Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Shalane Challenge, Day 3: The pinkest thing I have ever made

Runners have a thing about beets. Beets are supposed to improve endurance, and what runner doesn't want that? Still, I haven't really bought into the whole beet thing. First off, I don't like beets, and second, I have been at a bit of a mystery as to how to prepare them. But since this week I'm challenging myself to prepare all my meals from Olympic Marathoner Shalane Flanagan's cookbook, I figured now was a good time to give beets a try.

The thing about beets, though, is that they are really, really red. You might say they are "beet-red." Their juice gets on anything within a ten foot radius. I wanted to make Shalane's "Can't Get Beet Hummus," though, so I needed to confront my beet-phobia straight on. The recipe calls for a cooked beet.

Problem number 1: Our grocery store only sells beets in bunches. Fine. I'll cook four beets. Surely I can figure out something to do with the other three.

I decided to try trimming the roots and greens off the beets with kitchen shears to prevent getting beet juice all over my cutting board. This backfired as juice spattered all over my kitchen! I wrapped them in foil and placed them in the oven on a baking dish for an hour. Even just checking them to see if they were done led to beet "blood" all over my fingers.

Finally they were done and I chilled them overnight. But to make the recipe, I still had to peel the one beet I needed. More "bloody" fingers:


Finally I got the beets and all the other ingredients (mostly chickpeas, tahini, and lemon) into the blender. Instantly the mixture went from beige to the most intense shade of pink I have ever seen. I'm not sure I can adequately convey in words precisely how pink this concoction is. It is so pink that the Barbie aisle at Toys R Us looks muted by comparison. It's pinker than a Hawaiian sunset or a California Pride parade. It's pinker than an embarrassed piglet.

After turning a spatula and half my kitchen counter pink getting it out of the blender, I was finally able to serve it. Here's what it looks like on the plate:

Shalane says this will "impress" your dinner guests

I'm still not sure the photo quite does service to precisely how pink it is. Now all that was left was to try it:

Still pink!

Shalane claims that once you have made your own hummus, you'll never go back to store-bought. My verdict: This tastes fine, but it's definitely not better-tasting than store-bought. I've had much better, frankly. While I've enjoyed most of the things I've made from this book, this recipe is disappointing.

But perhaps this is more about the beets than the hummus (she does provide a more "standard" chipotle hummus recipe). On that count, I'm still not that impressed. I probably ate a quarter of the hummus I made, which is a lot of food, but that means I only consumed a quarter of a beet. I'm pretty sure that's not going to get me a BQ. Given that the athletes who use beet juice regularly are typically using 500 ml or so before a race, there's simply no way this much beet is going to offer much benefit at all. Not sure I'm even going to finish this hummus, and as someone who LOVES hummus, I think that's saying quite a bit.

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