Why & How to Eat More Beets
Beet season is here! These healthy root veggies are in season from June through November. Here are some tips on choosing, cooking, and storing your summer beets.
If your only experience with beets are those slices or chunks that come from a can, I hope that you’ll give the real deal a try this summer. Canned beets do have some nutritional value, but beets lose much of their character in the canning process.
Some folks find beets intimidating. They’re kind of cumbersome-looking on the shelf, and that bright pink juice stains like crazy. These summer veggies are worth the effort, and I have some tips below to make prepping your beets a little bit easier.
Before we get to the cooking, let’s talk about their nutritional value!
Health Benefits of Beets and Beet Greens
Beets are packed with nutrients. Whether you choose red or golden beets, you’re loading up on healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You can eat both the beet root and its greens, and each part of the beet has lots of health benefits.
Beet root contains nitrites which help boost energy, lower blood pressure, and improve circulation. It also contains a special group of anti-inflammatory antioxidants called betalains that help protect your body from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you’re able to find beets with the greens still on, don’t toss them into the compost! Beet greens are one of the top 10 healthiest vegetables that you can eat, according to a new list from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They’re packed with vitamins A and K, which make them excellent for eye health. A cup of cooked beet greens also contains four grams of protein!
Shopping for and Storing Beets
Choose beets that are nice and hard without any soft spots. I find it easiest to choose good beets if the greens are on. If the beet greens are looking wilted, that means that they’ve been sitting out for a while. The best beets have bright greens that don’t show too many signs of wilt.
Once you get the beets back home, cut the greens away from the roots. I’ve read that you should store the beet root in a plastic bag, but mine do just fine sitting loose in the produce drawer as long as I use them within three to five days. I also keep my beet greens loose, just wrapped with a rubber band or twist tie. You’ll want to use the greens within three days of buying them.
I have a recipe below for beet root and one for beet greens. Before we get to that I wanted to share, here’s a life-changing secret about beet root: generally, you don’t need to peel it.
Instead of peeling, grab yourself a scrubby brush, and go to town. Beet root grows under ground, so you want to scrub all of that dirt and grime away. The only part of the beet that you need to cut away is the pointy root at the very bottom and the tough part at the top where the greens were attached.
Beet greens behave very much like Swiss chard when you’re cooking. This makes sense, since beets and chard are related! I have a beet greens recipe below, and you can also use these yummy dark and leafies in any recipe that calls for chard.
This is hands-down my favorite way to prepare beets. It’s easy, delicious, and roasting brings out the beet’s natural sweetness.
- 2 cups of beets, chopped into 1″ cubes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, whole
1. Preheat your oven to 425F.
2. Toss the beets, olive oil, OJ, ginger, and garlic together right in your roasting pan.
3. Bake for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to make sure they roast up evenly.
Pan-Fried Beet Greens
This recipe is adapted from my Ginger-Sesame Kale. Beet greens are more tender than kale (think Swiss chard), so the cooking time is a little bit different. They also cook down more than kale does, so the same amount of raw greens yields fewer cooked greens.
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 6 cups of beet greens, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2″ piece of fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce, or to taste
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/8 cup toasted sesame seeds
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat.
2. Add the beet greens, garlic, and ginger, and cook, stirring constantly, until the greens turn bright green. This happens pretty quickly, so keep a close eye on those greens! Add the soy sauce and Sriracha and cook for a few more minutes.
3. Transfer to your serving bowl and toss with the lemon juice and sesame seeds.