The Mighty Beet
Submitted by: Sandra Smith, PMH Registered Dietitian
With the last half of summer approaching, gardens and farmer’s markets start filling up with plenty of garden vegetables. One of our family’s favourites is the beet. The most common beet we see is the red variety. However, beets come in a few colours, including yellow, pink and white beets, and a fun variety called candy stripe, a red and white striped version. Beets are naturally low in calories but contain lots of nutrients.
When choosing beets, halfyourplate.ca recommends that you choose firm, uniform beets free of blemishes and attached leaves be deep green and fresh looking. Beets store well for future use. It is recommended to separate the beets from the leaves, leaving 1 to 2 inches (2.5 -5 cm) of stems attached to the beet. Store leaves and beets in separate sealed plastic bags in the refrigerator vegetable bin. The leaves will last 2 to 3 days, and the beets will last 2 to 3 weeks.
Most recipes call for eating the beetroot, but did you know that you can also eat the beet leaves? Wash the leaves well, and then use them the same as you would spinach. Our family enjoys steamed beet greens; you can find a recipe here (How to Cook Beet Greens – COOKtheSTORY). I often cook extra beet greens and then freeze them in freezer bags in the amount our family would use for a meal. This makes for a quick vegetable side dish in the winter months. Last year, we also used extra beet greens to make a green beet pesto. (Beet Tops Pesto – Girl Gone Gourmet).
Have you tried roasted beets? Roasting your vegetables gives the vegetable a new flavour and helps change your side dishes. You can find a recipe for roasted beets here (Perfect Roasted Beets Recipe – Cookie and Kate). Serve roasted beets hot as a side dish, toss beets with some herbs (such as dill, basil, chives or thyme) when they come out of the oven or add hot or cold into a green salad. We try to roast extra beets that we freeze to eat during winter. My favourite beet salad is a “Warm Beet Salad.” This salad only has a few ingredients and is quick and easy to put together. Feel free to change up the nuts according to the kind you have on hand.
A tip for preparing beets is that you don’t need to peel them; you can eat the beet skin! This makes it a lot faster to prepare beets; make sure you scrub the beet skin clean first. Another tip is that you may want to wear rubber gloves when working with red beets, as the colour from the beet will temporarily turn your skin pink!