Jessica Grosman is a Registered Dietitian, recipe developer, and culinary nutrition educator. Her goal is to excite people and get them into the kitchen to cook their own food and find better health through the food they prepare for themselves. She earned both a BS and MS in Nutrition, prior to completing a dietetic internship in 2001. Additionally, she graduated with honors from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition’s Culinary Nutrition Expert (CNE) program. Jessica’s passion is sharing her knowledge and education with others; she is experienced in teaching cooking & nutrition classes to a wide variety of audiences. She currently is working as a recipe developer, cookbook recipe tester, and teaches boutique cooking classes. When not in the kitchen creating deliciously nourishing recipes, Jessica enjoys reading, exercising, and traveling with her family.
February is here and Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Doesn’t it feel like we just finished celebrating the Holidays and the New Year? Have your health-focused New Year’s resolutions and goals become your daily routine?
I’ve started to plan my Valentine’s Day - the gifts for my husband and the menu that I’ll prepare for our romantic dinner. I like make recipes which remind me of love; oftentimes, I’ll make recipes inspired by a vacation we took together. This year, I’m making a dinner full of the colors of the holiday - shades of pink and red. Obviously, red beets will take a big role in the menu! Are you a fan of these beautiful root vegetables? To find out why you should be including beets in your diet, read on…
Why should you be eating more beets? Why are beets the perfect vegetable for this love and heart-themed holiday?
In ancient Roman times, beet juice was considered an aphrodisiac. Beets are a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid which promotes the feelings of well-being. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter which is responsible for mood balance; tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin. So consuming more tryptophan-containing foods, like beets, leads to increased levels of serotonin and thus better mood. The red color of beets comes from a pigment called Betalain. This natural pigment is also a good source of boron, which is a mineral critical for the production of human sex hormones. Furthermore, beets support the health of the blood and the heart. They are anti-carcinogenic, are used to treat anemia, they purify the blood, and have anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s merely coincidence that February is Heart Health Month, an initiative sponsored by the The Heart Foundation to educate people about heart disease. Although heart disease is quite preventable, it is also the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. One of the easiest and best ways to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, regardless of age or sex, is to eat a wide variety of vegetables and to minimize consumption of refined sugars. Beets are naturally sweet - adding beets to your salad, hummus, and even to your smoothie will provide an earthy delicious sweetness without the addition of refined sugars. And because beets are also full of fiber, the sugar is released much more slowly and is less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar.
What will you receive from your sweetheart on this day of love? Chocolates? Roses? Sexy lingerie? While all of those gifts are fine and well-appreciated, you can show your love by making a delicious recipe that has wonderful health benefits, too!
Roasted Beet Hummus
made with Soom Tahini
Hummus, the smooth blend of mashed chickpeas, tahini, and seasonings, has gained popularity in the past many years - it’s nearly ubiquitous on restaurant menus and in home refrigerators. I’ve been making my own hummus for awhile; the great thing about making it yourself is that you can add different flavor combinations and really personalize your blend, all with just the addition or substitution of a few simple ingredients. For Valentine’s Day, I’m making this beautifully-colored recipe.
Ingredients: (use organic whenever possible)
1 small beet
1 can (14oz) chickpeas, liquid reserved
2 T Soom tahini
2 t extra-virgin olive oil
1 t freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 t ground sumac
3/4 sea salt
Roast the beet. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the beet and remove any leaves or long stems. Wrap the beet in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 45 min. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while still wrapped in foil. (beet can be roasted 1 day in advance, keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to proceed with the recipe)
Make the hummus. Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas and reserve the liquid. Place chickpeas, tahini, 2T chickpea liquid (also known as aquafaba), olive oil, and lemon juice into a food processor and pulse until the chickpeas start to break-down. Remove the skin from the cooled beet, chop the beet into 1-inch chunks and add to the food processor. Add the salt and sumac and continue to blend until the mixture is completely smooth. Stop and scrape-down the sides of the bowl, as necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Remove mixture to a bowl, cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
Recipe yields 6 generous servings
Hummus can be made 2 days in advance of serving. Keep covered and chilled.
Serve hummus as a dip with your favorite crudite, as a sandwich spread, or with falafel.