Sweet Beet Salad

Sweet Beet Salad

Sweet Beet Salad

I intended to share this recipe next week or the week after. However it has a story to go with it that pertains to my health in the last week so I wanted to share both while it’s still lingering in my head.

Last week Tuesday I started itching near bedtime. I was scratching furiously and I thought it was hives. It started my brain whirling. What did I have to eat that is different? What have I used that is different?

I had it narrowed down to the beet salad or the comforter and European pillow shams I took out of a space bag which had last been washed when I still used scented fabric softener.

Two days later a rash developed. On my arms, my legs, and my hips. I realized that it was a familiar rash. The same one I had several times last year and drove me to urgent care where they just gave me a prescription for steroids and sent me on my not-so-merry way. This is the same rash I haven’t seen since removing eggs from my diet.

It was bad this time around. I caved and took diphenhydramine. Something I shouldn’t be taking because it exacerbates Sjögren’s symptoms. But when you’re scratching yourself raw so much that you can’t bear to sit still, lie still, or the feel of clothes against your skin, something has to give. I only took at at night for a few nights. It helped me sleep through the night, then it stopped working. I slathered myself with my Skin Soothing Mask every morning before my bath and let it dry before washing it off. It gave me some relief for a few hours. I dug out my Natralia Eczema & Psoriasis Cream that I used on the same rash last year.  Again, some relief for a few hours.

Things got worse over the weekend. Waking up in the early hours of the morning with wild itching coursing through my body and unable to return to sleep for a few hours. It was so bad that I had to cancel my ophthalmologist appointment in Louisville on Monday, as well as visits to see two people while I was supposed to be in town.

I went in for my allergy treatment this morning (Wednesday) and let the doctor know what was going on and what I suspected. I didn’t think it was the beet salad, but it was the only thing different and I knew from the rash that it was definitely something I ingest. He played around a little to see what my brain was responding to. Surprise of all surprises, coconut oil. Something I used topically, for oil pulling, and to pop popcorn in. I like to use it in baking, but I haven’t been baking with all these food allergies going on. 

Not only was my brain saying it didn’t like coconut oil, it was telling my body to have a full-blown IgE reaction to it. If it’s one thing I’ve learned about my body, it doesn’t do anything halfway. It likes to go big and hard. Forget going home. That’s for wussies.

So, he treated me for the coconut oil as well as some other oils my brain wasn’t liking (but not to the same degree). Cottonseed oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil just to name a few.

This is only the third time we’ve done a food related allergy treatment. Since the initial two visits where he treated sugars and food preservatives respectively, it’s been treatments for things like carpet, dust, dust mites, myself (yes, it IS possible to be allergic to yourself), flowers, etc. I cannot use any oils topically or ingest for the rest of today. I joked that it would make dinner interesting. Then I realized, how am I going to fix dinner without oils? I had my answer before I was two blocks from the office.

Now I know that it definitely wasn’t the beet salad I made, which makes me a little sad because I tossed some of the leftovers just in case it was the cause. I am definitely going to be making it again. I intended to make it with just the beets. While I was pulling the produce out of the fridge for my mise en place I wound up tossing the apples to make my Gingered Apples (to go with the pork chops I was making) next to the beets on the counter.  The sight of the beets and apples next to each other gave me pause. A long pause. Why cook apples on a hot night when you can grate them and mix them in with beets?

I used some raw local honey because I used lemon juice in the dressing and to keep the apples from oxidizing. I wanted to make sure the lemon didn’t overpower the rest of the salad and it didn’t. I think the sweetness of the apples was enough to cut the tartness. You can omit the honey or use another sweetener if you are vegan.

Sweet Beet Salad – serves 6-8

4 Fuji apples, grated (skin on)

3 beets, peeled and grated

1/2 lemon, juiced, divided

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 teaspoon raw local honey (optional, or use another sweetener of choice)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Coat grated apples with the lemon juice except for 1 tablespoon set aside for the dressing in a large bowl. Add the beets and mix well. In a small bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, grapeseed oil, sweetener (if using), and ginger. Add the dressing to the salad and mix well to coat. Serve room temperature or cold.

This post is linked to Wellness Weekends at Diet, Dessert and Dogs. 


  1. Oh Debi, I’m really sorry. What a miserable experience! And I’m sorry to hear that coconut oil is the culprit. But that’s better than beets, right? I know how much you love them! Thanks for this wonderful recipe. Funny, it sounds like one of my favorite juices…beet, apple, ginger.

    Have a happy 4th!

    • Thanks, Heather! I think beet, apple, and ginger is a favorite juice of mine, too. 😀 I’m just glad I know what the culprit is now. Feeling MUCH better today. Not all better, but definitely not so itchy that I’m scratching myself raw.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear you were so itchy! And what a bummer that it was coconut oil causing the reaction! 😦 BUT, I’m so glad you were able to figure it out. Not so many people are lucky enough to actually figure out the culprit.

    Beets are actually not a favorite food of mine, but I do enjoy them in a salad I make that’s somewhat similar to yours. There’s something special about beets with apples and ginger! 🙂

    • Thanks, Megan! I think with everything I have going on if I couldn’t figure out the culprit I’d go mad. I’m very thankful I have such a great “healing team” (as they like to call themselves) and that alternative medicine has been one of the best things for me. I’m thankful that I’m so in tune with my body that I have a pretty good idea of what is causing the problem before I even step through the doors. Is it bad that I love hearing them say, “You’re right?” LOL

      I used to HATE beets. But after having some several years back on a salad Chaz had I realized they weren’t all that bad. It’s the canned beets that my mother used to make that didn’t do it for me. Fresh beets, they rock my world. And with the apples, you barely notice them! 😀

  3. Oh Debi, I’m so sorry to hear that! I felt for you as I read this post this morning (I haven’t been able to get on to comment until now). Coconut oil, of all things! I hope that this is only temporary for you, since it seemed you were experiencing positive results with the oil pulling. I hope you’re feeling better and heal from that rash soon.

    • Thanks, Zoe! I’m feeling better and it should be temporary. I’m avoiding all coconut for a little while just to make sure the treatment holds. The itchiness came back last night and it was either my soap (which I make with coconut oil) or the clothes I was wearing (not 100% cotton). Doing better this morning all around and went out to buy *gasp* soap without coconut oil. 😀 I’m still oil pulling! I’m using olive oil right now. I thought it was going to be too strong, but I think with as dry as my mouth is I don’t even taste it until I spit it out. YAY!

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