So, since starting my Nutritional Therapy course, I have been making an effort to add a more vegetables to my meals…like more varieties. I have always cooked most of our meals, which consisted mainly of a protein, a vegetable and a starch, or a mixture of the three in something like a soup or stew. Lately, I have been making a concerted effort to have more than one vegetable at a meal, with a larger variety of colors and also mixing in some raw and fermented vegetables.
One particular vegetable I have learned is especially beneficial to consume on a regular basis – and that happy little veggie is THE BEET. Are you surprised?! I know…beets are tricky. Many people don’t like them, and those that do have likely spent a long time developing a taste for them. I happen to LOVE beets! I look forward to them. Especially steamed until just tender and then mixed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and goat cheese. I could eat it for desert. YUM!
From my course with the Nutritional Therapy Association, I have learned that beets are especially good for our liver and gall bladder! Good news!
A little info on liver and gallbladder function (from what I have learned) … the liver and gallbladder are important parts of the digestive process…especially when it comes to digesting fats. (Your liver is involved in lots and lots of other necessary and important functions too, so keeping it running smoothly is super important!) With digestion, your liver produces bile, a substance that mixes with the fat we eat and helps to break it down into smaller, more absorbable molecules. The gallbladder stores this bile and releases it when you eat something containing fat. The problem is…when it comes to bile, our liver/gallbladder system kind of has a “use it or lose it” philosophy. We need to regularly eat healthy fats (grass-fed butter, olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, avocado, etc.) to keep this bile producing and flowing and mixing process going. If we don’t eat the healthy fats, the bile produced by the liver will just sit there and get thick and viscous and filled with toxins that the liver is trying to get rid of. When it IS needed…it will be sluggish and slow moving from the gallbladder and won’t be available to break down the consumed fats. A situation like this can make it hard to digest fats (even healthy ones) and greasy foods, the liver gets clogged up…affecting its ability to be effective with all of its other super important functions, causing all kinds of other problems – and can possibly lead to things like burping, reflux, gallbladder attacks and gall stones.
Ok. Back to BEETS….beets have a lot of super anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and contain a special ingredient called BETAINE which can help to support, protect and detoxify your liver. Nice! Beets have a lot of really useful fiber (helpful for…uh hum…constipation) and are rich in vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, niacin, copper and vitamin C. They also contain folic acid, wind, calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. Eating beets on a regular basis helps to thin the bile so it doesn’t get clogged up and keeps things moving! Add a little healthy fat (like the olive oil in this beet salad recipe) which will stimulate the gallbladder to release the bile, and you have a great combo for the liver & gallbladder. Awesome!
So, long story short…when we get into a sluggish liver or poor fat digestion situation like this (easy to do), eating a little bit of beets combined with a healthy fat… every day is a super simple way to get things going again. Yay!
Ok. So here is what I like to do. Make this quick little raw beet and carrot salad (yay! more fiber!) and add a little bit to just about everything. Seriously. We even eat it with eggs for breakfast. I make a big bowl of it, keep it in the fridge, and add a spoonful to each meal. Nice!
RECIPE: Raw Beet and Carrot Salad
(adapted from the “Liver Salad” learned at the Nutritional Therapy Association)
- 2 medium raw, peeled beets and thinly sliced or grated
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced or grated
- (you could also add some sliced green apple, or jicama, etc.)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar (I like it tangy!)
- 2-3 Tbs good quality olive oil
- a little sea salt
- Mix them all together. Cover. Refrigerate. Add a couple spoonfuls to everything!