Beets? If you are like me, this is one vegetable that I seldom even thought about. I can’t remember ever eating it as a kid. My mother says that her mother forced beets on her so many times that she was determined to never eat them again when she grew up! But today beets, both the root vegetable and the greens, are one of the hottest trends in food circles. They were the highlight in both the January 2016 issue of Good Housekeeping and of Bon Appetit. There are more than 1,500 recipes for beets on Food.com. And there are plenty of blurbs about beets on both Pinterest and Twitter. Restaurants are adding beets to their menus across the nation. In the last couple of years, 903 new products using beets have been introduced to the market.
So maybe it’s time we took a closer look at the humble beet! Let’s consider their health benefits and see just why we should be eating beets. Then we’ll consider some of the different ways we can add beets to our menu.
Health Benefits of Beets
Beets have a wide range of benefits because of their nutritional content, including vitamins, mineral, and organic compounds like:
- Dietary fiber
- Vitamin C
- Beneficial flavonoids
They are very low in calories and have no cholesterol, but they do have the highest sugar content of all vegetables. Here are some of the specific benefits they provide:
- Beets fight cancer—the high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories can reduce the risk of cancer. Betacyanin, the source of their bright red color, helps defend cells against harmful carcinogens. The unique fiber found in beets has been linked to lower colon cancer risk.
- Beets lower the risk of heart disease—drinking beet juice has been reported to be able to help lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. The nitrates in beets are converted to nitric oxide, which helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improve blood flow, and thereby lower blood pressure.
- Beets reduce the risk of dementia—the nitric acid produced by beets helps to increase blood flow, including to your brain. Tests done on older adults showed that after eating a high-nitrate diet that included beet juice, the adults had greater blood flow to their frontal lobes.
- Beets boost eye health—the tops of beets, the beet greens, are a good source of lutein, which helps to protect the eyes from age-related problems like macular degeneration and cataracts. The phytochemicals in beets can help to improve overall eye health and nerve tissues.
- Beets combat constipation—because beets are chock full of fiber, they help to keep the digestive system running smoothly.
Other benefits include:
- Reduce birth defects
- Good for liver health
- Prevents respiratory problems
- Known as an aphrodisiac
- Boost energy levels
- Speed healing of wounds
There are many other health benefits to beets, so I highly recommend that you do some of your own research to see how they may be able to benefit your own specific health needs.
How to Select and Store Beets
Using freshly harvested beets.
If you are going to use real harvested beets here are some hints for finest the best beets to buy.
Choose small or medium-sized beets with firm roots, smooth skins, and a deep red color.
- Avoid beets with spots, bruises, or soft wet areas.
- Look for beets with fresh, tender, and bright green tops.
- Cut most of the tops off, leaving about 2 inches to prevent the roots from bleeding.
- Store unwashed beets in a plastic bag from which you have squeezed the air. They will keep up to 3 weeks.
- Store the unwashed greens in a plastic bag with the air squeezed out. They will only keep about 3-4 days.
Buying beets products
Many beet products are being marketed during this beet trend. I recommend that you determine that any beet products you use are organic and free of additives and chemicals. Here are a few that I would recommend.
- Ruby Queen Beets
- Organic Beet Juice
- Organic Beet Juice Powder
- Beet Root Capsules
- Beet Tortilla Chips
- Pickled Beets
- Beet Sugar
- Organic Beet Shake
- Beetroot Chutney
As you can see, there just is no reason for you not to test out my Better with Beets suggestion.
Preparing Beets for Your Menu
I want to give you some suggestions for how you can get some healthy beets in your diet. There are so many ways to use them, and I suggest you just schedule a beet for 7 days week where you try several of these suggestions.
- Cooking raw beets—Some of the nutrients in beets can be destroyed by heat, so it is recommended that you steam beets for 15 minutes to maximize their nutrition and flavor. If you wait to peel them after steaming, you can rub the skin off with a paper towel Note: Wear kitchen gloves!
- Adding raw beets to salads or soups—simply grate the amount of beets you want to use for a healthy and colorful addition to salads and soups.
- Beet Greens Side Dish—Beet greens are a tasty side dish, served similar to the way you would serve Swiss Chard or Kale.
