Hello! I’m Frances and I'm delighted you’ve found The Blushing Beetroot. This is my first ever attempt at blog writing and I’m so excited to be able to share some of my healthy food creations with you.
I’m a full time mum of two little ones. I find I’m cooking so much now and experimenting a lot with different foods and dishes that I’d like to record and share them with you. Also it gives me something to keep my brain from going totally rusty!!
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I’m a little annoyed with myself for neglecting The Blushing Beetroot over the past few months. Life seems to have gotten busier recently and I’m afraid the blog has been put on the back burner.
The Blushing Beetroot has been such an amazing outlet for me while the kids were very young, helping keep my mind stimulated with thoughts other than baby talk. ‘The days are long but the years are short’ summed up those early years perfectly.
However now aged 3 yrs and almost 5 yrs I’ve found that their needs have changed over the past 18 months. Play dates, learning to ride bicycles, learning to swim, homework, birthday parties etc means that I am less confined to the house and therefore less able to write blog posts. This is a natural and positive progression in the children’s lives and I’m delighted to be gradually regaining some of my former independence again.
Like any parent I’m so proud of my children and watching them developing various skills and making friends is so rewarding. All the effort and time is truly worth it. An absolute labour of love.
With that said Ive really missed my blog writing. It’s quite therapeutic to be able to escape for a while into writing about topics I’m passionate about. So on a mid- term break with the family I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take some time to write a post which I’ve wanted to do for quite a while.
Prior to our holidays in September 2015, I desperately wanted to loose the last of my baby weight which had stubbornly lingered and I simply couldn’t shift. Diet had taken me so far but I knew I needed to start exercising to get in better shape.
Two obstacles were in my way. Firstly what exercise regimen would work while having a 1 and 3 yr old at home with me and secondly being a novice in the field of working out I needed a routine that would suit my level of fitness and still give me the desired results.
I came across an American fitness instructor Jillian Michaels. She has a workout DVD called The 30 Day Shred. Having 6 weeks to get myself in shape this work out sounded perfect! Shredded in 30 days, yes please!
This particular workout had a few advantages that suited my needs.
• Each workout, including warm-up and cool down lasted less that 30 minutes. ( A couple of Paw Patrols back-to-back and you’ve the freedom in 30 mins to get the DVD done)
• The only equipment needed is an exercise mat and a pair of hand weights.
• There are 3 different levels. You start at level 1 and work up to level three. Within each level there is an option of doing the easier form of the exercise or the more challenging form.
Fearful that I wouldn’t finish the workout and reach level 3 I bought a chart! Everyday I worked out I gave myself a tick in the box. I really didn’t know if this chart would highlight my failure and therefore heighten my disappointment. Or possibly, the chart could be hugely encouraging seeing each week pass with clear acknowledgment of workouts completed. .
As it happens, and I was really pleasantly surprised. The way the routine is choreographed, fitness is built gradually. I felt challenged but not out of my depth. I started to feel the benefits of increased energy levels very quickly and for the first time since having children I began gaining muscle tone!! Subtle changes not easily noticed by others but massive changes for me.
This of course encouraged me greatly. It wasn’t long until I got the bug and was doing the routine 5-6 times per week.
Busy periods like Christmas or the month of January when I was quite unwell I didn’t exercise at all. However as the routine is so adaptable to ones fitness level, I found I could easily build myself back up at my own pace.
I still do this workout 2-3 times per week which is enough to keep my weight in check and maintain some level of fitness.
I would really recommend this to any mum who wants some exercise where they can control the pace with some degree of challenging themselves. Anybody who wants to improve their fitness level. Anyone who wants to loose a few pounds. Or anybody who wants to tone up gently.
My husband and I were lucky enough to be given an amazing Christmas present from my sister-in-law Suzanna which consisted of a two night break in London including flights and accommodation with the biggest bonus of all, babysitting included, yippee!
Having lived in London for the majority of my 20’s, London is a city close to my heart and I have many fond memories of living and working there. I couldn’t wait to get back.
