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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,

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30 Responses to “beet greens & brown rice”

  1. CoconutGal says:

    Yum Yum Yum. I can think of another good use for beets and their greens– veg juice! So good with a little ginger and cucumber.
    This is a little off topic– I am curious what brand/kind of coconut milk do you use in your coffee? I love coconut milk but am a little concerned (aka paranoid) with the BPA lining of most canned goods. I still use canned coconut milk, but just wanted to see if you had a fav source.
    Also, I wanted to put in a request for a post on starchy veggies, per my question a while back about the butternut or winter squash compared to a sweet potato 🙂

    Happy Monday!

  2. I am in love with beets, cooked any way or eaten raw. I need beets!!

    My fav way to cook them is to slice them thin and toss in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for about 45 mins. Steamed beets and kale are another favorite too!

    I like how you have shared info on storing and using the greens! I am not good about always using the greens, but sauteed with rice sounds good.

    -Ali 🙂

  3. greedydave says:

    With you all the way on this one, Melissa.

    I absolutely adore veggies with punch and beets are the punchiest of the bunch. It’s quite unusual to see any root veg still attached to its leaves over here, unfortunately. Leaves are the first giveaway of a vegetable’s freshness so our supermarkets lop them off at source in the hope that we won’t notice. It’s so infuriating when it comes to beets, celery, fennel, etc when you want them as much as the roots. The irony being that you have to buy beet leaves in nitrogen-charged plastic bags of mixed salad leaves if you want them at all. Organic boxes here I come.

    Okay, the UK rant is over. Melissa I love the look of your beet greens & brown rice and I’m definitely shaving some raw into my next salad. Washed down with a glass of Coco’s beet, ginger and cucumber juice and you’re not going to get a happier boy either side of the Atlantic. I’ll be the guy with the purple mustache. 🙂


  4. Liz says:

    Oooh. I adore beets as well, and just used them in my most recent recipe, but you have inspired me to no longer peel my beets! I just assumed it needed to be done since that’s always how my mother did it. Well now I’m going to get those extra nutrients.

    Great recipe and info Melissa!

  5. Sharon says:

    i love beets as well. i actually used to throw the greens out!(GASP), but not anymore!

    as for peeling the beets, sometimes they get really rooty and dirty…so i tend to peel them.but i might try not to anymore!

    i buy organic golden beets as well if they are offered…they are just as good as the red ones.

  6. I’ve never had beets. I know. Sad. I’ll start with the beet greens I think.

    BTW, I am in serious love with your dish. Eating off of that would make any meal special. 🙂


  7. Melissa says:


    I totally agree and I juice beets on occasion as well. I use a beet, part of an apple, a carrot, ginger and whatever else I scrounge up. Notice I like my sweets, but in the natural form. I’ve never added the greens to the juice. Good idea!

    Coconut milk — I normally use the unsweetened Native Forest Organic version. Sometimes the “Classic” one, sometimes the “Light” one. The classic version is full-fat, but sometimes it’s a little rich for me. It’s way higher in saturated fat, which doesn’t freak me out, but that also makes the calorie content way higher. I go back and forth between the two and sometimes even mix them or add a little water to the full-fat version. I’m not that worried about the can, but I’m not crazy about the guar gum in it. It’s not a big deal, but I’d like one without that. Even if they don’t say it on the label, most companies use some sort of gum in their product (very little though). I actually think the coconut milk in the packages (not cans) is better, but I can’t find any in my area and it gets too expensive to order it. Once I open a can of it, I immediately store it in a glass jar.

    Oh — thanks for reminding me about the starchy vegetable post. I get “off task” very easily, so I’ll stick a post-it note on my desk to remind me. (You can’t believe all the post-it notes I have all over my office.)


  8. Melissa says:


    I don’t know exactly why, but I’ve been crazy about beets my whole life. I love the greens — they’re mild and a “perfect” consistency to me. I like collard greens and kale, but beet greens are my favorite. They aren’t as “thick” as some of the other greens. They don’t have that “rubber glove” texture.


  9. Melissa says:

    GDave (AKA Mr. Purple Mustache),

    What a shame that your markets get rid of the greens. It’s sad to think of all that goodness going in the garbage. Ugh, that’s awful. But you’re right, it’s evidence of freshness and the greens don’t last nearly as long as the roots.

    One of the produce guys at my local market told me not to eat beet root raw, that it was bad for you (he didn’t know “why” though). Hmmm? I’ve been doing it forever with no ill effects. Seriously, forever.


  10. Melissa says:


    Hopefully you did a post on your “most recent recipe” — I’ll be over to your blog shortly to steal it. Does Henry like beets? Ohhh, that would be a mess if he got ahold of a whole beet and chewed it up. Yikes, not in the house!

  11. Melissa says:

    Sharon — yes, I forgot to mention all the colors they come in. My favorite are the red ones, but golden and orange are good too. Mixing them raw (cut in matchsticks) in a salad is gorgeous. I know what you mean about the skins being a little funky at times — I peel off some off the icky parts as well. But if they’re really fresh (like in my CSA box), I just scrub away and never worry about peeling. It’s less messy that way, too.

  12. Melissa says:


    Don’t make me fly out to VA and force you to start eating beets!

    As for the dish, it’s a cross between a bowl and a plate. A shallow bowl — my daughter gave me that for my birthday and I use it all the time. I love eating out of one dish and that one is perfect! Yes, it’s really pretty and you’ll see it in a lot of my photos.


