If I had to pick my favorite vegetable, it would probably be beets. Roots, stalks and leaves — I love every part of the plant. The vibrant colors just add to their charm. For detailed information about the health benefits and some off-beat bathroom science about beets, check this past post I did on the subject.
This may sound a bit obsessive, but I eat fresh beets (never canned) in one form or another almost every day. I’m not sure which part I’d call my favorite — the root or leaves, as both are delightful for different reasons. If you’re tossing your beet greens in the compost pile, or (don’t even tell me) the trash, you can stop doing that right now. Beet greens are mild, tasty and full of healthy goodness. They can be used in the same way you’d use kale or spinach, lightly sautéed (my favorite) or steamed quickly.
I don’t peel beets, as the skin contains fiber and trace minerals and protects other beneficial nutrients from seeping out. Plus, there’s less mess from the color “bleeding” when you keep the skin intact. To store, cut off the stems and leaves about an inch or so above the root. Store greens in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days. The greens don’t last long, so use them quickly. The roots store well on their own (in the refrigerator) for much longer periods.
Raw beet root
Scrub beet roots and grate, shred, or use a potato peeler to add to salads. Cut in matchstick strips and mix with jicama, pear, apple and/or carrots for a wonderful crunchy raw salad.
Cooked beet root
Beet roots can be roasted, steamed or sautéed. Roasting beets brings out the sweet earthiness; serve warm, or cool and save for adding to salads later. To roast — cut the stems and greens off about an inch from the root. Scrub roots, pat dry and toss with a small amount of oil. Place in a baking dish, add an inch or so of water, cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes depending on size.
Sautéed beet greens and brown rice
Wash beet greens, pat dry. Chop stems into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Coarsely chop greens. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (or olive oil) in medium-sized skillet over low/medium heat. Add 1/4 cup diced onions and beet stems, stirring occasionally for about 5-8 minutes. Add 2 finely minced garlic cloves and continue stirring until lightly browned. Add a splash of broth (vegetable or chicken), the beet greens and a cup or so of cooked brown rice, stir gently and sauté until leaves are tender and rice is heated thoroughly. Add broth as needed to maintain moisture. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Skip the rice if you just want sautéed greens.
Your beet-nik nutritionist,