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While I was reading an article about nutrition and running and beets, the article mentioned a beet smoothie that was included in Shalane Flanagan’s cookbook Run Fast. East Slow. “Hmm… I have that cookbook!”, I said to myself. Joel’s mom gave it to us a while ago and I kind of forgot about it. I am not sure why that was. As I was browsing through it, I could not believe how many delicious recipes it included. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by a new cookbook even though I really wanted to have it… I feel like I have to leave it and come back to re-appreciate everything that is included.

I love beets. We ate a lot of them growing up, as any other Eastern European has. One of my favorites is borscht, of course. My mom makes a superb borscht.

I also love them roasted… especially mingled between sweet potatoes and carrots. I have roasted pans and pans of the combination over the years, especially since having Julia. She loves the combination too. I am always excited when I find different beet varieties… yellow, candy striped, white. They are so pretty… they look like candy!

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Roasting whole beets is also super easy! You simply chop each end to create a flat surface and then place them on a sheet of foil, drizzle them with a bit of oil (I have used both olive oil and sunflower oil), and then close the foil to form a pocket. You can roast them in a 400 degree oven for anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the beets. Once the beets are roasted and cooled, you can peel them using your hand… the skin comes off super easily.

Beets are also great raw. You simply slice them super thin (using a mandolin) and then drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle them with some salt and pepper.

Another way to use beets is to include them in a cake along with some cacao… that’s right… beet chocolate cake. It is super delicious! Every time I make it, it gets eaten up. I even made it for Julia’s birthday two years ago and everyone loved it… even all the 4 year-olds!

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Including beets in a smoothie is such a great idea too! Shalane Flanagan’s smoothie includes roasted beets, blueberries, banana, almond butter, coconut water, and almond milk. Yum!!

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Lastly, I discovered these amazing crackers at Trader Joe’s. They also have a sweet potato version that is equally as good.

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Beets are super good for you! They are rich in folate, manganese, and other nutrients. They also seem to help improve sport performance, per the article that I mentioned earlier. What’s not to love! If you are not a big fan, try roasting them… it will definitely change your mind!

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My first introduction to Clafouti was during my stay in France while in college. I was lucky and fortunate to be able to spend 3 months in Tours, France.

I have had this obsession with France ever since I was 8. It was due to the numerous Alexandre Dumas novels from my neighbor’s book collection. My sister and I spent countless hours reading them to each other. Since my family decided to leave Romania, my sister and I were not able to go to school during this time. The waiting period lasted for 3 years, so we had enough time to go through the entire collection. :) It is one of my favorite childhood memories.

Due to this obsession, I decided to immerse myself into the language as well as the culture. Once in the US and as I entered 8th grade, I was excited to find out that French was offered as a course. I continued to study it all the way through college. Finally, while in college, I got the opportunity to go to France for a study abroad program to study the language as well as the culture. It was the best 3 months of my life.

During my stay, my French mother baked a Cherry Clafouti for dinner one day. It was so delicious! I still think about it. I have attempted it several times, but it has never come out as good as hers. It must be because she is French! So jealous! :)

While grocery shopping last week, I came across a display of cherries. They were so beautiful and they were even locally grown. How great is that?!?! Of course the fairly large container ended up in my shopping cart. The silly part about this whole thing is that I cannot really eat a lot of cherries and Joel is allergic to them. HA! “They would be great as a cherry Clafouti”, I thought. So they became Cherry Clafouti… a Cherry-Almond Clafouti, that is.

I found the recipe on Epicurious. It is very simple. It simply requires whole milk, almonds, sugar, cherries, eggs, almond extract, salt, and flour. The interesting part about the recipe is that it requires you to make almond milk from scratch. I decided to use store-bought almond milk, to save time. Also, I did not want to use whole milk due to my lactose intolerance. The worst part about the entire process was pitting the cherries. Now I know why pitted cherries or a cherry pitter are ideal. :)

The Clafouti turned out great! It is not quite as custardy as I would have expected it to be. This, I am sure, is due to the fact that I used almond milk instead of whole milk. I also think that I used more cherries than what the recipe required. But since I spent all that time pitting them, how could I not?!?

“Bon appétit!”, as my French mother would say.

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