Any way you slice them, beets are a versatile part of a healthy diet.
Beets contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, including several of the B vitamins, vitamin C zinc, selenium, manganese, phosphorus. Also rich in antioxidants (lutein, betalain, and zeaxanthin), beets support the body’s ability to eliminate toxins and free radicals. Like most nutrient-dense veggies, beets support the immune system and are potent staples in an anti-inflammatory diet.
Beets for digestion
Since beets are also rich in fiber, including them in your diet helps support a healthy digestive system and can prevent common problems like indigestion and constipation. Just don’t be surprised to see a reddish pigment in your stool or urine. (If that persists when not eating beets, it’s best to consult your doctor).
Picking out the best beets
In addition to purple, beets come in red, gold, and pink. When selecting beets, opt for organic whenever possible. Look for small or medium-sized roots. Skins should be smooth and evenly colored. Beet greens or roots might look a little beat up, but they are quite hardy. Avoid choosing beets that show dark spots, bruises or wet areas, which indicate the vegetable is rotting.
What to do with all these beets?
Generally, you’ll want to use the beets soon after bringing them home. This delicious root vegetable is versatile, nutritious, and easy to prepare. From the plump, juicy, bulb, to the root and greens, there are a number of ways to add this veggie to a meal and reap the health benefits. Slice up beets for salads or as an addition to yogurt. Roast them or dice them into a stir fry (adding at the very end).
If you have a large number of beets or aren’t using them right away, check out these tips for storage of the bulb and greens from Harvest to Table.
And if you’re looking for recipes, try my excellent Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Walnuts and Quinoa, below.
Enjoy this as a main course or side salad. It goes particularly well with a healthy entree (we suggest grilled fish). It’s also sure to be a hit at a picnic.
Ingredients for the Salad
30 – 45oz canned whole beets or 1# beets (2 1/2-3″) for roasting*
5 oz baby arugula or mixed greens (4 cups)
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup quinoa
4 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
*Most people opt to use canned beets for this recipe, but if you would like to roast them, do that first. Instructions are below.
Ingredients for the Vinaigrette
1/2 cup EVOO
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cook quinoa in boiling, salted water for 8-11 minutes. Drain well and cool. (Quinoa can be made up to 24 hrs ahead).
Drain and dry canned beets, or if using roasted beets, cool and peel. Cut beets into bite-sized pieces. Tip: put a sheet of parchment paper on your cutting board to prevent staining.
Using a small bowl, whisk ingredients for the vinaigrette together and set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine cut beets and 1/4 cup of the dressing. Toss to coat. Let beets marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
Place greens, shredded carrots and 1/2 cup cooked quinoa in a salad bowl and toss with dressing to taste.
Arrange tossed salad on plates or platter. Top with marinated beets, then sprinkle with the walnuts and goat cheese. Serve immediately.
To roast beets:
Set the oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Trim the tops off the beets, leaving 1/2 inch of the stem. Wash and scrub dirt from the beets and dry well.
Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap the beets tightly in aluminum foil and place on a sheet tray.
Roast the beets until fork-tender, about 40 to 60 minutes, time will vary depending on the size of the beets. Check every 20 minutes for doneness.
Allow beets to cool, peel and cut into 1/2-inch wedges.