunteer to pick, ask about the Harvest Share program at the farmers’ market or find contact information on the Creston Valley Food Action Coalition website (www.crestonfoodaction.ca).
Available at our local market now are beets. Beets come from the same family as Swiss chard, spinach and quinoa. Both parts of the beet are edible and very low in calories and high in fiber. The greens are high in antioxidants and vitamin A, which are good for the eyes and skin, while the root is a good source of vitamins B3, B5, B6 and minerals, like iron, manganese and magnesium. The root is also a good source of potassium.
When buying beets, be sure to choose beets that are firm and colorful, not soft and dull. Beets come in red, orange-yellow and white varieties, although red is the most common. In stores, usually the tops are removed, as the tops will draw the moisture and nutrition from the root of the vegetable. From the farmers’ market they usually come whole. Local beets are available from mid-July to December, although in the winter months they will not come with the greens attached.
To store them in your fridge at home, remove the greens before storing them. The greens will only last a short time, while the root will last up to a couple weeks in the fridge in a bag. Before using the greens, be sure to rinse them well under running water to remove any dirt. They can be eaten raw, lightly steamed or sautéed in butter.
To prepare the roots, gently clean any dirt off of them. If using them raw, peel the outer skin off and cut as desired. They can also be steamed after peeling and slicing to reduce the cooking time for especially large beets. You can also cook the beets first, either by boiling until tender or roasting, and then easily remove the skin with your fingers once the beets have cooled (although this will stain your hands!).
They are commonly used for their juice in detox programs. Beet juice has been proven to lower high blood pressure (although talk to your doctor before trying anything new). Beet roots are also excellent for the heart.
Beets can be enjoyed many different ways! They are delicious raw, grated over salads, pickled, thinly sliced into chips and baked until crispy or just steamed until tender, sliced and served with butter. The juice also makes a great natural food dye. Their most common use is in borscht, a delicious beet and cabbage soup.
Roasted Beets with Feta and Dill
8-10 small-medium sized beets
1/3 C feta or goat cheese, crumbled
1/3 C walnuts, raw or toasted, roughly chopped or broken up
handful of fresh dill, chopped
pinch of coarse salt, if desired
Preheat oven to 375 C. Remove the green tops and reserve for another use. Rinse the beets and drizzle with oil. Seal the beets in a tin foil package (placing the beets on the foil and then folding it over top and folding the edges). Place on a baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. You can check if the beets are done by poking with a fork; the centre should be tender.
Remove beets from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle. Then, using a paring knife, remove the very top of the beet where the greens were. Using your hands, rub the skin off the beet by squeezing it gently. Remove all of the skins and then slice the beets or cut into bite-sized pieces. Divide among four plates. Sprinkle with cheese, nuts and fresh dill. Sprinkle with a small pinch of coarse salt if desired and serve either warm or room temperature.
Heidi Bjarnason is a Creston Valley mom and blogger. For more recipes, ideas, pictures and kid friendly ideas and food, visit Fooddoodles.com.