This post is from contributing writer Mary Voogt of Just Take A Bite.
If I could have a separate garden devoted just to beets I think I would. Yes, I truly think beets are that amazing. Both for their nutritional profile and taste! Not to mention how much bang you get for your buck! Cheap nutrition is always a bonus and always a goal here at Kitchen Stewardship!
A couple weeks ago my husband came into the house with a bunch of beets from our garden. My first thought was, “Yes! Beets!” My second thought was, “Wait, beets? Already? How am I going to deal with all of them?”
This is the first year in our new farm house, and the garden is amazing. Our old house in town had sandy soil. We could successfully grow a few crops like beans and potatoes. But not much else.
Here we have clay and a well-fertilized yard. What a difference! I have loved watching the long row of beet greens rising, anxiously waiting for them to be ready. But when they finally were…I realized I wasn’t ready. At all.
After some brainstorming and searching I realized there are so many ways to use beets.
But more importantly there are so many reasons you should be eating beets!
Don’t forget that growing your own is the most cost-effective way to get beets too. And they are easy. Really easy. Put a seed in the ground and water. It costs maybe a dollar or two for a healthy dose beets. And you get a super nutritious food to last all year.
Why You Should Eat Beets
Like so many others living a real food lifestyle I have been trying to improve my health and my family’s health for many years now. And it seems that no matter how long I’m on this journey I keep learning new things.
I’ve always loved beets. Ever since I was a kid (even if they were store-bought canned beets back then). I’m odd like that. I LOVED vegetables growing up. Hot dogs? Meh. Sloppy joes? Yuck. Broccoli? More, please!
But it wasn’t until recently that I realized just how incredibly healthy beets are. And it wasn’t until really recently that I learned how awesome beet greens are! They have become a family favorite.
So just what does a beet have to offer?
The beet root itself can be a dark red or golden. We love both varieties (though we only grew red this year). The deep color alone tells you it’s chock full of nutrients.
Most importantly beets are great for detoxing your liver. A healthy liver equates to a healthy body. If your liver is proficient at removing toxins you will most likely feel good. Built up toxins in the body is often the root cause of so many illnesses.
So anything you can do to improve liver health will improve overall health. Beets help by thinning bile and allowing it to flow more freely.
Yes, that supplement is most likely made from beets. So if you want to save some money just start your meal with a couple pieces of roasted beet or beet juice.
According to Livestrong.com, “The American Liver Foundation indicates that keeping [your liver] strong and unpolluted can increase your energy level, boost your immune system and regulate your system’s natural metabolic process.
Plus, according to The New York Times, a healthy liver can even affect your mood, making you less agitated and more focused.”
In addition to being great for your liver a beet contains many vitamins and minerals such as
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
Don’t Forget the Greens! How to cook Beet Greens
I’ve always known beets were healthy and delicious. But it wasn’t until recently I realized the importance of eating the greens. It saddens me that I used to throw them away when I’d buy a bunch of beets at the store!
Free vitamins in the trash. These days I try to not let anything go to waste (these tips sure help!).
A couple years ago I did a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA). I was nursing my third child (who had tons of allergies) and feeling so run down from our limited diet. I knew I had to be lacking in a lot of things. One mineral that stood out on my results was potassium. It was so low.
But I couldn’t do much about it. I couldn’t take the necessary supplements or even eat many foods with potassium due to allergies. Over time I started to really feel the effects including heart palpitations.
As soon as my daughter weaned the first thing I did was start a potassium supplement (which finally put an end to the heart issues!) and research what foods are high in potassium.
Can you guess what tops the list?
Beet greens! Those and black-eyed peas.
I put these potassium powerhouses together in this super easy, superfood soup. I even make it in the Instant Pot. It takes about five minutes of hands-on time for a simple summer soup. Pair it with a big salad and you have an easy dinner that won’t heat the house. But it will certainly nourish your body.
All of my kids went crazy for this soup.
My two-year old kept singing, “This is so good, this is so good” over and over. My six-year old devoured his bowl in minutes and requested the leftovers the next day for lunch.
Even my husband loved it – and he is NOT a big fan of greens. I made a meatless version, though you could certainly mix in some leftover roasted chicken or beef.
Picky eater tip – if you grow it, they will eat it. My kids will eat just about anything that comes from our garden (and they love to spend time in the garden whenever they can too). Freshly picked beet greens are no exception!
- 1 cup water
- 3 cups chickenor turkey broth
- ¾ cup dry black-eyed peas, rinsed
- ½ cup carrots, diced
- (optional) 2 Tbsp. diced onion
- 1 tsp. unrefined sea salt
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. cumin
- (optional) ½ cup rice + 1 cup additional water or broth
- 1 cup frozen or fresh peas
- 2 cups packed beet greens, stems removed, roughly chopped
- (optional) ½ cup roasted chicken or beef
- Combine the water, broth, peas, carrots, salt, garlic, onion, basil and cumin (and rice + water if using) in the Instant Pot.
- Cover and cook 25 minutes on the bean setting.
- Use the natural release method.
