a taste of beets

When I was in France, I experimented with a whole slew of root vegetables. Turnips, celeriac, parsnips, black radishes – you name it, I roasted it.

I also ate my fair share of beets, a nutrient-dense vegetable from the same botanical family as spinach, Swiss chard and quinoa. Originating in North Africa, beets were once cultivated exclusively for their greens while the bulbs were used for medicinal purposes or as feed for livestock.

Once the British restricted access to sugar cane in the 19th century, Napoleon declared beets to be the primary source of sugar. Not surprisingly, their popularity skyrocketed. Today, beets are consumed around the world, and for good reason. They are jam-packed with antioxidants and work wonders when it comes to anti-inflammation and detoxification.

Selecting beets…

If you’re short on time, opt for pre-cooked and packaged beets. Otherwise, choose firm, deep-red roots with the greens attached.

Insider Tip: When you get home from the store, immediately separate the unwashed greens from the bulbs (while leaving a few inches of the stem attached) and store separately in the refrigerator.

Cooking beets…

After thoroughly scrubbing the beets, wrap them individually in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour or until a fork can easily pierce through to the vegetable’s center. Once they have cooled, peel away the skin and store for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Insider Tip: The amount of phytonutrients in beets decreases the longer they’re cooked, so roasting time should be kept at an hour at most. Also, wear gloves when peeling beets unless you want to be left with maroon-stained fingers. Trust me on this one.

Eating beets…

Now for the fun part… eating.

While I have yet to try traditional Borscht or beetroot burgers, I have used beets in everything from smoothies and sandwiches to pizza and pasta.

  1. Beetroot smoothie bowl 

Inspired by Sarah Wilson’s recipe from her latest The I Quit Sugar Cookbook, I whipped up this smoothie bowl complete with beets, blueberries, bananas, unsweetened cacao powder, almond milk, coconut, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 12.06.10

2. Salads

The world is your oyster when it comes to beets and salads. Select a base – whether it’s crisp greens, protein-packed lentils, or warm quinoa – and start loading on the toppings.

Get creative and incorporate beet greens into your salad for a root-to-stem meal.

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lentils, carrots, beets, cucumbers and parsley
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greens, garbanzo beans, beets, shredded carrots and a lemon mustard dressing
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greens, radishes, beets, spiralized carrots and pumpkin seeds

3. Apple and beet grilled cheese 

… with my true love: camembert. Because the French know what they’re doing when it comes to fromage, and dairy nostalgia is a real thing.

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4. Root Vegetable Pizza

With a buckwheat/almond flour crust, root vegetables, and parsley pesto, this pizza is unbeetable. (Sorry, I had to.)

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5. Buckwheat pasta with beets

For more of a sauce-like consistency, throw cooked beets into the blender with garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes. Blend until smooth, adding pasta water if necessary.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 11.59.48

6. White bean, beet and egg toast 

Whoever said avocado is the best topping for toast has obviously never tried this combo. Start by toasting a slice of sourdough. Roughly mash white beans (traditional hummus would also work) and spread out the mixture before layering on red and golden yellow beets and hard-boiled eggs. Top it off with a generous sprinkle of hemp seeds and kosher salt.

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WHAT ABOUT YOU?

  • What is your favorite way to eat beets (root or greens)?
  • Have you ever made Borscht?

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