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Root for Healthy Eating - Beets

Aug 17, 2007
Fresh beets, ruby-red, crunchy, and sweet, are an appetizing addition to your table. If you've been exposed only to canned beets, our fresh beet recipes will be a revelation. And since beets offer a variety of health-improving benefits, we hope you'll find one of our recipes to be a great way to reintroduce yourself to them.

Beet roots are especially rich in folate, which is essential for normal tissue growth. In fact, during pregnancy, a woman must get enough folate to protect her baby against defects of the spinal column. And betacyanin is the pigment that gives beet roots their vibrant color. Several studies have shown that this antioxidant is an impressive cancer-fighter.

Beet greens are an important edible part of the beet because they are a rich source of calcium and potassium. Calcium is a necessary mineral for the health of teeth and bones, and not getting enough can be harmful to health. In fact, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, those who get less than 500 milligrams a day of calcium are about twice as likely to have periodontal disease. And, as a part of a reduced-calorie eating plan, calcium has been recently shown to help control abdominal fat, which has been linked with higher risks for cardiovascular disease.

Potassium, also abundant in beets, is significant, too. Potassium is an electrolyte. Electrolytes have several functions, but an important one is regulating the metabolism. Although most Americans get more than enough sodium, which is another electrolyte, we may not be getting all the potassium we need to keep our electrolytes in balance, so eating beets can be a good strategy.


Beet juice, beautiful as it is, will stain almost anything it comes in contact with. As you prepare these recipes, you might want to use an apron, disposable gloves, and cutting board that can easily be washed. If you get beet juice on your hands, try washing them with lemon juice to remove the color.

Roasted Beets

Small- to medium-sized beets
Canola oil
Dried thyme
Dried oregano

Cut off the root and stem ends of the beets, and then slice. Toss slices in enough canola oil to coat, and sprinkle with the dried herbs. Spread slices out on a roasting pan. Roast at 400 degrees for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

Honey Mustard Beets

1 lb. beets
1 Tb. lemon juice
2 Tbs. butter
1-1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of powdered cloves
2 Tbs. orange juice
2 Tbs. honey
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Gently wash beets just before cooking. Trim leaves from beets, leaving about 1 inch of stem. Put beets in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add lemon juice and a dash of salt, and then bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes until easily pierced with a knife. Drain, and then add cold water to the pan. While they're warm but not hot, peel the beets (the skins should come off easily). Move on to the next step, or store the beets in the refrigerator until you're ready.

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add mustard, cinnamon, cloves, and juice and stir for several minutes until dissolved. Add honey, salt, and pepper.

Cut the cooked beets into cubes, and add to the sauce. Toss gently, and stir occasionally until beets are heated through.

Tofu with Beet Greens

1 cup baked tofu cubes
1 lb. beet greens
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, mashed
Soy sauce to taste

Wash the beet greens and drain. Then remove the stems and shred the leaves.

Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the tofu and cook until the tofu just begins to turn brown.

Add the beet greens and stir fry about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute, or until the greens are cooked. Add soy sauce and cook for another minute.

Tip: If you don't enjoy tofu, substitute cooked, cubed potatoes, and use salt instead of soy sauce.

Beet Salad with Cheese and Pine Nuts

5 medium beets
1 Tb. lemon juice
1 bunch beet greens, leaves not longer than about 8"
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 cups arugala
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup soft goat cheese or feta cheese

Gently wash beets just before cooking. Trim leaves from beets, leaving about 1 inch of stem. Put beets in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add lemon juice, and then bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. Drain, and add cold water to the pan. While they're warm but not hot, peel the beets (the skins should come off easily). Allow beets to cool completely, and then cut into cubes.

Wash beet greens, remove stems, and chop leaves into bite sized pieces. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Drop greens into boiling water, and cook for 30 seconds. Remove greens, place in colander, run cold water over them to stop the cooking process, and allow to drain. When drained, gently squeeze excess water from greens.

To a small jar, add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and pepper, and shake well to mix. Put beet cubes, beet greens, toasted pine nuts, arugala, and scallions into a salad bowl. Pour over the oil and vinegar mixture. Slice cheese thinly, and scatter on top of salad.
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