Winter beetroot, grain and avocado salad

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When I feel like something healthy and hearty on a winter’s evening and the idea of yet another soup doesn’t quite cut it, a good grain-packed bowl with veggies and oodles of toppings and flavours – usually springing creatively forth from whatever is in the cupboard and the fridge – often sorts me out. And with its beautiful colours and textures, a beetroot salad like this is a joy to throw together.

Nutritionally, we always tell people to eat a rainbow; and it’s not for nothing that we named our street food business after one. For while we all know that greens are great and a super potent source of vitamins and minerals, other areas of the vegetable spectrum are not to be ignored. And with all its beautiful variations and hues, beetroot has plenty to offer to both our bodies and our plates.

It is a rich source of folate, manganese, potassium and anti-cancerous carotenoids. It also contains a high number of nitrates (almost 20 times more than other veggies) which help maintain blood pressure through vasodilation. And with its sweet flavour it can make a great (and beautiful) alternative to sugar in juices, cakes and puddings. But what really packs beetroot’s punch is its pigment betacyanin which has been shown to speed up the liver’s detoxification process, known as the second phase, where it mops up all the toxins it has broken down and gets them out of the body. And whether you drink or not, in modern city life with pollution and harmful toxins around every corner, the more we can do to help our tired livers along, the better.

And as for avocado, we can’t get enough of our green oily friend. See my post here for some of its health benefits and a quick and easy recipe.

Play around with different grains and sub nut cheese or sauce for the yoghurt if you’re not doing dairy.

I always think the more treats you throw on top, the better.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

1 cup camargue or wild rice

Two good handfuls of rocket

4-5 small fresh beetroots

100g feta or sheep milk cheese

A bunch of chopped chives

2 cups natural full-fat yoghurt

Zest of one lemon

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 avocado, finely sliced

A handful of cashews

Sea salt and black pepper to season

In two separate pans, boil your quinoa and rice with a little vegetable stock. Keep an eye on the quinoa as it will be faster than the rice! Peel and chop the beetroot into small chunks and cook at about 180 degrees for about twenty five minutes. You want them to be dark around the edges with a sweet roast taste, but with a little crunch in the middle.

Meanwhile, get your cashews roasting gently, and mix the lemon zest and juice with the yoghurt,  seasoning with plenty of salt and pepper.

Chop your avocado, crumble the cheese and wash the rocket, throw it all together when the beets and grains are done and place the yoghurt dressing on top, and you’re good to go. Add a drizzle of nut or seed oil if you like. I use hemp for a little nutty flavour.

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