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A seasonal Story with A Sweet Treat

It’s National Storytelling Week from 30th January to 6th February, so take a break from homeschooling with this tale from the Table of Delights team. They’re on a mission to sow the seeds of healthier eating through storytelling. Keep reading to discover a chocolate beetroot cake recipe the whole family will enjoy. 


A long time ago, there lived a modest farmer with a huge heart. On his farm he grew many things; carrots and turnips in the autumn; berries and lettuces in the summer. He tended his plots with love and hard work, nurturing and watering them day and night.

And it was not only the soil the kind farmer cared for. He was forever thinking of others. Nowhere did vegetables grow better than on his farm. But he gave so many away to neighbours from the surrounding villages that there were rarely enough left for him to live on. If he saw a poor man, he would feed him. No sooner did he see hungry children than he gave away bunches of carrots. Soon, there was nothing left for him to eat or sell at the market, and he became poor and hungry. He overturned the soil but it was empty of promise.

One morning, just before the winter frosts, the farmer noticed bright-green leaves poking through the soil. He dug wearily, parting clods of earth. Two lumps lay just beneath the surface. “What have we here?” he said, dusting them off. One was the size of a cricket ball, with frothy leaves sprouting from its gnarly head. The other was heart-shaped with elegant tendrils.

A cheeky robin landed on the farmer’s shoulder. “Don’t they look tasty?” she sang in his ear. “You should eat them before I do!” The farmer’s stomach growled like an angry bear. “Scrub and chop them,” another voice piped up. “They have purple skin and ruby-red insides,” said a tiny hedgehog. “What… never… talking creatures?!” exclaimed the farmer.  He was delirious with hunger and thought he was imagining things. “If these vegetables were sweet and tender, I could have them for my dinner,” he replied longingly. “They may look tough,” said hedgehog, “but like you, beetroots are sweet. Cook them and they will become tender and tasty,” he enthused. 

“You looked after them and all the other vegetables, and you never once thought of yourself,” said the robin. “And some say they are a love potion!” she giggled. “Eat them, you deserve it.” The farmer looked wistfully at his last two vegetables. “Keep their seeds, plant them and they will come back again,” the robin said.

So the farmer did as his animal friends suggested and washed and cooked the two strange vegetables. He added one to his last handful of rice, transforming it into a dazzling pink dish. It was the sweetest thing he had ever tasted and he savoured every mouthful. He added the other beetroot to his last sprinkling of flour and egg. The rich purple cake was naturally sweet and delicious. It gave him so much energy and he felt full and happy.

Later that season the farmer planted the seeds. Hundreds of beetroots grew underground, their taproots entwined deep beneath the soil. When the time came he pulled them from the earth. They were gloriously pigmented: deep crimson, golden, creamy white and striped like candy cane. The kind farmer shared a feast of pink rice, purple cake and sunshine beet salad with the local people – a colourful spread that filled eyes as well as stomachs.

One heart became very full that night. It belonged to a rosy-cheeked lady from the village, who caught the farmer’s eye across the table, and they very quickly fell in love. From that day on they grew vegetables on the farm together, and the bounteous, colourful beetroots were always the sweetest. Story by Katy Carmichael.


Beetroot Chocolate Cake

This recipe’s tasty twist comes from the beetroot, giving it an earthy sweetness.

Get the recipe >

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