The first time I tried beets, I was in high school and on a calorie-restricted diet but was able to eat as much as I wanted from the all-veggie salad bar. After tiring of lettuce, carrots, and cucumber slices, I turned to the shredded red things that no one seemed to touch. I was shocked at how sweet they were – it was like eating candy (of course, when you’re on a diet without many sweets, a lot of things can taste like candy). My bowl of celery sticks turned to a bowl of beets and the conversion to beet-lover was made. What I didn’t realize is that in that bowl (approximately 1 cup), I was getting nearly 40 percent of my daily-recommended value of folate and a large amount of the phytonutrient betalains, shown to be high in anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and antioxidant properties.
RELATED: Roasted Beets with Honey and Dijon
Beets are often known more for their canned variety and let’s be honest: the appeal of vegetables from a can is often lost on people. The odd-looking root vegetable is loved by juicing fans, but for those of us who aren’t quite sure how to prepare it (or if we even want to eat it), it often gets skipped in favor of less intimidating veggies like carrots and potatoes. Whether you’re turned off by the funky root-in-the-raw or the bright purple color of the flesh, we urge you to give beets a second look.
Give Beets a Chance
If you’re ready to dive in head-first for a full beet experience, you can roast them for the full flavor of the vegetable. If you’re not quite ready for that, consider these ways to use beets:
- Beets as a natural food coloring: The gorgeous purple color of beets can be used as an alternative to artificial food coloring when you need red or pink. Simply boil the peeled, cut beet in water for instant color.
- Beets as a hidden vegetable: If you’re always looking for ways to incorporate more vegetables into your kids’ food, consider beets. They can be pureed and added to many sweet dishes like cakes, pies and brownies. (Check out the recipes below!)
- Beets as a sweetener: Did you know that a lot of sugar doesn’t come from sugar cane, but it comes from sugar beets? You can make your own sugar from beets by cutting up the beet into tiny pieces and boiling it in a little water. Reduce the heat after it comes to a boil, and remove the beets after juice is extracted. Continue to cook down the juice on low heat, then strain the sugar crystals from it. Or, replace some of your recipe liquid plus sugar and use the sweetened juice without straining the crystals.
Some recipes for the beet-resistant population:
- Chocolate Beet Cakes for Two (pictured) by Chocolate and Carrots: Chocolate cake. Enough said.
- Red Velvet Pancakes with Beets by Teach Eat Love: Beets are used as an artificial food coloring substitute in these fluffy, pink pancakes.
- Beet Root Brownies by Forbidden Rice Blog: The beets add moisture and sweetness to the already-amazing brownie.
Are you a beet fan?