Beets: Tasty, Versatile, Nutritious

When it comes to versatile vegetables, beets just can’t be beet. (Please forgive us.) If you buy a bunch of beets with the greens intact, you can even work with two ingredients for the price of one—most people think of beets as the sweet bulb, but the greens are also full of vital nutrients.

Nutritionists encourage us to eat a rainbow of colored vegetables to ensure that we get a good variety of vitamins, so beets kill two colors with one purchase.

In addition to having anti-inflammatory and powerful antioxidant properties, beets can also lower cholesterol…and even aid those with dandruff. The iron found in beets, in liquid form, is effective for blood cleansing, too. (Before adding beet juice to a cleansing routine, read up on recommended serving sizes, as too much beet juice can cause dizziness.) Meanwhile, the root covers a different range of benefits.

Here’s how to get your money’s worth from your beets:

Different Ways To Prepare Beets.

Beet roots can be eaten raw, baked, boiled, juiced, roasted, or fried. Besides the classic “beet red,” you’ll uncover a wide array of colors, including candy-striped. The colors are good indicators of sugar content (reds are sweetest); the sugar beet is even commercially used to make sugar. If you plan to roast your beets, peel the roots before cooking—I like tossing them with olive oil. Otherwise, peel them after they’re “knife-tender” to maximize nutritional impact. Regardless of when you peel, wear rubber gloves to protect your skin from absorbing the vegetable’s dark pigment. Also, note that the more you cook them, the more nutrients that will escape. Optimum cook time for steaming is about 15 minutes, and under an hour for roasting.

How To Use The Leafy Greens At The Top.

The leafy greens are best when they’re quickly sautéed, but they can also be boiled, roasted, or eaten raw. The spiny stalks are edible, too, but they take longer to cook than the greens. Once you have your bunch of beets, separate the greens from the roots, which extends the life of the root to about two weeks in the fridge. The greens are good for a week if you repackage them in a bag that allows ventilation. Don’t clean either until you’re ready to use them. Some ways to enjoy them:

  • With goat cheese. Beet root and goat cheese is a classic combination, and the same goes for beet greens.
  • Use beet greens as you would spinach or chard—they work in a hearty, super-green salad.
  • Sauté with garlic and oil or bacon.

Words Of (Colorful) Wisdom.

Beets will maintain their vibrant colors—both the greens and the roots—with the addition of acid, like vinegar or citrus. Conversely, an alkaline, like baking soda, creates darker colored beets. When mixing beets with other ingredients, add the beets to the dish right before serving, as they will surely bleed into other components.

To scroll through some of my favorite beet recipes, click the images below.

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