Vibrant and colorful, golden beets and carrots are loaded with powerful antioxidants, especially beta-carotene, the vegetable form of vitamin A. Antioxidants, as well as phytochemicals, are what give colorful fruits and vegetables their distinctive colors and smells. Thousands of these chemicals are already known to researchers, with thousands more probably unknown . Plants produce these chemicals to help them fight off pests, disease, and pollution, and in turn, when we eat these foods, the same chemicals offer up the same protection for our bodies. Antioxidants and phytochemicals from whole foods are finally being recognized for their cancer fighting abilities. I say whole foods because antioxidants act differently when they become isolated in a supplement. An isolated antioxidant will not offer the same protection in supplement form as it will in whole foods form. One carrot, or one beet, has thousands of different protective properties within it, and all of them need each other to work efficiently. When one property is removed and isolated, it no longer has the help of the thousand other chemicals, and will not offer the same effective protection. Whole foods are always better than supplements.
I won't go into all the different antioxidants and phytochemicals within a beet or carrot, you will probably get overwhelmed. The most important thing to note is that all colorful fruits and vegetables are packed with these naturally occurring chemicals, and should be the backbone to any whole foods way of life. Reds, oranges, greens, purples, whites, and yellows; each color offers thousands of different protective properties. My best nutritional advice to anyone is to pay attention to the colors you eat throughout the day or week. Ask yourself, "did I eat something purple today?", or "did I have an orange fruit of vegetable?". Eating a range of colors guarantees a balance and variety of nutrients. In my perfect world, organic, in season, colorful fruits and vegetables would be the base of my food pyramid (but then again, my perfect world would not have a food pyramid! That is a different argument though).
On to the recipe! This slaw is the radiant colors of sunshine, hence the name. The colors are dramatic, the flavors bright, and the texture refreshing and crisp. Serving beta carotene rich foods along with a little fat helps the body to absorb the beta carotene more efficiently. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A in the body, and fat from the olive oil helps to transport the vitamin A into our cells. Other fat soluble vitamins include D, E, and K. The olive oil also helps to slightly soften the fibers of the beets and carrots, as well as heighten their wonderful flavors. Fat is also a flavor transporter. If you can get hold of rainbow carrots (carrots in all different colors such as red, white, orange, and yellow) use them! Don't peel them, just give them a good scrubbing and then slice. The colors of this salad will be even more magnificent. We eat with our eyes first, so I believe food should be beautiful, and if you are using gorgeous farmer's market, in season produce, you won't have to do much to accomplish this. This slaw is great when served along side the Rosemary-Garlic Smothered Potatoes. I would say this recipe serves 2-4.
Golden Sunshine Slaw
-2 medium sized golden beets
-2 medium sized carrots
-Juice of 1 Myer lemon
-Juice of 1 orange
-1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
-1 teaspoon agave nectar
-1/2 teaspoon whole grain mustard
-1/4 cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 cup lightly toasted sunflower seeds
-Salt and fresh ground white pepper
Remove tops and woody bottoms from the beets. Save the tops for another use if desired. Peel the beets and the carrots. Using a sharp mandolin, such as a Bennriner mandolin, slice the beets into very thin circles. Make three different stacks of circles, and with a sharp knife, finely slice the stacks into very thin strips (like angel hair pasta but thinner). Place into a large bowl. Slice the carrots length wise on the mandolin the same thickness as the beets. Again, make three stacks, and slice thin to create very fine ribbons of carrot. Place into the bowl with the beets. Lightly season the beets and carrots with a little salt and freshly ground white pepper. Toss to coat.
In a separate bowl whisk together the citrus juices, apple cider vinegar, agave, and mustard until well combined. Add the olive oil to this mixture in a slow, steady stream while constantly whisking to create a semi-emulsified dressing. Pour about half of this dressing over the beets and carrots. Toss to coat. Taste to adjust seasoning of salt and pepper. Let the salad rest about 10 minutes and taste again. Add more dressing if needed, but about half is usually sufficient. The leftover dressing is great for green salads. Toss in the sunflower seeds and serve. This slaw will stay fresh about 2 days.