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.
How to select 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.
How to cook 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.
6 ways to eat beets:
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.
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.
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.
With a nutty buckwheat and almond flour crust, root vegetables, and Brazil nut/parsley pesto.
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.
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 flaky kosher salt.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
- What is your favorite way to eat beets (root or greens)?
- Have you ever made Borscht?