Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beets & Beet Greens

Beets.  Oh glorious beets!  We are just hooked on beets and lately on beet greens.  I've been buying fresh beets from the market the last few years and I have discovered a new favorite food.  I was very skeptical at first to buy beets.  I had no idea what to do with fresh beets.  I  also had distinct memories of pickled beets that my mom used to can, which as a kid weren't my favorite food to say the least.  So all this to say, I decided a few years ago to buy some beets at our local farmers market, and wouldn't you know, I LOVED them.  My husband began to love them.  My kids absolutely love them.  They are a staple at our house these days.

Well this year we joined a CSA for the first time.  It has been so great and I've been learning so much about different foods and cooking and preping tips.  At this point the CSA has consisted of lots and lots of greens.  I've been playing around and getting creative with lots of different ways to use greens and how to incorporate all these greens into our food.  Not only are we getting all these greens from the CSA but we also have a little garden that is producing lots and lots of kale and swiss chard.  All of this at the same time that my oldest daughter has begun picking the "green" things out of her food.  Hmmmm, not great timing for her to all of sudden go on strike against the greens!  Another reminder of how much we learn to release control over everything as parents, right? 

I was at the market a couple weeks ago and got really excited to see some fresh beets.  I've known for the past couple years that the greens on top of the beets are edible and actually quite good for you, but I've just never gotten around to using them before they went bad.  The leaves go bad quickly so it's important to use them as soon as possible, and they taste so much better as well.  This year I made it a point to use those leaves.  And again, wouldn't you know, I LOVED them.  They are tender, milder tasting green.  They are a great substitute for any recipe calling for spinach, or just use them raw in a salad.  We've even thrown the beet greens into our green smoothies.  I'm hooked on these beet greens right now.  Surprisingly my 2 year old, who has been doing some protesting over greens, gobbles them up in a recipe.  The taste is so mild I think she forgets she's been protesting.

Beets are very high in nutrients.  They contain an excellent amount of folate, which is great for pregnant mamas or those hoping to become pregnant.  Beets are also a good source of iron, vitamins A and C, carotenes, and fiber.  Really they are just super fabulous for you and your kiddos.

Our favorite is roasted beets.  I just toss diced beets  in my oven or toaster oven with a little olive oil and cook for about 45-60 minutes at 350.  I don't usually don't even peel beets. I rinse them in water and will use my veggie scrub brush lightly on them.  I've recently read that there really is no reason to peel beets because there are some great trace minerals that lie just below the surface of the skin of the beet.  If you want to peel them another way to roast them is individually in foil with a bit of oil.  When they are done you can unwrap the foil and let them cool to the touch and the skins will easily slide off after the beet is roasted whole.

Roasted beets make an excellent finger food for babies.  Just make sure you cut them into sizes that are appropriate for you baby's age.  My girls both loved eating beets.  Have a bib handy because babies and beets will create quite a mess but all of those amazing nutrients they are getting is completely worth it.  Additional warning:  beets can create some coloring of the stool so don't be alarmed if you or your kiddo eats beets and the next day or two have some reddish color in the stool or even urine.  This is normal!

There are other great ways to use beets besides roasting them.  Raw beets grated into a salad are quite tasty.  Juicing beets gives fresh juice a vibrant color and flavor.  Perhaps try steaming beets.  There are even lots of recipes out there calling for beets in brownie and chocolate cake recipes.  (I have yet to try these because I don't do much baking but they always sound real interesting).

One of my favorite way to use beets raw is in this Firecracker Beet Slaw recipe from Vegetarian Times.

  • 3 raw beets, peeled and shredded (3 cups)
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, shredded (1 cup)
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs. agave nectar or 2 Tbs. sugar or 1 Tbs. Raw Local Honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce (this does have a strong flavor with a bit of kick to it so if your kiddos don't like much spice you may want to omit this or just add half the amount of chipotle to half the recipe and save the other have for the kiddos)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

1. Toss together beets, apple, and green onions in bowl. (I shred these in my food processor which make it super easy)

2. Blend vinegar, oil, mustard, agave nectar, garlic, chipotle chile, and salt in food processor until smooth. Add to beet mixture, and toss to coat.  Enjoy!

So if you find yourself at a local farmers market this week, maybe you pick up some beets and begin experimenting with the beets and the beet greens.  I hope you discover a nourishing new food that you enjoy!


  1. Beets + Quinoa + Garbanzo Beans + Corn + Scallions + Basil + Feta (if you are not vegan)= Fantastico

  2. That sounds delish! I'll have to try that! Thanks for sharing.