Tag Archives: Better Food Company

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.

Better health at Better Food

Better health campaign launch

The vegetables in the picture were organically grown by my local supermarket in a field at Chew Magna, seven miles outside Bristol.

They were on display on a table in the Better Food company‘s shop for its launch last Thursday of a three-month education campaign for Better Health.

Health begins with healthy soil as we organicists know. Phil Haughton, owner and grower put it well: “Without soil we don’t exist and good soil produces abundance like this.”

Then he introduced the two speakers, nutritionist Jamie Richards, who is the shop’s health supplement guru, and Alex Kirchin from Viridian, the ethical vitamins company with a Soil Association organic range.

I tool copious notes. Jamie’s campaign aims to offer ideas for lifestyle changes that are cheap, simple, safe, effective – and proven.

The smallest changes often make the biggest difference.

Here are some of my favourites from Jamie:

  • Make sure at least half your plateful is non-starchy veg (i.e. not potatoes)
  • All carbs to be complex such as brown rice
  • Eat oily foods such as nuts, seeds, fish
  • And breathe.

Alex Kirchin reminded us to take care of ourselves and used the analogy of putting on the oxygen mask in a plane before helping anyone else.

My favourite Viridian tip concerned Vitamin C.

When animals are stressed they manufacture extra Vitamin C.

However we are one of the few species who do not make Vitamin C at all.

That’s why we have to eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables.

I have a guilty secret: I don’t think I get enough immune-boosting Vitamin C in my diet.

So at the first hint of swollen glands, I take 1,000mg a day and have seen off many a cold or sore throat. In fact I believe Vitamin C could more useful than Tamiflu in beating swine flu.

Anyone else with a secret supplement habit?

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Winning summer snack

Summer snack

Lunch today: houmous, kidney beans and fresh alfafa bean sprouts, with olive oil + balsamic dressing.

In March I entered my food blog in the Guild of Food Writers‘ awards for New Media.

I prayed to be shortlisted.

I did not pray to win. I feared I’d get punished for being greedy.

(Talk about negative thought patterns!).

Anyway, last week, in the midst of goodbyes to salaried work – guess what? I hear some incredibly timely news: my blog has been shortlisted. Joy!

The awards take place on June 25 this year. Here is my report from last year’s awards.

I remember gazing at last year’s winners and wishing to be one.

O naked ambition!

There are only three of us shortlisted.

Helen Yuet Ling Pang of World Foodie Guide

Tim Hayward of the Guardian and Observer Food Monthly‘s Word of Mouth and myself.

I feel a bit self-conscious – like maybe I should make more effort?  But you know me

– I just want healthy fast food without fuss.

Like today’s lunch.

How much did it cost?  £1.70 for 200g of homemade organic houmous from Better Food Company, about 60p for the tin of non-organic beans and approx £1.40 for a packet of organic alfafa sprouts from Scoopaway – and plenty for several servings.

I must do bean sprouts justice in a future blog because they really are a wonderfood. And cheap and easy to sprout yourself.

I did do posh last Wednesday: a £30 six course taster menu at Casamia for a special birthday treat. I was too busy eating to pronounce but I can say the salmon poached in olive oil with Jerusalem artichoke puree (see pic below) got rated “better than the Fat Duck” by those (not me) who had dined there.

I have just reviewed my few past posts and noticed quite a few BEAN recipes. What can I say? Nothing beats them for health and budget. In fact I feel another one coming on…

Casamia salmon poached in olive oil with Jerusalem artichoke puree

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