Sweet, earthy, and vibrant in color, beets pack a powerful punch when it comes to flavor and health benefits. Raw or cooked, in soup or salad, grilled or otherwise, this cardiovascular-friendly vegetable has so many possibilities for the palate and the body. Here are 7 reasons to love this earthy flavorful root veggie even more!
1. Beets Are Available Year Round
Beets are available year-round, but the best time to buy them is June through October when they are most tender. If homegrown, beets can be stored over the winter in several different ways. A crisper in the refrigerator will keep beets just as firm as when they were first lifted from the ground for several months. And don’t rule out canning your beets; they can be transformed into wonderful dishes. Plus, they are very inexpensive and store for years!
2. They Come In Many Varieties and Colors
Varieties include red, golden, and Chioggia, which have a red and white bulls-eye pattern when sliced. Let’s not forget the greens that grow up tall from the beetroot. These are similar to spinach and can be prepared in a similar way. When harvested young, beet greens make a wonderful addition to salads, plus they can also be stored over the winter by blanching and freezing them. They are a wonderful addition to soups, burritos, and stir-fries.
3. They’re Packed With Nutrition
Beets are incredibly nutritious. They are high in folate. A healthy diet with enough folate may reduce a woman’s risk of having a child with certain birth defects of the brain or spinal cord. Beetroots are also full of the phytonutrient betalain, which together with the folate works as an anti-inflammatory, and lowers your risk of heart disease. The pigments that cause varieties of beets to be red, betacyanins, are potent cancer fighters, especially against colon cancer.
A Note About Beets – Don’t Panic!
Don’t panic if you see red after a visit to the restroom after eating this colorful root veggie. The technical term for the presence of these red pigments in urine or stool is beeturia. Around 10 to 14 percent of the population experiences this!
4. You Can Eat The Greens
Beet greens are even more nutritious than bulbs. They are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, iron, and potassium. Vitamin A is important for vision, growth and development, skin health, immune function, and reproduction. Vitamin C is important in immune response, wound healing, and allergic reactions, and also helps with iron absorption.
They can be eaten raw or cooked—they’re delicious either way!
5. Beets Are Easy to Store
- Separate beet greens from the roots, leaving 1-2 inches of stem still attached to the bulb.
- Store roots and greens separately.
- Beet greens can be wrapped in a damp paper or cloth towel and stored in a refrigerator drawer.
- The roots can be left uncovered in a refrigerator drawer or kept in a paper bag.
- Beetroots will keep for several weeks (but beet greens are best used right away).
- Both beet greens and roots can be blanched and frozen for up to 1 year. The roots can be left chopped or pureed and added to soups, salads, pesto, red velvet cake, smoothies, or hummus.
- If storing beetroots from your garden or a CSA for the winter, check out this link for storage preparation.
6. Beets Can Be Eaten Raw Or Cooked
- Wash beet greens in plenty of water and cook as you would any tender greens such as spinach. Saute in olive oil with a little garlic for a healthy side dish.
- Wash and gently scrub beet roots to remove dirt. Early in the summer the very young beets can be eaten with the skin on, but the matured beets will need to be peeled. Peel before or after cooking (the skin comes off much easier after cooking).
- Beet roots can be eaten raw as well as cooked. Try grating them raw and adding to salads (good with grated raw carrots) or using as a topping on tacos, burritos, or tostadas.
- Beets are good combined with other root vegetables such as onions, carrots, potatoes, or celery root.
- They can be roasted, steamed, grilled, boiled, and baked.
- Good seasonings include olive oil, vinegar, lemon, mustard, cilantro, curry, yogurt, and/or sour cream.
- Cooked beets (in any form) can be pureed and used to make wonderful spreads and warming winter beverages.
7. They Taste Delicious In Many Recipes
Here are a few recipes for enjoying this versatile root veggie!
Simple Roasted Beets
- Beets (any quantity you desire)
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oven to 425º F.
- Wash and dry beets.
- Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, then and wrap beets in foil.
- Roast for about 1 and 1/2 hours.
- Let beets cool in the foil, and then simply rub the skin off and slice.
- Can be used for so many recipes, topping for salads, soups, dips, smoothies!