Having time to yourselves as a couple after having children is somewhat elusive. Life becomes much busier. Weekends of socialising with friends, reading and free time is replaced with numerous children’s activities so to say I was giddy with excitement is an understatement.
Hot on my hit list of things to do was to sample the food at The Mae Deli, or as its affectionately know by her followers, Ella’s Deli. Ella cured herself of a medical condition through a whole-food-plant-based diet and has become an international sensation in the health food and business world.
Having followed Ella for a number of years on social media, walking through the the doors of the deli seemed familiar even though it was my first visit!
So much of the food displayed on the counters, the menu choices, the juices, smoothies and energy bites appealed so much to me that I virtually couldn’t decide! I finally settled on an açai bowl with fruit, while my husband had the porridge with fruit compote, coconut shavings and nut butter.
We also took two of the energy bites to go which were the perfect pick-me-up while strolling through the streets of London that afternoon.
Onwards to Selfridges and to my husband’s misfortune we entered through the doors of the food hall. A wonderland of food awaited from Livias Kitchen Raw Millionaire Bites, samples of matcha tea, decadent dark chocolates and a vast array of superfoods. Heaven!
Part of our gift was a three course lunch in a vegetarian Michelin recommended restaurant Vanilla Black. To my delight they also had a full vegan menu which I opted for. It’s not often you get to sample Michelain vegan food!
The food was delicious from the olive oil (which was from Greece apparently, I had to ask the waitress!) to the rosé, the dessert was moreish but my favourite was the starter.
Finally the dessert as expected didn’t disappoint and it’s impressive how a dairy-free dessert can taste so delicious. Reflective of the talent and imagination of the chef. (And check out how flash the plate is 🙌🏻)
With bellies full we ventured onto Covent Garden. Here we stumbled upon Marcus Wearing’s restaurant Tredwells. Being inquisitive I examined the menu on display. Interestingly there were numerous vegan options. Starters of harissa glazed aubergines, mains of courgette and spelt fritters to mushroom ravioli and a dessert of virtuous chocolate brownie with coconut youghurt sounded more than tempting. One for our next visit. . .
The following morning before our flight we enjoyed a delicious brunch in a local pub. A green juice, americano and smashed avocado on sourdough brought this brilliant weekend in London to an end. Till next time. . .
If you try to get your daily intake of greens but find it a challenge this is a simple way to make green vegetables very tasty. A daily green vegetable juice can be a fantastic way to gain the nutritional benefits from green vegetables, but I know this is not available to everyone. The idea of a spinach or kale smoothie for breakfast is not everyone’s cup-of-tea so I have the simplest recipe to dress up vegetables prepared in the traditional way. . . steamed with evening dinner! No juicers, blenders or dehydrators here! A good old fashioned steamer. With this simple dressing, regular broccoli, asparagus and green beans are transformed and you could find yourself devouring large bowls of green goodness. I hope you enjoy.
• 2 tbsp tamari
• 1-2 tsp maple syrup
• 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• 1 garlic clove – crushed
• sprinkle of crushed chilli flakes
• grating of fresh ginger- optional
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and pour over your choosen green steamed vegetables.
Here’s the juicy bit. . . .
Tamari is a much less processed form of soy sauce. Soy sauce, soy products and soya are highly processed and not necessarily a healthy vegan or vegetarian protein source. It is also gluten free. This is good news for coeliacs or if you are trying to reduce the amount of gluten in your diet. Gluten can be an irritant on the lining of the digestive tract and can reduce its efficiency and the absorption of nutrients, for some people.
Protein aside, calcium is the second biggest nutrient people become enthusiastically worried about on hearing that I eat a mainly plant based diet. It concerns me that it is still believed by most, that milk and milk products are essential foods for bone density. The dairy industry is vocal. Their catchy, mesmerising advertising have cleverly blinkered the majority into believing that dairy is essential for healthy bones and wellbeing. I’m writing this blog post to highlight the reality of dairy as a calcium food source. I feel we need to balance the scales in relation to calcium food sources and question the reliability of the dairy industry’s claim that their products are elixir foods for the bones.
