Rich in calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorous and several other trace minerals, beets have many benefits that, well, simply can’t be beat. If the delicious, nutritious, crimson-colored root veggie isn’t on your radar this fall, it’s time to take notice!
How to select and store beets
Not sure what makes one beet better than the next? Look for small or medium-sized veggies that have smooth skin, firm roots and a deep, rich, reddish-purple color. Smaller, younger beets tend to be the most tender than their larger, older counterparts.
Avoid beets with bruises, spots or soft areas, which typically signify spoilage. And forget about those that appear flabby or shriveled: both signs that the roots are old, fibrous and tough. Yuck!
Although leaf quality doesn’t necessarily reflect the condition of the beet, always choose beets with fresh, green leaves if you plan to eat those as well (yes, the entire plant is edible!).
Experts recommend washing beets right before use. To store them, place them in an airtight plastic bag and refrigerate them for up to three weeks.
Preparing and enjoying beets
Beets belong to the chenopod family, along with spinach, chard and quinoa. Believe it or not, they are extremely versatile veggies. Following are 10 traditional and creative ways to enjoy beats this autumn and beyond.
1. Bake them. Remove leaves, scrub the beets, wrap in aluminum foil and pop them into a 400-degree F oven for 45 to 90 minutes, depending on quantity.
2. Grill them. Rid the root veggie of leaves (are you noticing a theme here?) and then wash and skewer the beets. Throw them on the grill and voila, hearty beet-kabobs!
3. Toss them in salads. Hang on to those beet leaves because you’re going to need them! They make a delicious, nutritious addition to your favorite salad recipes.
4. Enjoy them in soup. Clean and chop the beets into small pieces and add them (along with their leaves!) into homemade minestrone or vegetable soup. Or, prepare a bowl of borsht, a classic and popular Russian beet soup.
5. Serve them in stir fry. Enhance your favorite meat-based or vegetable stir fry recipes with sliced beets. They complement any flavor!
6. Pickle them. Move over, cucumbers! Sweet, tangy pickled beets can be enjoyed straight from the jar or added to a colorful pasta salad, boiled with salt and peppe
7. Drink them. Looking for a way to increase your daily veggie intake? Beet juice is a smart solution, and the sweet, earthy flavor is a definite palate pleaser! You can even toss beets in a blender with strawberries, cacao and Vega One Chocolate to make a rich, red velvet smoothie.
8. Crunch them. A wonderful alternative to traditional potato chips, beet chips make a crisp, colorful and satisfying snack. If you can’t find a store-bought brand you love, try making your own batch of oven-baked rainbow beet chips.
9. Use them to supplement. A healthful addition to most diets, beet supplements are available in a variety of forms, including capsules, beet juice and beet powder.
10. Food coloring. Because of their vibrant shade, beets are the perfect choice for all-natural food coloring. Use it to decorate cookies, cupcakes, cakes and more without having to worry about harmful, artificial ingredients.