Produce Pick of the Month: Beets

Let’s explore what makes the beet unbeatable.

A beet can do a whole lot more than just stain your hands red. It’s a versatile root vegetable whose greens can also be used in dishes, giving you more bang for your vegetable buck. Let’s explore what makes the beet unbeatable.

Nutrients:

One cup of cooked beets has 75 calories, 3.5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein, and is an excellent source of folate and manganese. It is also a good source of vitamin C, magnesium and potassium.

One cup of cooked beet greens is a 39-calorie nutritional powerhouse providing 4 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and your entire day’s needs of vitamin A and K, in addition to being an excellent source of vitamin C, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium and manganese. It’s also a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin E, thiamin, calcium, iron, sodium and copper.

Textures and Flavors:

Beets are generally peeled before preparing. Raw beets can provide a slightly sweet flavor and crunchy texture similar to carrots when thinly sliced or shredded. Roasting or cooking beets will bring out more of that natural sweetness along with a rich, smooth texture similar to that of other root vegetables. If thinly sliced, beets can be baked to become crispy like chips. And of course, there’s the classic beet soup, borscht.

Beet greens are slightly bitter, similar to Swiss chard, when prepared raw as part of a salad with a nice slightly sweet or spicy vinaigrette. They can also be cooked like spinach as a part of a side dish or stew.  You can also use them as a topping on pizza or mix them into pasta.

Food Pairings:

Beets and beet greens go well with: moderately strong cheese (goat, feta, Parmesan), citrus (lemon, orange), apple, pear, fennel, figs, bacon, tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts), quinoa, lentils, other root veggies (e.g., carrots, parsnips, winter squashes), garlic, rosemary, honey and crushed red pepper.

Recipes:

Produce Picks is a new series reviewing what makes vegetables and fruits great — their nutrients, textures, food pairings and recipes to get you cooking with them in the kitchen.

Through his book and blog, Death of the Diet , Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS, empowers people to live the life they want by integrating healthy eating and physical activity habits into their daily routines. You can follow him on Twitter @JMachowskyRDFit .

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