Cows milk is indeed rich in protein and calcium. It needs to be. It’s function is to build a 100 lb calf into a 1000 lb cow! It’s the perfect food for a calf. The calcium content of cows milk is three times greater than that of human milk. If the human body required the vast quantities of calcium that cows milk contains wouldn’t breast milk provide for this?
If we are to believe the importance of cows milk in meeting our calcium requirements, we would have to agree that when we drink this fluid, the high volume of calcium it contains is magically shoved into our bones without regulation or control. Homeostasis no longer! Luckily our digestive system is not a passive sieve. Our body strives to maintain equilibrium and therefore optimal digestion, assimilation and absorption of nutrients, including minerals is essential. Can you imagine the internal chaos that would ensue if vast volumes of the mineral calcium were passed directly into our blood stream? The body strives to filter out the vast and unnecessary amount of calcium that is ingested through dairy and excretes it preventing an overload of this mineral.
The original source of calcium like all minerals is in the soil. Animals obtain calcium by eating plants. We can equally obtain calcium from its original source by eating a plant based diet. The digestive system works hard to absorb the necessary and eliminate the unnecessary.
Equally taking a diet rich in plant based foods, which the calcium is slightly more difficult to extract due to oxalates, the body works to extract the nutrients it needs to survive.
If dairy, (with its high volume of calcium which the majority of us eat numerous times a day), is so vital to ensure we have our calcium needs met, then why do conditions like osteoporosis exist? It’s very difficult for most us to think of a week, a day, a meal or even a snack that does not contain some amount of dairy. If we are eating this calcium rich food for the bones why does western society, with the highest rates of dairy intake have the highest rates of osteoporosis? And likewise, the countries with the lowest intake of dairy have the lowest reports of fractures.
High in Animal Protein
The issue lies with the high protein content of dairy. Milk which is high in animal protein, is acidic for humans and creates an acidic internal environment. The human body strives to maintain balance and homeostasis and works best in a slightly alkaline internal environment. Too acidic or too alkaline leads to imbalance and disease is favourable. Alkaline calcium is a buffer to acidic conditions and is leeched from our bones to ensure a dangerous acidic state is neutralised and not prolonged. Calcium is lost from our bones and finally passed out of our body via our urine. Net result – calcium deficit. For every 1 gram of protein in your diet you can expect 1 milligram of calcium loss.
Most of the milk we consume has been pasteurised, changing the chemical composition to calcium carbonate, a much more difficult form to absorb.
The Dairy Industry
The dairy industry is a lucrative and very powerful one. Influential people from national sports stars, actors and pop stars are seen smiling through a milk moustache with images of happy cows under blue skies grazing on green fields. Is this type of farming reflective of the majority of modern day farming practices?
You have to ask why does this industry repeatedly consider it necessary to convince the general public that dairy and bone health go hand-in-hand? Dairy is aggressively promoted. It can be difficult to see past this powerful persuasion. Is the advertising not similar to McDonalds? Relentless, subtlety aggressive, repetitive slogans. If dairy is truly the health food that is essential for wellbeing, why do we need constant convincing and reminding? Their insistence of a daily intake of 5 portions of dairy per day is outdated and exhausted. How many adverts do you see promoting broccoli, carotts, kale, apples, berries, beans, lentils or unprocessed wholegrains? Is this industry feeling threatened by the possibility of consumers no longer using dairy as the optimum food choice for calcium?
The dairy industry is allowed to advertise its food products and make claims that cows milk is necessary for humans. However it is not permitted to highlight the reality of modern-day, dairy industrialised farms. Most are unaware of factory farming practices or believe that the meat and dairy they purchase are from good, ethical farms. It’s no surprise that the majority support the dairy industry because the full facts are being withheld.
We need to ask ourselves why do we drink the milk from another animal at all? Humans are the only animals that drink the milk of another animal after they have been weaned. If you were given the milk of another animal how would you feel about drinking it? Horses, pigs, camel? How about human milk? Most are repulsed at the thought of milk from their own species but content with drinking milk from another.
