Can't Stop the Beet: Your Guide to Our Favorite Root Vegetable

Can't Stop the Beet: Your Guide to Our Favorite Root Vegetable

Let’s boost your beet intake! Beets are seriously underrated. Not only are they filled with valuable nutrients, but beets are also easy to eat. Add them to soups or salads to level-up their color and nutritional value.

Ready to get cooking? Here’s what you need to know.

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Why Beets Are Healthy

Why put beets on your plate? First, they’re delicious. Also, according to Samantha Thoms, MPH, RD, “Beets are a nutrition powerhouse, providing a good source of fiber (3.78 g per 1 cup serving), vitamins A and K, folate, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. I love that they are edible from root to stem!” Beets also contain betalain, an antioxidant-like compound.

We’ll also make adding beets even easier for you — below are basic ways to cook beets, plus a few of our favorite recipes.

 

How to Pick & Store Beets

When examining the beet: Select beets that are round, smooth, and firm. Try to avoid beets with bruising or shriveled skin.

When observing the leaves: If the leaves are still attached, they should appear dark and green. If no leaves remain, make sure the beets still have at least ½ inch of their stems and two inches of the taproot to keep color from leaching out as they cook.

Beet greens can be snipped off and stored in a separate bag. Like other root vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, you can store beets in the fridge for two to three weeks. Visit the FDA’s website for more information on safely storing produce.

 

Can You Eat Beets Raw?

beet salad | how to cook beets

Yes, raw beets add an earthy, sweet crunch to salads. Smaller beets (approximately 1 ½ inches diameter) are best for eating raw because they’re still tender. Larger beets (more than 2 ½ inches in diameter) will be tougher and are best cooked.

Unique ways to eat beets raw include pickled beets or spiralized beet “noodles.” Another creative form of beets is dehydrated beet powder. If you want to experiment, try it in this no-sugar-added Beet Berry Superfood Smoothie.

 

How to Use Beet Greens

If you have fresh beet greens, use them to supplement your salad bowl!

Or, sautee those greens with garlic and oil for a quick, nutritious side dish.

 

The Healthiest Way to Cook Beets

Is it better to boil, steam, or roast beets? Betalain, a beet-based antioxidant, is soluble in water. Some people prefer not to boil beets since they believe that this can cause betalain and other antioxidants to leach into the water. However, a study in 2017 found no difference in antioxidant activity between boiled, steamed, and roasted beets.

So, the healthiest way to cook beets is the one that’s more likely to get those beets into your belly!

 

3 Basic Ways to Cook Beets

Before cooking your beets, slice off the stem and leave at least ½ inch on top. Since beets grow in the ground, they need a good scrub to remove excess dirt. You don’t need to peel them—proceed to your desired cooking method. Once the beets are done, eat as is or use them in a recipe of your choosing.

1. Roasting beets

roasted beets | how to cook beets

“Roasted is my favorite way to eat beets! By wrapping the beets in foil, you trap heat. The beets literally cook in their own skin, and you don’t lose flavor and sweetness,” says Thoms. “It’s a bit messy but so easy to do.”

To roast beets, you’ll need oil and aluminum foil:

  1. Drizzle oil on the beets.
  2. Wrap 3-4 beets in aluminum foil, taking care to fold and crimp so very little air can escape the package.
  3. Roast at 400 degrees F for 45-60 minutes.
  4. Check for doneness by piercing the beets with a knife to see if it goes in smoothly.
  5. Run beets under cold water and rub off the skin. Beets are done!

2. Boiling beets

Boiled beets are tender but may appear less red because some pigments drain out into the cooking water. “To keep your beets a nice bright-red, add lemon juice or vinegar to the water,” advises Thoms.

To boil beets, you’ll need a large pot, salt, and some vinegar or lemon.

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water (plus 1-2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice) to a boil.
  2. Add your beets and let them cook at a low boil for 20-40 minutes.
  3. Check for doneness by piercing the beets with a knife to see if it goes in smoothly.
  4. Run beets under cold water and rub off the skin. Beets are done!

3. Steaming beets

steamed beets in a bowl | how to cook beets

If you have a steamer basket, steamed beets is a good alternative to boiling. You can cook the beets without worrying about too much flavor and pigment draining into the water.

To steam beets, you’ll need a large pot with a lid, steamer basket, salt, and a pair of tongs.

  1. Add water into the pot, making sure it doesn’t go above the steamer basket.
  2. Bring the water to a boil. Place beets in the steamer basket and cover the pot.
  3. Lower the heat to medium-high and let the beets steam for 30 minutes.
  4. Check for doneness by piercing the beets with a knife to see if it goes in smoothly.
  5. Run beets under cold water and rub off the skin. Beets are done!

In a hurry? You can reduce cooking time by cutting your beets into quarters before adding them to the steamer basket. If you do, check for doneness at the 15-minute mark. Pre-cooked beets are also a good option.

 

Beet Recipes to Try

You can add your cooked beets into a variety of dishes. Here are a few recipes for some kitchen inspiration:

Trinh Le

About

Trinh is a registered dietitian by day, blogger at Fearless Food by night. She loves helping folks develop a better relationship with food, which includes lots of cooking, eating and learning about nutrition. When she’s not snapping mouthwatering shots of (mostly) healthy food, you can find Trinh HIIT-ing it at her local gym. Follow her on Twitter.