I listen to a lot of podcasts, often while walking my dogs or driving my car. One favorite is a podcast called Nutrition Facts with Dr. Greger, who co-wrote the well-known book How Not to Die with Gene Stone about the scientific evidence behind plant-based diets and health.
A February 4th episode of this podcast titled “The Best Diet for Optimal Athletic Performance” had me thinking about beets. According to Dr. Greger, nitrate-rich plant foods such as beets, spinach and fennel seeds relax blood vessels and improve blood pressure, allowing for better athletic performance with the same amount of oxygen intake.
He went on to explain the various studies on this subject, one of which showed that beetroot bread had similar healthy effects on the body as whole beets. This was interesting to me because it’s possible beetroot bread is more palatable for people compared to eating plain-old cooked beets. Dr. Greger referred in his comments to a “recent study,” although no exact recipe for beetroot bread was cited.
I decided to experiment with vegan beetroot bread recipes to see if I could come up with something delicious. I like to use Wheat Montana Prairie Gold 100% Whole Wheat Flour carried at Weaver’s Orchard Market. It produces a nice bread texture compared to other whole wheat flours carried in most regular grocery stores. Of course, the produce section at the market always offers good-sized beets, and I was able to get the amount I needed for my recipe from one beet.
I am completely amazed at how sweet and moist this quick bread turned out. While the uncooked batter takes on the red color of the pureed beets, the cooked bread looks much like gingerbread. The flavors of blood orange and coconut sugar showcase the beets’ natural sweetness. If you want to take flavors to the next level, experiment by topping a slice with cream cheese spread or butter from the market.
- 1 large beet, cubed and cooked (about 1 cup cubed, cooked beets)
- 1 blood orange, juiced (See note)
- 1 tablespoon of zest from the blood orange
- 1½ cups whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup almond milk
- ½ cup sparkling water
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts
- [Note: You want ¼ cup of juice. If your orange does not produce that much juice, simply add water to make ¼ cup.]
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Lightly spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- To cook the beet(s), scrub and trim. Cut the beet(s) into ½-inch cubes. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook the cubes for about 25 minutes or until fork tender.
- Zest the orange and squeeze out the juice for the recipe.
- Puree the cooked beets with the juice and zest from the blood orange.
- In a large bowl, combine all the wet ingredients with the sugar, including the pureed beets and orange, the apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, almond milk, sparkling water and coconut sugar.
- In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, including the flour, baking soda and salt.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Add chopped walnuts to the batter, also stirring until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf.