By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
Superfoods. You know you’re supposed to eat them. Nutritionists are constantly touting their benefits on news programs and talk shows, particularly this time of year when thoughts turn toward health. But incorporating good eating habits to an already-busy life can sound like more of a burden than it’s worth. Unless you’re consuming organic vegetables grown by a farmer who lives in your town and he gets his plot of land blessed by monks riding unicorns, you’re doing it wrong. The good news is, cooking with superfoods doesn’t have to mean you’re revamping your diet or spending a lot of money. The even better news is, you get to experiment with lots of different beer pairings because even healthy, fresh fare can find a perfect partner in craft brew.
Our Homebrew Hints author, Chris Jennings, developed the recipes highlighting superfoods for this month’s Brew Bites column, and the dishes are all beautifully simple. The first course, a vibrantly colored beet and carrot salad, is a visually appealing way to introduce yourself to superfoods during one of the drearier times of year. Don’t turn up your nose just yet because beets are in the picture. Those who grew up hating the round, gelatinous slabs that came in a can should revisit the vegetable, which is fresh and cubed here. The roasting process tempers some of the unappealing “dirt” flavor some associate with beets and it also brings out the natural sugars. Mazama Brewing’s Saison d'Etre highlights the sweetness of the beets and the salad tones down some of the spiciness of the Belgian-style beer.
Beets arrived at their superfood status, in part, because of a 2001 study published in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” that discovered a new class of antioxidants in the root called betalains. Researchers concluded that regularly consuming red beets may provide protection against stress-related disorders created by an imbalance of oxidative stress and antioxidant defenses. They also contain vitamins A, B and C as well as folate. Carrots are no slouch, though, when it comes to helping the body. They’re one of the best sources of Vitamin A and beta-carotene, which protects the skin from sun damage. Studies have also shown carrots can reduce the risk of lung cancer in smokers and suppress tumor development. Finally, the Greek yogurt that’s drizzled atop the salad may help with digestion and overall health in the gut.
The main course, baked salmon on a bed of couscous and fennel, not only includes two superfoods — it’s also low in calories and quite still quite filling. As a protein, fish has less cholesterol and saturated fat than red meat. While some are turned off by the strong fishy taste present in some seafood, salmon is mild and creamy, so it’s more approachable. Firm and bouncy pearl couscous provide some textural variety and serves as a neutral canvas for the rest of the ingredients. And if the black licorice taste of raw fennel has you gagging, roasting the bulb inhibits that characteristic. Gilgamesh Brewing’s Hopscotch is a strong ale that pairs well with the fish. Its caramel and molasses-like flavor brings out the sweetness of the salmon without overpowering. The dry hopping balances what would otherwise be a very malt-forward beer.
Of all the superfoods, salmon just might be the star. It boasts a litany of advantages, including omega-3 fatty acids that can counteract the negative effects of adrenaline and cortisol along with proteins that improve bone density and strength. On top of that, the fish improves brain health, protects eyesight and is a source of vitamin D. Fennel also has anti-inflammatory properties, which reduce gene-altering molecules that cause cancer. The perennial herb protects against skin aging, soothes menstrual cramps, prevents osteoporosis and is chock full of fiber.
While it may seem a bit odd to feature a story on healthy consumption in a magazine about beer, it’s clear that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Beer’s ingredients, like hops and barley, exhibit their own benefits to mind and body, as does alcohol. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that balance and moderation are essential.
Carrot and Beet Salad With Yogurt
Paired with Mazama Saison D’Etre
By Chris Jennings
5 whole carrots
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
— Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
— Peel carrots and beets.
— Place carrots and beets on separate baking sheets, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast whole in about 1/4 inch water. Beets should take 30-45 minutes, carrots a bit less (poke with a fork to check when done.)
— Chop carrots and beets into 1/4 inch cubes. Mix together in bowl.
— In a separate bowl, mix together plain Greek yogurt, a dash of lemon juice and pepper (to taste.)
— Place vegetable mixture onto a plate and drizzle yogurt on top.
Salmon, Couscous and Fennel
Paired with Gilgamesh Hopscotch
By Chris Jennings
3/4-1 pound of salmon
1 cup couscous
1 bulb fennel
1 clove garlic
1 bunch parsley
— Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
— Cut off fennel stalks. Peel apart bulbs and arrange evenly in a glass baking dish, chopping larger petals in half. Salt and pepper the fennel (to taste.) Bake for 10 minutes.
— Bring 1 cup of water to boil in saucepan.
— Add 1 cup of couscous, cover pan and simmer 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
— Chop 1/4 cup parsley and stir into couscous once water boils out and ready to serve.
— Mince one clove of garlic.
— Remove pin bones from salmon before lightly salting the top and then evenly coating with small layer of garlic.
— Cover salmon with lid or foil to ensure it doesn’t dry out and bake for approximately 20 minutes (for thicker pieces of fish.)
— Drizzle honey down the center before serving.
Monthly recipes and pairings from your favorite brewpubs around Oregon.