People, quite often meat and dairy eaters often console themselves by saying everything in moderation, however I notice this rarely applies to the consumption of dairy. Most would find it difficult to think of one day let alone one meal that does not contain dairy. Milk in cereal, butter on toast, lattes, cheese sandwich, milk chocolate bars, youghurt and grated cheese added to everything – baked beans, chilli, soup, cottage pie, pizza, pizza crust, even vegetables get the cheese love. We eat dairy non stop, not in moderation.
Although it’s difficult to think about the reality of the lives that factory farmed animals have to endure, I believe it is our responsibility to be a part of the end of their suffering. Can an ice -cream, latte, cheese board or dessert really be delicious if it has come from the milk of an animal who lived in terrible conditions? It’s about starting with small steps. Americano instead of latte, hummus on toast instead of butter, sorbet instead of ice-cream. Small choices contributes to a reduction in the demand for dairy and eventually an end to intensive farming.
We continue to look to medical doctors for advise on diet and nutrition. Unfortunately however, medical doctors don’t study nutrition. From my experience doctors regurgitate the same outdated advice. The local GP is potentially a valuable source for diet and nutritional advice.
However Dr Colin Campbell and Dr John Mc Dougall are two examples of medical doctors that have decades of nutritional research. They advocate a whole food plant based diet. It has been suggested that humans survive best on a 90% -99% plant based diet with 1%-10% from meat and diary.
Taking a balanced plant based diet and getting sufficient Vitamin D from sunshine, greatly assist in the absorption of calcium. Avoiding caffeine and taking vitamin C rich foods with plant based,calcium rich foods, is beneficial for absorption.
It’s The Blushing Beetroot’s first birthday! I’ve really enjoyed blog writing over the past 12 months. I started writing to give myself a daily outlet while being a stay-at-home-mum of a baby and toddler. It’s been the perfect release and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Also I have had some media interest and an award nomination which was very exciting. To celebrate I’ve decided to share this delicious autumn vegetable juice. Most of the fruits and vegetables in this recipe are in season which intensify the flavour and freshness.
Portion – 1 large glass
Prep – 10 minutes
• 1 inch ginger
• 2 apples
• 4 raw beetroots
• 4 carrots
• 1 orange
Peel the ginger
De-core the apple
Juice the orange manually
Depending on your juicer chop the fruit and vegetables into appropriate sizes.
If your vegetables are organic wash them well. If not peel them.
Place the ingredients into your juicer one by one and let it do the work!
Here’s the juicy bit. . .
Choosing seasonal and local foods has been en vogue for years but this is more important than a passing trend.
If we think back to our grandparents or even our parents basic meals, the majority of what they ate was local and in season. It is our generation that ingests a vast amount of imported and processed foods. I don’t necessarily think exotic foods from far off lands equate to a nourishing diet. Quite often these foods are in cold storage for long periods of time. Not really ideal.
Eating local fresh produce that is in season makes perfect sense and for the most part, possible. By becoming familiar with what foods are in season you can plan your meals around these. Naturally when a food is in season it is at its most fresh and alive with nutrients. Foods that have been kept in cold storage for months loose their vitality and taste.
Some foods which are currently in season are apples, pears, plums, figs, fennel, cabbage, beetroot and carrots.
I know it’s not always possible or easy to eat locally produced foods. Like most I do the majority of my food shopping in a supermarket. It’s just not always as convenient to go to the green grocery. The downside of this is that I’m always surprised how difficult it can be to buy Irish. I couldn’t find Irish apples last week!! I had to choose between New Zealand, Portugal, Italy or France! Crazy I thought. I went with the French apples figuring the NZ apples would be pretty wilted after that amount of travel time!!
However I do scan labels before choosing and try to buy Irish. If Irish produce is not available I choose European. Unless a recipe calls for it or I really fancy a food, for example a pineapple, I try to avoid foods that require a lot of travel time.