Tag Archives: antioxidants

Beetroot and Carrot Salad

Beetroot and carrot salad

I used to think beetroots had to be cooked. Now I am wiser, I know they can be  raw. And may be more nutritious as a result.

Grating beetroots makes crunching effortless while an oil and vinegar dressing adds luxury. Carrots, also grated, are a perfect companion.

You know what they say: eat for colour: orange, reds (and more), each colour containing different immune-boosting nutrients.

I first came across the beetroot/carrot combo at the Better Food Cafe about seven years ago, and copied the idea, working out a version at home. 


Then turned it into a recipe for Grown in Britain CookbookI wish I had name-checked my inspiration so glad to be doing so now. My beetroots came from  the Better Food Company, too.


I peeled the carrots and beetroots, above. Grown organically, slowly, biologically, they are chemical-free and needed only scrubbing, plus the skin has nutrients. (But I am not perfect and peeling is faster).

I was taken with the yellow, white and purple carrots, as they used to be before 17th century Dutch growers went monoculture orange to praise William of Orange. Poetically, these 21st century rainbow carrots were grown in Holland.

Bear Fruit Bear Pit
I had bought my Dutch rainbow organic carrots at the Bear Fruit stall (above) in the Bear Pit, Bristol.

The Bear Pit is, by the way, an example of urban regeneration from the grass-roots-up. A dingy subway on a busy city roundabout now transformed by locals into a lively market and meeting place.

Beetroot and Carrot Salad – ingredients for four

  • 600g raw beetroot
  • 600g raw carrots
  • 50g sunflower seeds
  • Dressing: 4 tablespoon olive oil + 50ml balsamic vinegar
  • oil for frying/toasting + soy sauce for seeds
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh herbs (parsley, coriander) or snipped salad cress.
  • 1.1. Scrub/peel carrots and beetroot, and trim tops and tails. Keep carrots whole for grating. Peel the beetroot and cut in half. Grate the raw vegetables, using hand grater or food processor. Combine in large bowl and add olive oil and vinegar dressing.2. If not serving immediately, don’t add dressing yet. Instead, store covered in fridge. Remove 1 hour before serving to bring to room temperature. Then add dressing (below).

    3. For the vinaigrette, put the oil and vinegar in a screw-top jar, put the lid on tightly and shake vigorously.

    4. Gently heat olive oil in a small frying pan and toast the seeds for 3–4 minutes over a moderate heat, stirring to prevent sticking. Add the soy sauce at the end of the cooking, if using. Most of the sauce will evaporate, leaving a salty taste and extra browning for the seeds. Store the toasted seeds in a jar with a lid if preparing the day before.

    5. When ready to serve, add the chopped herbs to the grated beetroot and carrot. Shake the screw-top jar with vinaigrette, then pour over the vegetables, and season to taste. Toss the salad gently until everything glistens. Scatter the toasted seeds.

GM? No way, no thanks

First, an advert for healthy eating brought to you by Earthmother productions. Worried about your health? Eat organic and for colour! Nature has kindly colour-coordinated its plant nutrients so you can mix-and-match. Step forward orange carotenoids for vitamin A production and purple and deeply-green antioxidants for cell-restoration.

If the veg is organic you get more antioxidants for your money. Here’s why: if you spray a plant with pesticides (which is how most western food is grown), then its ability to produce antioxidants is decreased. Antioxidants are the fighting army that protect a plant from pests and there are more in organic food because the organic plant gets to keep its antioxidant army. Fade on ad.

And the UK government wants to re-open the GM debate! Crikey, as if we don’t have enough to contend with just trying to grow a few unsprayed organic veg.

GM crops are modified in a lab to tolerate a herbicide (weed killer) or produce an insecticide (insect killer). Farmers have to buy the GM seed and the proprietary pesticide (umbrella term for herbicide, insecticide and fungicide).

If GM seeds or pollen arrive accidentally on a field, GM companies can sue farmers for patent-infringement. California voted to protect farmers against such lawsuits in August. It’s more fair if the polluter-company pays for GM contamination, as the Welsh Assembly government proposes – and not the hapless farmer.

The pro-GM marketing spin says GM can feed the world – how selfish of me to stop a technology that saves the hungry! But it’s a lie. There are no GM crops designed to help the poor. The current GM crops are engineered for insect and weed-spraying – not to improve yields, vitamin A, drought-prevention or any of the other mythical scenarios dreamed up by well-meaning but misguided press officers.

The (so-called) environment minister, Phil Woolas, said people like me have a year to prove GM is unsafe.

A body of evidence is growing; the ill-health effects on animals is well-documented. But the fact is the science has not been done. Commercial planting of GM especially in the US has pushed ahead regardless.  Listen, there has only been one trial published worldwide on humans eating GM food. And that showed worrying results.

I think we need more science on the health effects of GM.

And, Woolas – it’s not up to me to provide it.

On a gentler note: the ingredients for supper came from Better Food organic supermarket, which also grew the organic veg 12 miles away. The chard was steamed, the carrots grated and the beetroot, cut very small, was – new discovery – pan-fried in olive oil for 20 minutes with sliced onion. Served on a bed of brown rice; 1 mug of rice to 2 mugs of water, simmered for 30 minutes – enough for two, and a rice salad the next day.