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About Beets

To help them retain their flavor and color, it's best to cook beets whole.

Beets have been cultivated since prehistoric times in the Mediterranean region and were originally grown only for their leaves. Early Romans noticed the earthy, sweet flavor of the root, and beets were soon valued for their brilliant green leaves as well as their rich, ruby-colored roots.

Varieties
Beets come in several varieties, from the characteristic deep crimson to gold, white, and the fanciful chioggia, that shows its alternating red and white rings when cut horizontally. Beet sizes range from large marbles to cylinders to the size of baseballs. Baby (bunched) beets are more tender than regular beets and require less time to cook.

Buying and storing tips
Beets can be found in the produce section of health food stores and supermarkets. If the greens are still attached, they should be bright and fresh. Otherwise, the beets should be heavy and firm, not wrinkled or sprouting. They can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for about a week.

Availability
Beets are available all year long, and are at their peak from June through December.

Preparation, uses, and tips
Beets are best when cooked whole, to retain the flavor, color, and nutrients. To prepare beets, cut off the green tops, leaving an inch of the stem to prevent bleeding and flavor loss. Scrub beets, wrap them in foil, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on their size, at 400 F (200 C). Let them cool slightly and then peel the skins off. Baby beets can be steamed whole for about 30 minutes, then peeled and sliced. Beet leaves have a rich flavor resembling that of spinach. If they are crisp and bright green, they can be steamed or braised with onions and garlic in a little olive oil.

Nutritional Highlights
Beets (root, raw), 1 cup (135g)
Calories: 58
Protein: 2.2g
Carbohydrate: 13g
Total Fat: 0.23g
Fiber: 3.8g
*Excellent source of: Folate (148mcg)
*Good source of: Potassium (442mg), and Vitamin C (6.6mg)



Beet Recipes

Beet Salad

Ruby red and tart, this salad goes well with rustic grilled poultry; or serve it on top of a mixed green salad.

Ingredients

4 large beets, fresh
1 medium red onion
2 Tbsp (30mL) vegetable oil
1 Tbsp (15mL) cider vinegar
1/2 tsp (3g) salt (sea salt if on a corn-free diet*)
1/2 tsp (1g) pepper

Directions

Scrub beets to remove any dirt or soil. (Do not peel, as the peel slides off easily after cooking).

Place beets and enough water to cover them in a medium-sized saucepan. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 45 minutes, until beets are tender, but not mushy.

Drain and rinse with cold water. Hold each beet under cold running water and slip the skin off. Slice crosswise into 1/4-inch (1/2cm) slices, and place in a shallow bowl.

Slice onions into rings. Add to beets.

Mix oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl and pour over beets and onions. Gently mix to combine.

Chill for several hours before serving.

* Allergy notes: People following a corn-free diet should avoid iodized salt since it contains dextrose, which should be avoided by those allergic to corn.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 75
Total Fat: 5g
% Calories from fat: 53%
Protein: 1g
Carbohydrate: 8g
Cholesterol: 0mg


Garbanzo, Beet Greens, and Zucchini Soup

The sweetness of the zucchini comes through in this summer garden soup. For best results, use very fresh vegetables.

Ingredients

2 Tbsp (30mL) olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 Tbsp (7g) parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp (7g) fresh basil, chopped
2 medium zucchini, whole
1 can (425g) garbanzo beans, (15 ounces)
1 tsp (6g) salt (sea salt if on a corn-free diet*)
3 cups (720mL) water
1 bunch beet greens or other mild flavored greens
Pepper to taste
4 tsp (10g) Parmesan cheese*, grated, optional

Directions

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and add onion. Sauté onion until transparent. Add garlic, parsley and basil and cook for a few minutes more.

Add zucchini and cook just until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally. Add garbanzo beans, salt, and water and bring to a boil.

Turn heat down and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place greens in a sink full of water and swish around to thoroughly wash them. Drain water, and shake the greens to partially dry them. Place them on a cutting board and cut the leaves into pieces measuring approximately 2x1/2 inches (5x1.5cm).

Cook for about 10 more minutes, until the greens have cooked down. Add fresh ground pepper, and serve with about 1 tsp (3g) of Parmesan cheese per serving. Add the greens to the soup pot and stir well.

* Allergy notes: People following a corn-free diet should avoid iodized salt since it contains dextrose, which should be avoided by those allergic to corn. The egg protein lysozyme is an unlabeled additive in some cheeses. People allergic to eggs should eliminate any cheese in this recipe.

Nutrition Facts
Calories: 279
Total Fat: 11g
% Calories from fat: 32%
Protein: 12g
Carbohydrate: 37g
Cholesterol: 1mg
Sodium: 589mg

Gingered Beets

1 lb. beets, peeled and quartered or sliced (or 1 lb. whole or sliced canned beets, drained)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
lemon for garnish

In a large saucepan, cook the beets, covered, in boiling water for 20 to 30 minutes or until beets are tender. Drain. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, stir together sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water, lemon peel, lemon juice and ginger. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. In a serving bowl, stir together beets and lemon mixture. Serve warm. Garnish with lemon slices or lemon peel. sprinkle with green pepper.

Jewels and Pasta

Beautiful red beets contrast with the pasta in this unusual way of using fresh beets.

Ingredients

4 medium beets, scrubbed
12 ounces (340g) linguine, uncooked
1 Tbsp (15mL) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp (3g) salt (sea salt if on a corn-free diet*)
4 ounces (115g) feta cheese*, crumbled
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Boil beets in their skins for about 45 minutes.

While beets are cooking, cook linguine in boiling water until done. Drain linguine, reserving about 1 cup (250mL) of the liquid.

Rinse beets well under cold running water and slide the skins off. Chop beets into 1/2-inch (2cm) cubes (or smaller).

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch (30cm) nonstick skillet and add onions. Cook onions until tender, and lightly browned. Add chopped beets and salt to the onions. Transfer the pasta into the skillet with the beets and onions. Stir until the pasta and the beets are well combined. Top with the crumbled feta cheese and the freshly ground pepper.

* Allergy notes: People following a corn-free diet should avoid iodized salt since it contains dextrose, which should be avoided by those allergic to corn. The egg protein lysozyme is an unlabeled additive in some cheeses. People allergic to eggs should eliminate any cheese in this recipe.

Nutrition Facts
Calories: 461
Total Fat: 11g
% Calories from fat: 21%
Protein: 16g
Carbohydrate: 74g
Cholesterol: 25mg
Sodium: 653mg

ROASTED BEETS AND SAUTEED BEET GREENS

This is a great way to use every part of the fresh beets you buy. You can get two delicious side dishes out of this one vegetable.

1 bunch beets with greens
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped onion (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C). Wash the beets thoroughly, leaving the skins on, and remove the greens. Rinse greens, removing any large stems, and set aside. Place the beets in a small baking dish or roasting pan, and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. If you wish to peel the beets, it is easier to do so once they have been roasted.

2. Cover, and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a knife can slide easily through the largest beet.

3. When the roasted beets are almost done, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onion, and cook for a minute. Tear the beet greens into 2 to 3 inch pieces, and add them to the skillet. Cook and stir until greens are wilted and tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the greens as is, and the roasted beets sliced with either red-wine vinegar, or butter and salt and pepper.


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