[VIDEO]: Turn up the beet

I LOOOOOOVE beets. I always have. It started when I was a little girl slurping on my mom's delicious homemade borscht. It evolved into stocking up at my university cafeteria's salad bar. And now, the love is stronger than ever. 

On my journey toward better health, I quickly started being aware of how much SUGAR I was eating. Not just sweets -- and believe me, there were plenty. But also the added sugars in my go-to "healthy" processed foods like boxed chicken stocks, jarred tomato sauce, nut mixes, and even my favorite whole grain crackers.

The first thing I did was panic -- HOW COULD I EVER GIVE UP THESE FOODS? I NEED MY SWEETS AND THE CONVENIENCE OF PRE-MADE FOODS!!! But then I was smart enough to realize nature has so many other goodies in store for me. Enter stage left: BEETS. These babies are so sweet on their own, you don't need to add any other sweeteners when cooking like honey, maple syrup, or dare I even say the big bad S word. 

Even now, my body will let me know that it needs a variety of flavors to feel satisfied, and whenever I'm getting that yen for sweetness, I turn up the beet.

 

It doesn't hurt that beets have amazing nutritional value. Those same antioxidants that give blueberries their vibrant color? It's those same nutrients that are found in beets.

Now, if they're so good for us, why don't we eat them fresh? I hear excuses all the time -- they stain hands (have you tried using paper towels as a barrier?), they take a long time to roast (have you cut them into smaller pieces, or tried them raw?), and it's easier to buy them pre-cut at the grocery store (tell the truth, have you felt connected to your food lately?). Excuses begone! These are inexpensive, nutrient-dense, flava-packed veggies and so easy to prepare. I have lots of ideas how to use them in this week's episode of #MichellesMondayMinute, AND one of my famous recipes for Beet + Carrot Falafel below the video. What are you waiting for? Get cooking!

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Beet + Carrot Falafel
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
2 c. fresh shredded beets (see instructions below)
2 c. fresh shredded carrots (see instructions below)
1/2 c. cooked quinoa
1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 c. sesame seeds, divided
Salt/pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375*.
  2. Prep-work: in a food processor, use the shredder attachment to process peeled, raw beets, then set aside in a bowl. Rinse out food processor, then continue with peeled, raw carrots. Set carrots aside in another bowl, and rinse out food processor once more.
  3. In the bowl of the food processor, combine measured beets, carrots, quinoa, sunflower seeds, cumin, salt and pepper. Pulse until well combined and the mixture becomes one color. Stop the motor, and use your fingers to test the consistency; should be somewhat flaky, but easily pressed together. Add more cooked quinoa 1 tbsp. at a time until this consistency is achieved.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Then, using a melon-baller or small ice cream scoop, spoon small balls onto the baking sheet (or use a tablespoon to scoop 1" balls, using your hands to roll them together). 
  5. Sprinkle falafel balls with a handful of the sesame seeds, then bake for 30-45 minutes or until crispy on the outside, checking every 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Add more sesame seed garnish immediately before serving.

Serving suggestions:

  • Throw over a pile of salad greens
  • Slice in half and add to wraps and sandwiches
  • Dip into hummus
  • Pairs amazingly well with my Herb Tahini Dressing
  • Pre-packaged ready-to-eat beets are fine in a pinch, but taste and nutrition is unparalleled when preparing fresh yourself. Trust me on it!