Why eat beets?
Now I truly understand that beets are not for everyone and there are many folks out there that have a great dislike for beets. A dislike which I think comes from their very intense earthy flavor. But beets are a nutrient dense food meaning that they provide your body with lots of nutrients for few calories. And I think there are ways to prepare them that tone down their flavor.
Basic Preparation: Roasting
This is the only method I EVER use to cook beets. Beets have a very earthy flavor to me, but they also have a lot of natural sugars and I find that roasting them brings out their natural sweetness which helps to tone down the earthy or “dirt” flavor beets can have.
It’s best to select beets that are similar in size so that when you cook them, they all are done about the same time. I usually cook 4-5 of them at a time and then use them as needed in recipes throughout the week. Plus, if you will be using them in smoothies it also works to freeze them and pull them out to add to your smoothie as needed.
If the beets have stems and leaves attached, cut them off close to the base of stem. You can actually sauté the stems and leaves in olive oil and garlic to eat for another meal so that you are using the entire fresh product and not wasting.
Scrub the skin of the beets well and then wrap in aluminum foil. Place the wrapped beets on a sheet pan or in a cooking dish. This step is important because they will cook out some of the juice and you don’t want to have to clean your oven after cooking them.
Place them in an oven at 400 degrees and cook for 45-60 minutes. I suggest checking them at 45 minutes by pricking them with a fork to see how tender they are. They are ready when the fork easily enters the beet with little resistance. If they aren’t quite ready, cook for another 15 minutes and check again. If your beets are a little on the larger side they may need longer than 60 minutes to cook.
Once they are ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool 25-30 minutes. Gently use a small knife or your fingers to peel off the skin. It can be kind of messy, so you can also use a paper towel to rub the skin off. If all of the skin doesn’t come off use the knife to trim it away.
Now the beets are ready to eat or to use in recipes you are preparing.
Ways to use beets
Beets can be eaten in many ways. Personally, I like them served chilled, so I use them mostly as a side or in a salad. They also work great in a smoothie and pair well with oranges and berries. In salads, I think they taste best when paired with salty and sweet ingredients, so I usually combine them with feta or goat cheese, berries, apples, oranges and because I like texture I always add a nut or seed and highly recommend pumpkin seeds or toasted walnuts.
One of my favorites are these Quick Refrigerator Pickled Beets. Once you have the beets roasted it takes less than five minutes to assemble this recipe, and then let them marinated for at least 24 hours, though I think 48 hours gives them a better flavor. I like to make these in any season and use them as a quick addition to a salad or just to eat as an afternoon snack. The apple cider vinegar is a nice complement to the flavor of the beet.
Also, since these beets are stored in the refrigerator there is no need for all the steps necessary in regular canning. Just make sure that the jar is clean and that you keep them in the refrigerator. The beets are ready to eat in as quick as 24 hours and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Quick Refrigerator Apple Cider Vinegar Pickled Beets
So quick to make and easy to store for use on a salad or as an afternoon snack.
- 3 whole beets, roasted
- 1 cup apple cider vineger
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- 2 ea bay leaf
- 2 clove garlic
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- Step 1 Place sliced beets, mustard seeds, clove of garlic and bay leaf into jar. Mix vinegar, water, and salt together. Pour liquid mixture over the top of the beets. Secure lid tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.
- Step 2 *IF YOU DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO MUSTARD SEEDS, YOU CAN SUBSTITUTE DRY MUSTARD BUT USE 1 1/2 TSP.
- Step 3 **Since these beets are stored in the refrigerator there is no need for all the steps necessary in regular canning. Just make sure that the jar is clean and that you keep them in the refrigerator. The beets are ready to eat in just 24 hours and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Smoothies are a great vehicle for foods that you want to eat for your health but maybe don’t really enjoy because all the other ingredients in the smoothie work to camouflage the flavor of a not so favorite food.
This is one of my favorite smoothie recipes. For starters, I love the beautiful pink-purple color that it has from the beets, it seems to shout out “DRINK ME”!!! Next, it has a really nice flavor and I think that the beets really get masked by the other ingredients. When I make this smoothie I like to use frozen berries and beets because the consistency is thicker and frozen like a milkshake. I think the sweetness is spot on but if you like things a little sweeter, you can add half a banana or a teaspoon of honey or agave.
Power Pink Beet and Berry Smoothie
A delicious and quick breakfast or snack with yummy beets.
- 1 cup strawberries, blueberries or mixed berries, fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup roasted beets, cubed
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp flax, ground
- 1 cup soy or almond
- Step 1 Place all ingredients into a blender and pulse/blend until smooth
Beets also work really well in a salad especially when paired with fruit, nuts and a salty cheese such as feta or goat cheese. In this salad I pair the beets with Granny Smith apples, which add a nice tart flavor and crunch to the salad, toasted walnuts as a source of healthy fat and feta cheese. A quick homemade Apple Cider Vinaigrette brings all the flavors together.
Roasted Beet, Apple and Feta Salad
A nice balance of sweet, crunchy and salty in this easy to make salad.
- 1 cup beets, diced
- 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup walnut pieces
- 3 cups mixed lettuce or salad greens
- 1/3 cup red onion, sliced
- 1 ea Granny Smith apple
- Step 1 Place walnut pieces in a skillet over medium high heat and lightly toast. Be sure to occasionally shake the skillet to move the walnuts around.
- Step 2 Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and drizzle with 1/4 cup of Apple Cider Vinaigrette. Toss until mixed and separate into two bowls.
Of course, you could use any dressing you wish here but my favorite is this Apple Cider Vinaigrette recipe. If you want to save some time, a store-bought Balsamic Vinaigrette will work great as well.
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
An easy to make homemade vinaigrette, great with any salad combination.
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 T Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 T shallots
- Step 1 Mix all ingredients together in a blend and blend until items are well-mixed. Use immediately or store in refrigerator until use.
If you aren’t a fan of beets, I hope you will try them out again and maybe try one of these recipes. The healthy benefits of eating them are just too good to pass up. Please let me know which recipes you try out and how they work out for you. I would love to hear from you about this blog post.