GROW FOOD slow food Have your garden and eat it too. A practical guide to organic gardening in the sub-tropics with step-by-step instructions and delicious seasonal recipes. Come with me too on some of my travels in Australia, Europe, Asia and beyond.

BEETROOT is one of those foods that is increasingly popping up on my FOOD JOURNEY. 

I never took to it before, but I now really LOVE it.  The trouble is most of us are stuck with the taste and image of that ‘stuff” from our childhood – the pickled variety that went with Sunday salad: iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and salad cream.  I loved a segment of Jamie Oliver ‘At Home’ where he did a spoof on this salad and then, at the end, threw the iceberg lettuce in the air and then blasted it with a double-barrel shotgun.  My Aunty Phil, the gods bless her, even had a speciality of pickled beetroot with raspberry jelly!!!!.  Forget about all of that,  I am about to convert the unconverted – here goes.


 Researchers at Wake Forest University in North Carolina have shown that a diet that includes about 500ml of beetroot juice per day helps improve blood flow to certain regions of the brain in older people.  In particular the effects were noted in the frontal lobe – a part of the brain that commonly experiences reduced blood flow in age-related dementia and cognitive decline.  The effect is likely to occur because beetroot juice (like spinach, celery, cabbage and other leafy green vegetables) is a good source of nitrates.  These compounds are converted into nitrites by the good bacteria in the mouth, and act as vasodilators – in other words they have the capacity to open the blood vessels and enhance blood flow”  Gardening Australia 2011



River Cottage Beetroot Brownies

THESE ARE VERY GOOD  I saw Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on his ‘River Cottage’ TV programme rise to the challenge of making a whole meal (3 courses) from beetroot.  This was one of them.

250g butter
250g chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 eggs
250g caster sugar
150g S.R. wholemeal flour
Sea salt
250g grated cooked beetroot


Heat oven to 180oC
Melt chocolate and butter together in large pan on low heat.  Cool
Beat together eggs and sugar.
Add egg mixture to chocolate and butter
Stir in flour and salt
Gently stir in grated beetroot
Spread in shallow square pan lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 20-25 mins.
Do not over cook otherwise they become too crumbly.

I made these for my Garden Club today and was lucky to get a photo before they disappeared.

QUICK TIPS ON GROWING BEETROOT:  Beetroot prefer to be grown in moist, fertile soil in a sunny spot, but will also thrive in raised beds or pots.  For foolproof beetroot, sow seeds directly into the soil every few weeks for an almost continuous crop.  Pick the leaves for salad mix and harvest beet from golf ball to apple size – full maturity takes about 90 days.

EAT YOUR GREENS!  All parts of the beetroot are edible.  Try this simple Greek recipe for eating the stems and leaves.

FIND OUT OTHER EDIBLE PLANTS IN THE BEETROOT FAMILY – they don’t get eaten by the cabbage white butterfly 

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