When it comes to health promoting functional foods, beets are the best. They are not only a great source of fiber, folate, vitamin C, and nitrates, but according to some human and animal studies they also improve exercise performance, increase blood flow, and decrease the growth of cancer cells. They contain vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, manganese and iron. In fact, they contain a bit of almost all the vitamins and minerals that we need.
Need more data?
Recent studies have shown compelling evidence that beets provide some impressive health benefits: they help lower blood pressure and plaque buildup in arteries; they are specially beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes and chronic inflammation, and also support mental and cognitive functions.
So with that introduction, here are a few delicious ways in which you can prepare them that will surely get you inspired to grow your own.
How to cook them:
- Remove the leafy greens by chopping them off right where they meet the fleshy part. Reserve for later use.
- Scrub your beets and rinse well.
- Grab a large pot. Add the beets and cover with approximately 2-3 inches of water.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, cover the pot and reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer until they are fork tender but not too soft. About 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the beets. The skin should peel right off.
Make a salad:
- Cut your beets in 1/8-inch thick slices.
- Add one small shallot thinly sliced, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Kosher salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss to combine.
You could also use lemon juice instead of balsamic vinegar if you prefer.
Make a delicious dip for an afternoon snack or your next pot-luck-party:
- This recipe is for one pound of beets.
- Cut your cooked and pealed beets in chunks and place them in a food processor.
- Add 2 Tbsp of chopped dill, 2 Tbsp of sour cream (I use Daisy), 1 tsp of cherry vinegar, ½ tsp of caraway seeds, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Process until smooth. Cover and chill for 20 minutes before serving.
- It goes great with a dry rosé or your favorite red wine.
Now it’s time to use those leafy greens we reserved at the beginning to make a tasty side dish. Use both leaves and stems. Wash them thoroughly and give them a rough chop.
- Heat 2Tbsp of olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat.
- To the chopped greens add 2 Tbsp of water, Kosher salt and pepper to taste, and cover.
- Let wilt, 2 to 4 minutes on medium heat.
- Remove lid and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the greens are completely wilted and softened, 1 to 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and drizzle balsamic vinegar, or add a handful of toasted-slivered-almonds. Serve hot.
Oh, and did I mention that beets contain Betaine? Yep. Betaine is an amino acid and antidepressant that acts as a stimulant for the production of dopamine. So there you have it, they also help you beet the blues!
In good health,