Raw Beet Salad
Beets are super high in betacyanin, a phyto-nutrient associated with their deep red color. Unfortunately, according to what I have read, this anti-cancer chemical is destroyed by cooking. Though Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine do not at all advocate for a raw food diet, there is no reason why you can’t include raw vegetables into an Ayurvedic cuisine.
But raw beet alone is relatively unpalatable, with a pretty tough texture, though its color is superb and it gives a bit of zing by its spiciness.
One simple way is just to put shredded raw beet into salads, whenever the weather is hot enough or your Agni/digestive fire strong enough to tolerate salad. (And let me say, right here, that it is Pitta types who can eat more raw food to start with, because of their inherently strong Agni.)
I love spicing up my cabbage salads on with shredded raw beet. I have a recent post on cabbage with my cole slaw recipe. I have recently made a nice cole slaw with shredded beet and mizuna greens added.
Pitta-Kaphas are especially good candidates for raw food, because they have strong Agni and strong stability, and all that fiber in the raw diet pacifies their Kapha, if care is taken to not aggravate it with too much cold and sweet. (Some raw fooders end up with way too much fruit). Just use enough spice to balance.
My friend Edith, a fine Moroccan Jewish cook from Venezuela, makes a cooked beet salad, that reminds me, too of my friend Julia Fischer’s Provencal style beet salad, with the difference that one uses Cumin as its spicy element, and the other fresh Marjoram. Both use garlic and olive oil.
One of the recipes involves boiling the beets whole and then peeling–boiling them whole keeps the flavor and color in– while in the other you cook sliced beets in water, which gives a milder taste to the beet, and a wonderful red sauce you can dip bread into or ladle onto things like rice.
Here are the two recipes, which I make sometimes with shredded raw beet instead of cooked.
The combination of olive oil and garlic in both salads is a pretty good “remedy” for the Vatta aggravating quality of the raw beet. Vatta’s, especially when imbalanced, find too much insoluble fiber quite aggravating. But if you stimulate their Agni in the preparation, and they balance their mental Vatta, they can tolerate a little raw veggie even on a daily basis.
Edith’s Sephardic Beet Salad
Boil whole unpeeled beets until you can push a fork through easily.
Allow to cool. If in a hurry, place in a bowl of cold water.
Peel easily with a blunt knife.
Slice into half moons, or chop into small chunks.
Crush one clove of garlic for each beet.
Add 1/8 tsp fresh ground cumin powder for each beet, more or less.
Combine with enough extra virgin olive oil of your choice, say 1/2 tsp per beet to start (and this is a case for a strong tasting oil, like Cretan or Tunisian, which will come through the other strong flavors.)
Sea salt and fresh ground Tellichery Black Pepper to taste.
Squeeze a little lemon if you want a more sour taste.
Julia Fischer’s Provencal Beet Salad
Peel your beets, and then slice into half moons slices, that is cut in half, and then slice.
Place in a saucepan with enough water to cover.
Add one tablespoon olive oil per 2-3 beets.
Add one tablespoon balsemic vinegar.
Sea salt and black or white pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil and simmer till done.
Near the end add a teaspoon or two of fresh marjoram.
You could substitute Turkish or Greek dried oregeno.
Last year I grew a wonderful Syrian oregano, which is milder than Italian.
Thyme is also a choice, but in great moderation.
Ayurveda Dosha Analyis for the above as made with RAW beet:
Beets are naturally sweet and therefore increase Kapha, especially when cooked, as this brings out their sweetness and their sour quality, too. However how much beet is anyone going to eat? For Americans, the amount of Kapha vitiation (aggravation) that is going to occur from cooked beet is really minimal, especially compared with all the sugar rich foods we eat.
On the other hand, the fiber in beet is Kapha pacifiying, as is the fact they they are spicy as well. Just bite a raw beet and tell me how sweet it is compared to a carrot. Moreover, since Kapha is cold and heavy, if you take note of that in your food prep method, 99% of Kapha types will be fine, if taking beet in moderation. (Is there any other way for a Kapha to act?)
For example, juice beet and carrot with green leafy vegetables and a little ginger root. In the above recipe, the garlic and black pepper pacify Pitta, and olive oil is warming, too. Just don’t use too much oil, as all fat raises Kapha.
It also significant what you eat your beet salad, raw or cooked with. If you eat the above with a huge portion of bread, Kapha is raised. But if you eat it with a little quinoa, and cooked beans, you have a very Kapha balanced, if not pacifying meal
Raw beets increase pitta, because they are spicy, but cooked beets, being sweet are pitta pacifying. This makes cooked beet an excellent summer food. Polish Jewish style borsch is a perfect example, where cooked beet and kefir are pureed together for a lovely cooling drink. I will post my recipe soon. If you live in New York City, the borch at some of the old delis is a good model.
So the above recipe cooked is neutral or pacifying for Pitta, but go easy on the pepper and garlic, or even eliminate it if you have a Pitta condition like eczema. The above recipe done raw might be too hot for many Pittas, but could be combined with other Pitta pacifying foods within a meal.
Too much raw food definitely aggravates Vata. But this dish, with its warming spices and olive oil is about as Vata balanced as you can get with raw vegetables. Even salt pacifies Vata. So you can eat in moderation with something that pacifies Vata, like a good fresh baked naturally sourdough bread, such as you can get here in San Diego at Bread and Cie.
Ayurveda Bottom Line:
RAW: made as above is neutral or pacifying to Kapha, (spicy, warm, fiber) slightly raising to Pitta, (spicy, warm) and neutral to Vata (spicy, warm, but rough)in moderation. Combine or modify as above for Pitta.
COOKED: as above is pacifying to Vata (sweet, warm, sour, salty), pacifying or neutral to Pitta if not too much garlic, pepper, or vinegar, (sweet), neutral or aggravating to Kapha (sweet, sour, but warm and spicy).
copyright eyton j. shalom, san diego june 2010 all rights reserved use with permission
Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diegohttp://new.bodymindwellnesscenter.com