With their dramatic, rich red coloring, beets may be one of nature’s most alluring foods. These beautiful root vegetables do double duty, with the earthy-sweet bulbs and fresh greens both offering a myriad of health benefits. Beets and their greens can be enjoyed raw, cooked, juiced, steamed, roasted, sautéed, grilled and, for those who don’t love their flavor, they can even be snuck into chocolate cake or brownies. We recommend buying both whole, raw beets with the greens attached as well as stocking up on Melissa’s Steamed Baby Beets, which are pretty much the most convenient way we know to enjoy this vegetable superhero. Do yourself a favor and learn more about this powerhouse of produce, and all it can do for your health. Your body will thank you!
BEETS: THE BASICS:
BEET ROOTS: One cup of cooked beet root contains about 75 calories, with approximately 17 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, 14 grams of sugar and minimal fat. In addition to offering vitamins A, C and B9 (also known as folate), beetroots contain almost every metabolically important mineral, including manganese, potassium, iron, zinc, calcium, copper, magnesium and potassium.
BEET GREENS: One cup of cooked beet greens contains about 40 calories, with approximately 8 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and minimal sugar and fat. Beet greens are one of the best sources of vitamin K available, as well as an excellent source of vitamins A, C and B2 (also known as riboflavin). They also offer important minerals like copper, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron.
AMAZING BENEFITS OF BEETS:
Whether you’re a triathlete or just looking to run your first full mile, beets can help you achieve your fitness goals. Beet roots contain Betalains, an antioxidant family that actually gets its name from beets, because that is where scientists first isolated these compounds. Betalains give beets their rich, vibrant color. In 2016, researchers at the University of California, Davis, Sports Medicine Program studied how betalain supplementation affected male and female triathletes. Compared to athletes receiving the placebos, triathletes who had been taking betalain ran faster and recovered faster, with less muscle fatigue.
Fewer than 10% of Americans get enough potassium in their diet. Many people have heard that if they have a charlie horse, eating potassium can help, but in reality, it does more than that: it is actually necessary for the muscles to function. When levels of this important electrolyte drop too low, the muscles can’t contract—including the most important muscle of all, the heart. If you regularly feel weak or would like to improve sports performance, making sure you get enough potassium is a good place to start. Beet greens are an excellent source of potassium, and the roots are a good source as well.
If you or anyone you know has suffered from a heart attack, you may have heard of a medication called nitroglycerin. Doctors prescribe nitroglycerin to patients who suffer from angina, a condition that occurs when the heart doesn’t get enough blood because deposits of fat have narrowed the body’s blood vessels. Nitroglycerin helps relax and widen those blood vessels. This is all relevant because beets are one of nature’s best natural sources of nitrates. Consuming beets on a regular basis may help keep those blood vessels open, reducing overall risk for heart attack, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
Eating beets is one of the best things you can do for your body, as they contain a unique combination of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that contribute to better health and well-being. So, is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Maybe. Avoid beets if you know you have kidney or gallbladder problems. Otherwise, enjoy beets often. They can’t be beat!
Enjoy these recipes that were a huge hit at our Un’beet’able Flavors cooking class!
Beet and Feta Dip
- 4-5 Melissa’s Steamed Baby Beets
- ½ c feta cheese
- 2 Tbsp tahini
- 1 garlic clove
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To a food processor or high-powered blender, add beets, gets, tahini, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Blend until smooth.
- Serve with fresh cut vegetables or pita bread.
Beet Marinara with Lentil Pasta
- 12 oz bean or lentil pasta
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 (25oz) jar marinara sauce of choice
- 4-5 Melissa’s Steamed Baby Beets
- 2 cloves garlic
- Garnish options: Fresh basil, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast to taste
- Prepare pasta according to package instructions.
- In a food processor or high-powered blender add oil, marinara, beets, and garlic. Blend until pureed.
- Toss pasta in sauce and garnish with desired toppings.
Beet Pesto Pizza with Kale & Goat Cheese
For the Beet Pesto
- 1 c pureed Melissa’s Steamed Baby Beets
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- ½ c walnuts, roasted
- ½ c parmesan cheese, grated
- ½ c extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- Salt to taste
For the Pizza
- Pita bread
- Beet pesto
- Kale leaves, thinly sliced
- Mozzarella cheese
- Crumbled goat cheese
- Prepare beet pesto.
- Spread pesto onto pita bread. Add sliced kale.
- Top with goat cheese and mozzarella.
- Place in oven and broil until cheese is melted.
Recipe adapted from Honest Cooking.
Chocolate Beet Cupcakes
- ½ c pureed Melissa’s Steamed Baby Beets
- 1 c unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- ¾ c raw turbinado sugar
- ¼ c coconut oil, melted
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 c + 1 Tbsp flour
- ½ c unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Whisk together almond milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for a few minutes. Add sugar, oil, vanilla, and beets to milk mixture and beat until foamy.
- Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to a sifter and add to wet ingredients. Mix until there are no clumps.
- Pour batter into lined cupcake tins, filling ¾ of the way full. Bake 22-25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.
Recipe adapted from the Minimalist Baker
Nutrition information provided by guest author Real Food. Mostly Plants.