Beet salads have taken over restaurant menus nationwide and for good reason: They’re sweet yet earthy, roast up nice and tender, and can be pickled or grilled for more texture. Best of all, beets are nutritional powerhouses. They’re an excellent source of folate, rich in fiber, potassium and vitamin C, and a good source of iron. Their pigments, called betalains, have also been shown to have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Using disposable gloves makes getting your hands clean much, much easier after working with red or pink beets (it’s cleaning under the nails that is a real pain). Lining pans with foil helps, too. Just think of protecting any surface the cooked beet, especially once it’s peeled, will touch.
Second, know that once beets are cooked, their skins slip off easily. So, consider scrubbing them clean, cooking them, then peeling them for less work.
Still not convinced? Luckily, pre-cooked beets are readily available. Canned and jarred beets oftentimes contain added sugar, salt and preservatives. Instead look for “steamed and peeled” beets in the refrigerated aisle of the produce section. They’re a healthier, no-fuss option since they’re vacuumed-packed and contain only one ingredient: beets!
WHAT TO DO WITH COOKED BEETS
Once you have cooked beets on hand, there’s a thousand things to do with them. A few ideas to get you started:
- Drizzle with vinaigrette and a few dollops of fresh goat cheese or feta cheese for a super-simple salad.
- Grate a beet and cook as hash browns. Top this “flannel hash” with a fried or poached egg for a tasty breakfast.
- Slice, chop or grate along with a bit of onion, heat up in some chicken broth and you have the world’s easiest beet soup (aka borscht). A sprinkle of dill and a spoonful of yogurt makes a nice addition.
- Add chopped beets to a tossed green salad.
- Add a slice or two of beet to a burger instead of tomato — it’s how they roll in Australia (often using pickled beet, but the key is the bright sweetness).
- Use the staining ability of beets to brilliant effect by grating a beet, stirring in some yogurt, adding a clove of minced garlic and seasoning with salt and pepper. Is it a salad? Is it a dip? How you use this shocking pink, delicious concoction is entirely up to you.
- Use them to top a pizza.
However you use them, know you’re adding nutrients, flavor and beautiful color to your table. That’s what healthy eating it all about.