- After opening the lid add the peas and beet greens (and chicken if using) and cook on sautee for 3 - 5 minutes, until greens are wilted.
- Serve immediately.
Aside from potassium beet greens are loaded with Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Plus plenty of other minerals like calcium and magnesium.
How do Beet Greens Stack Up?
Here is a side-by-side comparison of a few common greens. They each have their strengths. So it’s a good idea to rotate your greens. This is also really important for anyone with allergies. A rotation diet can make a huge difference in how long it takes to heal.
How to Use Beets
Are you convinced yet that beets should be a regular addition to your diet?
I hope so. To get you started here are twelve simple ways to add beets to your menu.
1. Oven Roasted Beets
This is our favorite way to eat beets. Cut off the stems, scrub the root and bake on a parchment lined tray at 400 degrees F for about 90 minutes. When they cool simply peel and slice. They are great plain with a bit of real salt.
2. Instant Pot Roasted Beets
Not a fan of turning the oven on just to roast beets? Especially in the summer? You can also cook your beets in the Instant Pot!
Put water in the bottom of the pot. Set the trivet inside. Place the washed beet root on the trivet. Cook on manual setting for about 20 minutes (this will vary a little depending on the size of your beets). Use the quick release method. Cool, peel and slice. Easy!
3. Mixed Roasted Vegetables
By far the easiest way to get my kids to eat vegetables is to roast them. Take any mix of veggies, drizzle with olive oil or avocado oil, sprinkle salt on top and roast at 375 degrees F for about an hour.
We often do cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots or purple cabbage. But beets make a great addition. Simply peel and cube the beet root and toss it with the other veggies you want to roast.
4. Sauteed Beet Greens
If there is one thing you take away from this post I hope it’s this – sauteed beet greens are amazing! They are at the top of our list with spinach as favorites. I like to cook them with lard (which is one of the best sources of Vitamin D!), bone broth and lots of real salt for extra nutrients and flavor.
This time of year lettuce is growing like crazy. We could eat salads with all the lettuce from our garden for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and still have plenty to spare)! But a good salad needs lots of toppings. Mine almost always includes roasted beets.
If you’re not in the mood for a lettuce salad simply top the roasted beets with sour cream and a little dill. An easy side dish in minutes.
The beet greens are a great addition to a salad mix too. Lettuce, spinach and beet greens is a delicious combination.
Beets and smoothies can be tricky (Katie has tried before without much luck). But it is possible. I go really light on the beets (like one or two chunks of roasted beets) and add a bunch of beet greens. You can use them raw or quickly steamed for a couple minutes.
This True Blue-Berry Smoothie is a great recipe to start with.
7. Beet Kvass
If you’re looking for a new way to add probiotics to your diet (and who isn’t?!) beet kvass is the way to go! It is a fermented drink made with beets. Sort of like sauerkraut juice.
It is amazing for liver cleansing and has even been shown to help cancer, digestive issues, fatigue and allergies. You just might find me in the kitchen making a big batch of beet kvass tomorrow…
8. Beet Kraut
Along the same line as beet kvass, you can make sauerkraut with beets. Simply use grated beets instead of cabbage. Or better yet, use them together! Purple beets and red cabbage fermented together would be an amazing addition to your meals to help aid digestion and liver function. I think that’s on my list too. I’m going to be busy!
9. Pickled Beets
My grandparents always grew tons of beets on their farm. Grandma canned pickled beets every summer to last the winter. My mom has fond memories of eating them. They are a great introduction to beets.
If you’re not totally sold on the taste of beets, pickling them is a great way to learn to like them. You can add cinnamon, cloves and sugar. Sounds like a great beet to me! I’m hoping to stock our pantry with pickled beets this year. One more way I can remember my grandma.
This is the recipe I’m trying this year.
10. Roasted Beet Stems
Earlier I mentioned that I don’t like to waste anything. I meant it. I use the beet root as a roasted vegetable or in kvass or kraut or pickled. Then I use the greens in salads or smoothies or eat them sauteed.
But what about the stem?
Turns out the stem is just as delicious as the rest of the beet! While the root is roasting toss the stems in with a little olive oil and real salt. They taste just like roasted asparagus! And any bits of green left on them get crispy and salty.
11. Beet Chips
You can turn your beets into crunchy, salty chips with this method. This is another great first step if your kids don’t like beets.
Don’t forget the greens can be turned into chips too. I hear a lot about kale chips. But beet greens work just as well.
12. Beet Green Powder
Although beet greens do cook down to practically nothing (and I have to fight my kids for them at lunch time), there may be times where you just can’t use up what you have. Or maybe you want to make them last longer.
This method of preserving your greens and turning them into a powder to add to smoothies, salads and soups is perfect! Then those green, leafy veggie haters won’t even know they are getting a load of potassium and other vitamins and minerals.
Ready, Set, Go!
Now it’s your turn to hit your local farmer’s market or maybe your own backyard and snag some amazing beets (with the greens!!). Pick your favorite preparation method and give them a try. Or double up with a roasted beet salad and my nourishing black-eyed pea and beet green soup.