  13. Excellent idea to not peel the beets, I will remember next time.

  14. Cid says:


    All my homemade fruit and veg juices contain beetroot and subsequently always turn out the same colour no matter what. I bought some today intending to energize (I sound like Captain Kirk 🙂 ) with one of my familiar juice combinations… sad to say it’s been a long day and I haven’t quite made it yet, but my body is telling me I should.

    Love that blue bowl by the way.


  15. LOL … come on–that would be fun! 😉

    Your daughter has great taste. I like eating from special dishes like that, too.


  16. Melissa says:

    Alisa — I don’t peel carrots either. If your produce is fresh, organic and you scrub it well, there’s usually no need to peel it.

  17. Melissa says:

    Thanks, Cid. I love that bowl as well and have a tendency to use it almost daily. It’s a shallow bowl, but fairly large, so you can put a whole meal in it — even with different ingredients. Plus, I like unusual dishes and feel that part of the enjoyment of a meal is what it is served in.

    I like your intention to energize! Well put, Starfleet Girl!


  18. Melissa says:


    Get some beets from your farmer friends and add them to your “healing” protocol. They are absolute gems. You know who to call for ways to use them.

    This might sound kind of icky-poo, but being a nutritionist specializing in digestive issues, poop talk is important. Beets are a great way for people to figure out how long their food journey is (it’s called “transit” time).

    Oops, sorry — that might have been TMI.


  19. Anne says:

    I must add to GDave’s rant about the leaves/stems being cut off in the UK. We really have no idea how old this stuff is.
    And as to these horrible red little sticks inside the mixed salad bags, yuk.
    We are surrounded by aggricultural land here and we should have the finest farmers’ markets in the country.
    Melissa, it does matter where you live and the chances you have of quality life and food. Thank you for another informative post.

  20. Melissa says:


    That’s too bad because about your missing beet greens. Regardless of what the plant is, if it’s fresh, most of the time you can use the whole plant. I even use those thick kale stalks and stems. I cut them up in little chunks, sauté them and add them to salads or rice (like you would celery).

    You’re right about quality of life, food, etc. and where you are lucky enough to live. I feel blessed having my CSA (community supported agriculture) farmers so close. Not much growing going on around here in the winter though!

    Thanks for your comment, Anne. I always enjoy your perspective.

  21. CoconutGal says:

    That’s the same coconut milk I use 🙂 Good idea about transferring it into a glass jar. I’m glad you don’t worry about it much, I need to remember that everything I eat will never be 100% safe and that is OK!

    Looking forward the starchy veggie post, and trust me, I am a post-it bandit as well!! The only problem is having so many then you just look past them because they become part of the room!
    Thanks 🙂

  22. Anne says:

    Melissa, Melissa – over here….
    I am soooo exited!
    I went shopping on our market this morning and browsing my favourite vegetable stall, I spotted…..yes….
    I could not believe my eyes and if it had not been for your post, I would not have eaten those lovely greens with my lunch today.
    Melissa, they are superb. I just lightly steemed them and I I have cooked the roots for a salad tonight.
    I also congratulated the stall holder for bringing such lovely fresh produce.
    Thank you very much, Melissa and tell GDave to keep looking out for some.
    Smiling Anne

  23. Melissa says:

    Coco — yea, great minds think alike. Well, something like that. And you know, some things you eat will be 100% safe and some will be iffy. Just like the rest of life.

    I’ll do the starchy post — I will, I promise. But I totally know what you mean about the invisible post-it notes. I have a problem with those. Looking around my work area right now reveals a real “issue” — yikes, I need a 12-step program!

  24. Melissa says:


    Hooray! I am SO thrilled you found beet greens. Aren’t they delightful?! I even made a pizza one time with beet greens. It was more like an artisan-type flatbread with a garlic and butter “sauce” topped with chopped beet greens and fresh mozzarella cheese. Hmmm? Maybe I’ll continue with this beet theme and figure out my recipe for that. Good idea!

    Smiling back Melissa

  25. […] beet greens & brown rice SUPER FOODS  […]

  26. Carol says:

    This is my first time responding to your recipes, but have tried many with great success. Love the beet ideas. I bake scrubbed beets and dice or grate them. Squeeze a lemon, dollop of agave or honey, dried thyme and pinch of salt. Let the beets marinate for at least 1 hour and serve. What a lovely salad served on a bed of lettuce or just alone in a dish. I will also try the beet greens w/brown rice. Sounds yummy.
    Carol from NJ

  27. Denice says:

    I am so excited! Our first little backyard crop of beets are poking their heads through the soil. I have been dreaming of doing something healthy with them (anything besides pickling) and your site was my dream come true! I can hardly wait for them to grow! Thank you for the wealth of info. I just bookmarked this as one of my new favorites! Just for your info, I found you through Pioneer Woman.

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Denice! I love beets and eat them almost every day. I have a bunch of beet recipes including beet ice cream. =) You found me via Pioneer Woman? Hmmm? Wonder how that happened — although I love her sense of humor and have her cookbook. I’m just not much of a meat and potatoes gal. =) Thanks for your comment and welcome!
      Peace, love and beet greens!

  28. UmmBinat says:

    Yummy! I should have made this with brown rice but I haven’t converted my husband to it so I used white basmati and served with bone in lamb and organic unhomoginised yogurt sauce.

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