- 1/2 pound beets (about 4 medium sized beets), scrubbed clean, cooked (roasted, steamed, or boiled), peeled, and cubed*
- 2 tablespoon tahini sesame seed paste
- 5 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 small clove garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest from approx. 2 lemons)
- Generous pinch of sea salt or Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until smooth.
- Taste and adjust seasonings and ingredients as desired.
- Chill and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.
- Eat with pita chips, or with sliced cucumber or celery, or on a crostini with goat cheese and shaved mint.
- Wonderful on sandwiches too!
- 2 cups cooked beets, sliced or diced
- 1 1/4 cups beet liquid (reserved from cooked beets)
- 3 tbs cornstarch
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbs vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbs butter
- Mix cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a saucepan.
- Blend in beet liquid, vinegar, and butter.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until thickened.
- Add beets and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Serve hot or cold.
Beet Apple and Raisin Salad
- 1 cup sour cream, low fat or non fat
- 2-3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2-3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 3 small bunches of beets (3/4 pound) trimmed, peeled and grated using large holes on grater
- 3 sweet, crisp apples (life Fuji, Gala, Honey Crisp or Braeburn), cored and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 5 tablespoons golden raisins
- 3 tablespoons toasted, chopped nuts
- 3 tablespoons chopped chives
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a small bowl prepare dressing by mixing sour cream, mustard and vinegar and set aside.
- In a larger bowl combine beets, apples, raisins, nuts, and chives.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Toss with dressing and serve.
Red Velvet Smoothie
- 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt- plain or vanilla
- 1/4-1/2 cup milk
- 1/3 cup roasted beets (I use mostly golden beets and a few red beets for color. Golden beets tend to have less of that earthy-beet taste)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup frozen raspberries
- Half of a frozen banana (optional)
- 4-6 drops liquid stevia or a few tsp. of your favorite sweetener
- Place everything in a blender and puree. Great served warm or cold!
Sauteed Beet Greens
- 1 pound beet greens
- 1 strip of thick cut bacon, chopped (or a tablespoon of bacon fat)
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 3/4 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/6 cup cider vinegar
- Wash the greens in a sink filled with cold water. Drain greens and wash a second time. Drain greens and cut away any heavy stems (optional). Cut leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- In a large skillet or 3-quart saucepan, cook bacon until lightly browned on medium heat (or heat 1 tablespoon of bacon fat). Add onions, cook over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and start to brown. Stir in garlic.
- Add water to the hot pan, stirring to loosen any particles from bottom of pan. Stir in sugar and red pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Add the beet greens, and gently toss in the onion mixture so the greens are well coated.
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 5-15 minutes until the greens are tender. Stir in vinegar. (For kale or collard greens continue cooking an additional 20 to 25 minutes or until desired tenderness.)
Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting
- 10 oz red beets, (scrubbed)
- 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 3/4 cup whole buttermilk
- 4 large eggs
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 tbs unsweetened cocoa
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tps fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 8 oz. package softened cream cheese
- 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
- 1 16 oz package powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup toasted pecans (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Wrap beets in parchment paper. Microwave on high until tender, 8-10 min.
- Cool beets wrapped in paper until just warm to the touch.
- Peel beets, and coarsely chop. Process chopped beets and lemon juice in a food processor until finely chopped, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Add oil and buttermilk. Process until smooth.
- Add eggs. Process until completely combined.
- Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add beet mixture and whisk just until combined.
- Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with baking liners.
- Using an ice-cream scoop, a spoon, or a liquid measuring cup, fill liners two- thirds full with batter.
- Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes.
- Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove from pans to racks, and cool completely.
- Beat cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or with a handheld mixer on medium speed until very smooth.
- Gradually add powdered sugar, beating on low speed until blended and light and fluffy.
- Beat in vanilla.
- Spread frosting on cupcakes with spatula, spoon, or ziplock freezer bag (cut 1 corner of bag to make small hole and pipe frosting on cupcakes).
- Sprinkle with pecans, if desired.
Denise Dill is a co-op livin', garden diggin', homegrown cookin' fool who creates soups of song out of local ingredients. She's currently working as a baker and soup maker while she completes culinary school. In the past, she worked as an urban gardener and community cooking educator. She has also toured the country as a folk musician, opening for such acts as Pamela Means and Hamell on Trial.