- Add beet rounds to sandwiches—great with goat cheese or in a Reuben.
- Prepare pickled beets—pickled or fermented food are so good for us.
- Add them to certain dessert dishes for extra deliciousness—beets can be the secret ingredient to bakery items and even ice cream. (Stay tuned for a dessert recipe.)
- Learn to make Borscht—it is a recipe that has been passed down for hundreds of years and the authentic way to serve beets. It really is delicious, so try it for yourself.
These are just a few of the ways to serve beets. I’ve tried a few recipes, and I plan to try more. Let me share some of my favorite recipes with you.
Better with Beet Recipes
Refrigerator Pickled Beets
These pickled beets are so delicious and really easy to make. Fermented foods are full of probiotics (good bacteria), which help us to assimilate the nutrients better. It stimulates stomach acid, helping the digestive process. And fermented foods last forever in the fridge.
- 1 pound fresh beets
- 1 small red onion
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cups apple cider vinegar
- ½ cups water
- 1 TBSP honey
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
To prepare the beets, trim greens and root ends. Wash the beets thoroughly using a soft scrub brush, place in a pot and cover with water by about an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat then lower the heat and simmer for 35 to 45 minutes or until beets are easily pierced with a fork. Remove from heat, drain and rinse with cold water. Peel the beets. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, thinly slice the beets. Arrange the beet slices in alternating layers with the onion slices in a 1-quart canning jar and set aside. In a small saucepan, place the vinegar, water, salt, honey, black peppercorns and bay leaves and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and pour over beets leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Let cool completely. Screw on lid and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours before serving.
Mashed beets would be a great way to introduce this trendy vegetable to your family. They are delicious, creamy and perfectly seasoned. Remember that if you do not want red hands, you will want to wear rubber gloves while preparing these.
- 3-4 beets, cleaned and peeled, and cut in 1-inch pieces
- ¼ to ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 TBSP melted butter
- ½ cup finely diced fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper
You could either boil or roast the beets. If you boil them, just throw them in a pot of boiling water and cook until soft. If you choose to roast, lay the beets across an oiled cookie tray and bake at 450 degrees until soft (roughly 30 min). Once the beets are softened, transfer them to a mixing bowl. Add the milk gradually while you mash the beets, tasting as you go. Immersion blender, mixer, or food processor will do. Add the butter and parsley and continue to mix. Season with salt and pepper and adjust the dairy components if desired.
These mashed beets are delicious with poultry and fish.
Luscious Beet Brownies
These beetroot brownies are not only delicious—they are also healthy for you. And they are easy to make.
- 5 oz. dark chocolate, 72% or higher cocoa content
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ⅓ cup raw honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup blanched almond flour
- 2 TBSP coconut flour
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp sale
- 2 cooked beets, pureed (or use organic canned beets)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees °F. Grease an 8×8 pan with coconut oil, then dust with blanched almond flour. Set aside. In a double boiler, gently melt the chocolate. (If you don’t have a double boiler then fill a skillet with a few inches of water and set a small pot in the water, place over very low heat.) Add the coconut oil and raw honey. Mix until fully combined. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. In small bowl combine the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts. Add the cooled chocolate mixture. In a medium bowl combine almond flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Pour in the wet ingredients and mix until fully combined. Mix in the pureed beets. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until fully set. Cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before cutting. *Tip: Use a serrated, plastic knife to cut your brownies — this makes it less likely to crumble.
More Favorite Beet Recipes
- Beet Kvass: A Deeply Nourishing Immune Tonic
- Marinated Roasted Beets (one of my all time favorite beet recipes)
- Roasted Beet and Watermelon Salad
So—Get Eating Those Beets
I hope you’ve been able to see that there are a lot of good reasons to be eating your beets! Try some of the suggestions in my blog, or do your own research to find a recipe that sounds good to you. With so many good health benefits, it’s no wonder that the humble beet has skyrocketed to being one of the top ten trends in the food arena. So try it—you’ll like it.
“The beet must be uprooted.”
 These five Health Benefits are adapted from: https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/beets-health-benefits/.