Quinoa is an ancient grain that’s been growing in popularity the last few years, but have you tried it? Dietitian Anessa details why you should add this pantry essential to your grocery list.
Healthy Food Spotlight: Beets
You may have grown up hating beets, only to find out that if they are prepared and cooked properly, they are absolutely delicious! Beets offer as many health benefits as they do tasty combinations.
What Are Beets?
Beets are a root vegetable, and their leafy greens can also be eaten. They are believed to have originated along the Mediterranean Coast, and are popular in the heart-healthy Mediterranean Diet.
Beets have a deep, complex flavor that is rich and earthy. They are naturally sweet, so roasting is a delicious way to try them as it caramelizes the beet’s natural sugar content and brings out the sweetness. And of course, they have a vibrant color! They contain a pigment called betalains, and it is often used for dyes.1 Because of their vibrant color and rich flavor, beets are also a great way to bring dishes and recipes to life.
Picking, Storing, and Preparing Beets
- Choose fresh beets that are medium-sized, smooth-skinned, and deep in color.
- Store fresh beets in the refrigerator; they should last 4–5 days
- To prepare, simply rinse beets under cool water. When slicing beets, remember the pigment can stain your skin. Rub lemon juice on your hands to remove the stain!
Nutritional Content of Beets
Beets are low in calories and a great source of many nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C.2 They are also packed with antioxidants (evident by their deep, intense color), which are beneficial nutrients that neutralize harmful free radicals in the body.3 Beets are also being studied for their possible positive effects on blood pressure, inflammation, and digestive health.4
In a 100-gram serving of beets (about 3.5 ounces), you will receive:2
- Calories: 43
- Protein: 1.6 grams
- Fat: less than 2 grams
- Fiber: 2.8 grams
- Vitamin C: 4.9 milligrams
How to Cook Beets
Beets can be roasted, baked, broiled, sautéed, steamed… and even eaten raw! If you’ve never had or enjoyed beets before, perhaps the best way to try them is to roast them. Roasting brings out the sweet flavor, gives the edges a good crunch, and makes them irresistible.
Here are some ways to include them in your meal rotation:
- Fresh beet smoothie: Get all of the benefits beets have to offer by tossing a couple of chunks of fresh beet into a smoothie. For starters, a delicious recipe is below!
- Roasted: Cut into 1-inch chunks, toss with olive oil, sea salt, and garlic, and roast at 400 degrees until fork-tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.
- Boiled: To boil beets, simply immerse them in boiling water for 30–40 minutes depending on their size. Remove, let cool slightly, and then gently peel off skin under cool running water. Slice beets and use or refrigerate. This is a great meal prep method!
- Borscht: A Russian soup with a deep, earthy flavor and a touch of tang, borscht is made with beets, onions, vinegar, and sour cream, with a variety of other vegetables or meats.
- Pickled: Combine vinegar, a little horseradish, and beets, and let that mixture boil, then place it in a jar in the refrigerator. Many people love pickled beets!
- Salad: Soft boiled beets are delicious when sliced onto a salad with balsamic drizzle and crunchy pistachios.
- Best pairing: The sugar content in beets gives them a great marriage with goat cheese. Drizzle with a little olive oil… It is a must-try!
- Beet greens: These can be eaten and enjoyed the same way as fresh spinach or kale, so don’t throw them out!
Sweet Beet Smoothie
Get all of the health benefits of beets in a smoothie that will boost your morning!
- 1 cup water or coconut water
- ¾ cup fresh pineapple chunks
- ½ cup bright red fresh beet (about ½ of a beet), chopped into medium chunks
- 1 small banana, frozen
- Handful fresh spinach leaves
- ½ teaspoon grated or sliced fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until completely smooth. Add ice and pulse. Add more coconut water if needed!
Drink immediately! If drinking it post-workout or for a meal, feel free to add a scoop of all-natural vanilla protein powder.
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Sahar Akhavan, Seid Mahdi Jafari, in Nanoencapsulation of Food Bioactive Ingredients, 2017
- Gandía-Herrero F, Escribano J, García-Carmona F. Biological Activities of Plant Pigments Betalains. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2016;56(6):937–945. doi:10.1080/10408398.2012.740103 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25118005/
- Clifford T, Howatson G, West DJ, Stevenson EJ. The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease. Nutrients. 2015;7(4):2801–2822. Published 2015 Apr 14. doi:10.3390/nu7042801 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425174/