When it comes to nature’s humble superfoods, you simply can’t beat beets. These simple root vegetables—which take center stage in certain ethnic cuisines—may not get much attention here in the United States. But they deserve better. Much better.
Raw beets are humble little nutritional superstars lurking in the produce section of your grocery store, nestled among far less remarkable food items. They may be easy to overlook, but you’d do well to learn how to prepare beets so you can incorporate more of these remarkably healthful root vegetables into your family’s meals. Among other nutrients, beets are an excellent source of dietary nitrates. While that may not sound important, these natural nitrogen-based compounds are converted in the body into a substance that plays a crucial role in regulating blood pressure, than thus, is protecting your cardiovascular system.
Inexpensive, easy to prepare, and utterly delicious when cooked properly, beets do far more than bring ruby-red color to your dinner plate. In fact, if more people appreciated what an incredible nutritional bargain these little gems represent, they’d probably be selling them in limited supplies, in expensive, locked boxes.
Beet Juice Morning Elixir
Use a juice extractor machine to squeeze the fresh juice out of raw beets. Research shows that drinking just 8 oz. per day of fresh raw beet juice can significantly improve blood pressure among people struggling with abnormally high blood pressure. That’s because the nitrates in fresh beets are readily converted to nitric oxide in the body. Our bodies use nitric oxide to relax the blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
- 4-6 small to medium red beets, rinsed thoroughly and quartered
- 1-2 stalks organic celery
- 1 small organic Granny Smith apple, quartered and cored
- 1 shot Montmorency or tart cherry juice concentrate
Juice all vegetables and add cherry juice concentrate to juice. Stir and enjoy immediately, or refrigerate up to 8 hours. Serves 1-2. Yields approx. 8 fl oz.
Basic Boiled Beets
Easy, if not particularly quick. Other than roasting, this method is perhaps the most popular way to cook beets.
3-4 medium to large red beets, leaves cut off (save greens for sautéing later, if desired)
Rinse beets. In a large pot of water, bring beets to a boil. Boil vigorously for 40-45 minutes. Be sure beets are covered by water throughout. Test for doneness with a thin knife; knife should sink into flesh easily. Allow beets to cool, then slip off skins and discard. Trim tops and bottoms as needed. Cut into wedges or thin slices. Add fresh salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with fresh, chopped flat-leaf parsley, if desired. Sprinkle with a small amount of fresh orange or lemon juice, if desired. Serves 2-4.
As you can see, there is no reason to relegate beets solely to the dinner table. They deserve a place at the breakfast bar and the lunch counter, too. Expand your thinking to include beets in salads, sides, and even entrees.