Monday, July 25, 2011

Beet It!

As the temperature continues to rise and the humidity moistens the air- it becomes a challenge to stay outdoors, even in the pool or at the beach (in the ocean). It’s on these days that the thought of eating hot food makes me a little squeamish. Luckily, at the same time as the temperature heats up, those dark brown bulbs (AKA beets) are beginning to appear in the garden. Beneath fuchsia stems and green leaves, they are just waiting to be pulled from underneath the dirt.

Why Have You Done a Good Thing ?

Firstly, if you’re eating anything from your own garden or someone else’s (i.e. Farmer’s markets) you are always doing a good thing. Second, beets are delicious and currently having their seasonal time to shine. We have always said, the darker the fruit or vegetable, the more nutrient-rich. Beets get their deep coloring from a combination of color pigments, called betalains. As you may know, there are golden beets and traditional red beets; due to the different combinations of color pigments in each species. They're kind of like fraternal twins: from the same mom (nutritionally speaking) but different looking and slightly different "personalities"(the golden beets tend to be a bit sweeter).

Both are wonderful sources of:

  • Antioxidants- fighting cell damage in the body
  • Potassium- fighting high blood pressure (along with a low-salt diet) & controlling muscle contractions
  • Folic Acid- vital for healthy fetal development
  • Bang for your Bite! 1 cup of beets has only ~75 calories & 3.5g fiber (plus alittle protein kicker (~3 g)

Can't Beet These Ideas:

  1. Plain! Simply boil and peel (after cutting off the roots and stems). Throw them in a green salad or eat them whole as a snack.
  2. Make Your Own Baby Food: simply puree those boiled beets!
  3. Breakfast: Make a smoothie with mixed berries, beets, and a bit of all-natural fruit sorbet or yogurt
  4. Lunch: pair red and golden beets with some arugula, goat cheese, and apple or pear slices; sprinkle with nuts for a great salad.
  5. Dinner (side dish): make roasted mixed beets, with a little olive oil and salt, roast at 425 F for 20-25 minutes
  6. Dessert: Be creative! Pureed beets are sweet and thus can be substituted for oils and sugars in some baking recipes. We found a chocolate beet cake, developed by Straight from the Farm website; looks awesome!

Plus: Use beets as a natural food coloring! Next time you want pink frosting, just add a touch of beet puree and/or fresh beet juice.

Just be careful with all these beets around the kitchen and on your hands, they do stain a bit! But hey, nothing wrong with getting dirty in order to BEET IT!

FYI- If you have never tried beets before, be warned. Sometimes your pee (or poo) can turn reddish from the pigments in beets. Perfectly normal (healthy) and no need to be alarmed!!

--Samantha Jacobs, MS RD CDN

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