Although beets are available all year round, October is a good time to easily get the tender young beets, which most people find the tastiest. Beets have kind of a bum rap, but there are so many ways to use this versatile vegetable, you will no doubt find many ways to include this delicious, nutritious root into your diet.
Beets come in several varieties, from the common deep red, to gold, white, and even a special variety called chioggia, that has alternating red and white rings when cut horizontally. Beet sizes range from marble-sized to baseball-sized, and can even come in cylinder shapes. Baby beets are more tender than regular beets and require less cooking time.Beets are an excellent source of folate and a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. They also have strong cancer-fighting and heart-healthy properties that make them an excellent addition to any diet.
DID YOU KNOW:
-Beets have been cultivated since prehistoric times in the Mediterranean, and were originally grown just for their leaves! It wasn’t until the early Romans realized the sweet flavour of the root that the whole beet was finally used.
-Beet fibre has been shown to be a strong colon cancer fighter, and its juice has shown promise in treating stomach cancer!
HOW TO CHOOSE AND STORE BEETS:
If the greens are still attached, they should be bright and fresh. Otherwise, the beets should be heavy and firm, not wrinkled or sprouting. They can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for about a week.
Cut off most of the green tops, leaving an inch of the stem to prevent bleeding and flavor loss. Scrub the beets, wrap them in foil, and bake at about 350º F for about an hour or until tender. Let them cool slightly before eating. You can peel the skins off if you like. Steam baby beets whole for about 30 minutes. Beet greens can be cooked just like spinach (just make sure you wash them really well, as they tend to retain a lot of grit). They can be steamed or sauteed with onions and garlic in a little olive oil.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION FOR ONE CUP OF RAW BEETS:
Total Fat: 0.23g
Vitamin C: 6.6mg
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
3/4 tbsp. grated ginger (or more, as desired)
Scrub the beets, and cover loosely with tin foil. Place on a baking sheet, and drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Bake in pre-heated 425 degree oven until tender, which should take about an hour. Then cool them in the fridge, peel, and quarter them. Using a zester, remove 1/4 of the rind, and set aside. Cut half the orange in segments, and then cut them crosswise. Place in a bowl and add the juice from the other half of the orange. Add vinegar and ginger and whisk in 2 tbsps olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste. Add the beets and zest to the vinegar mixture. Place in the fridge for at least half an hour for the flavors to mingle.
Preparation time: 1 hour
Indian-Style Beet Greens with Ginger and Green Chilis
1 fresh hot green chili (jalapeños work well), cut into thin slivers. If you don’t like spicy food, remove the seeds from the chili or use bell pepper instead.
3 slices of fresh ginger, cut into thin slivers
1 pound washed beet greens, stemmed and cut into thin slivers
Salt and pepper to taste
Spray a large skillet with spray oil; add a few drops of sesame oil or peanut oil for flavour if desired. Heat oil over medium high heat and add chili and ginger. Stir a few moments then add the beet greens. Stir a few times and cover pan. Turn the heat to low and cook until the leaves are wilted. Add salt and pepper and stir a few times. Add 4 T water, bring to a simmer and cover. Cook on low heat for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally until greens are tender.