Here's a pickled beets recipe that is sugar free since there's enough natural sweetness from the beets. Pickling the beets in apple cider vinegar and fresh orange gives it a boost to sit aside your next cheese plate or on top of a green salad.
My 10 year old self would be shocked that I'm talking about beets today. My 20 year old self would be confused, as usual. Luckily a lot can change in a few years, and yes, of course it's only been a few years.
My food world has become more open, or is it closed, since I've gotten older. Gone are the Nacho Cheese Doritos, Funyons, and salty packed products. Wikipedia defines funyons as an onion flavored corn snack - eck. In its place are natural sweet treats like carrot and broccoli chips and vegan smoky cashew chipotle cheese, which brings me to the beet. Beets are a natural snack that don't need any added sugar and can achieve pickled perfection on its own.
So back to my 10 and 20 year old selves. The beet and I got off to a rocky start. I didn't get it. The texture, the preparation, the flavor - none of it worked for me. I think I was just missing the grease and salt. My dad has always been the beet's champion, singlehandedly standing by it and loving it, long before it was on every menu with a sprinkling of goat cheese and walnuts.
When I started taking refined sugar out of my diet, I still would have some sweet cravings. Beets to the rescue as it has the highest sugar content of all vegetables, but don't compare them to a package of Oreos. Beets are packed with many healthy properties that can help lower your blood pressure, fight inflammation and assist with detoxification (from funyons and Doritos I'm hoping). They pack a plethora of vitamins like A, B & C, in addition to potassium, magnesium, fiber and iron. And now that my palate has been cleansed from years of abuse, I think they taste great!
I do think beets are still a pain to clean and prepare, but now I know that it's worth the trouble. I LOVE pickled vegetables, but HATE all the sugar that goes into them. I went sugarless on these pickled beets as I think the beets are sweet enough on their own. When you add the apple cider vinegar and some fresh orange, I don't think it needs anything else, except some garlic cloves and peppercorns for a little spice.
You can add these sugar-less orange pickled beets to a cheese platter (vegan or otherwise), put them on a green salad drizzled with fresh olive oil and walnuts, or eat them straight up as a snack. Eat them now before your older self scolds you!
Sugar Free Orange Pickled Beets
1 pound of fresh beets, stems and greens removed
3 garlic cloves
Handful of peppercorns
2 cups apple cider vinegar
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and then add the beets and cover. Cook until tender, or just before then if you like a more crisp beet like I do, about 25 - 30 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. Once cool, the skins should easily slide off. You might want to use a glove so it doesn't stain your fingers. Slice beets very thin with a sharp knife or mandolin, and place in a large sterilized quart mason jar.
Zest the orange and then juice it into the mason jar. Then add the garlic cloves, peppercorns, and 2 cups of apple cider vinegar to the jar. Fill the rest of the jar with water - about 1-1/2+ cups. Cover and shake to combine. Place in the refrigerator at least overnight or a few days if you can wait. Eat them right out of the jar or throw them on a green salad with toasted walnuts.