Meet Your Ingredients: Beets

Meet Your Ingredients: Beets

When prepared just right, beets can add a pop of flavor, color and nutrition to a dish. Find out all about the nutrition benefits of beets as well as tips on buying, storing and cooking with them.

The Basics

Technically called beetroots, beets are a popular root vegetable found in numerous world cuisines.  

And while you may have horrible childhood memories of canned beets, fresh ones can be wonderfully sweet.

One of my favorite aspects of beets is that they come in a variety of colors, making it easy to add color to salads and grain bowls.

Nutrition Overview

1 cup of raw, sliced beets provides 58 calories, >0.5 grams of fat, 13 grams of carb, 3.8 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 2.2 grams of protein.

While beets are a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron, it’s standouts are folate (37% of the DV) and manganese (22% of the DV).

Beets also contain nitrates, which have been shown to help lower blood pressure and may help with athletic performance by improving oxygen use and time to exhaustion.

How to select

In general, small to medium-sized beets will be juicier and sweeter than larger varieties. However there’s more to buying beets than just the size.

When picked up, beets should feel heavy for their size and firm, without any nicks or cuts. If the stems are still attached, look for firm stems and healthy-looking leaves that aren’t wilted.

Red vs. Golden Beets

Beets come in a variety of sizes and colors, including red, white, golden, and striped.

While red beets are often easier to find, I prefer golden one’s as they tend to be sweeter and a little less earthy than red varieties.

Sliced golden beet

As far as nutrition goes, red and golden beets do contain different types and amounts of various antioxidants; however they are both rich sources of these plant nutrients.

Cooking-wise, they can be used interchangeably. Just note that the beet flavor may be slightly stronger with red beets.

How to store

The first thing to do when you bring your beets home is to cut off the stems, leaving just 1 inch attached. This is important as if left fully attached, the stems will continue pulling moisture away from the inside of the beets, drying them out.

Beets can be kept in a plastic bag in your fridge for up to 3 weeks; however the greens should be eaten within 1-2 days as they will wilt quickly (yes, you can eat the leaves!).

How to Use in Cooking/Baking

There is one essential tip when cooking with beets: wear gloves.

Meet Your Ingredients: Beets

Beets, especially red beets, stain everything. I also avoid using wooden cutting boards when working with these root vegetables as plastic boards are much easier to get stains out of.

Most importantly: if you have marble countertops or a marble cutting board, make sure to put down a few layers of paper towels or even parchment paper as it’s nearly impossible to get a beet stain out of marble.

Now onto the food! As beets have an earthy flavor, they pair best with bright flavors, such as citrus, goat or feta cheese, apples, dijon mustard, or balsamic vinegar.

Roasted beets can be added to a variety of dishes, such as sandwiches and wraps, salads, grain bowls, and pasta dishes.

Looking to add some pop to your appetizer plate? Puree roasted or boiled beets and add them to hummus or pesto.  

Adding beet sauce to crust

Raw beets can be shredded (I like using a shredder attachment on my food processor rather than grating them by hand) and added to veggie burger patties, slaws, or salads.

Pickled beets make for a perfect topping to sandwiches and burgers; while beet juice is a natural way to add coloring to baked goods, such as red velvet cake.  

Recipes

Two of my favorite recipes on THT feature this vibrant root vegetable:

Love beets as much as I do? Share your favorite recipes by tagging @TheHealthyToast_RD on Instagram!

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About
About Kelli McGrane Headshot

I’m Kelli MS, RD, and my mission is to prove that eating healthier doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. Follow along to learn more about food and cooking, with an emphasis on breakfast and sweet treats!

About Kelli McGrane Headshot

Welcome to The Healthy Toast!

Hi, I’m Kelli McGrane MS, RD! My mission is to show you that eating healthier doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. I believe getting to know your food is the first step to a healthy relationship with it. Follow along in my journey to learn all I can about ingredients and cooking with an emphasis on breakfast and sweet treats!

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