Fall Beets: Versatile Leaf-to-Root EatsSep 30, 2022 ● By April Thompson
Versatile, nutritious, colorful and flavorful, beets are quite the package deal. This easy-to-grow, multi-season vegetable is packed with nutrition and plays well with other ingredients. Beets can be enjoyed raw, roasted, boiled or pickled. They can be blended into quick dips, thin-sliced for healthy chips or incorporated into desserts for a mild, sweet flavor and bold color.
“Beets have been a staple ingredient on our vegetarian menus for generations. They are an easy way to add natural sweetness and gorgeous color to so many dishes, both savory and sweet,” says Danica Wilcox, owner of the Moosewood Restaurant, in Ithaca, New York, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. The quintessential vegetarian eatery’s go-to beet dishes include hummus, burgers and borscht.
“Beets boast so many health benefits. Being rich in folate, manganese and copper, they are good for heart, brain and bone health. They are also a good source of fiber, which will feed the good bacteria in your gut, leading to improved gut health,” says Candace Bell, a Phoenix-based holistic nutritionist and food blogger at The Wheatless Kitchen. “Beets have a unique earthy flavor that goes perfectly with bright citrus. Roasting them brings out their sweet and savory flavors, and they pair well with arugula, crunchy walnuts and tangy goat cheese in a salad.”
Lisa Keys, of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, author of the food blog Good Grief Cook, grows beets and uses them in a number of ways. “Beets get their color from natural plant pigments called betalains, which contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help control illnesses like diabetes and heart disease,” she says. Her blog offers a recipe for a hearty, roasted beet sandwich, which pairs the root veggie with feta and a smashed avocado, dill, lime and yogurt spread.
Versatility is one of the beet’s star qualities. The root vegetable can be quick-pickled with other garden vegetables, pureed into soup, roasted for a side dish, shredded raw into salads, juiced into a smoothie or even concentrated into a powder—a favorite of registered dietitian nutritionist Mascha Davis, in Los Angeles. “Beet powder can be added to so many recipes for a fast and easy superfood boost,” she says. Her go-to applications for beet powder include a beet and rose latte, a beet-colored “pink yogurt” topped with berries and cacao nibs, and overnight oats swirled with beet powder.
If the benefits of the beetroot didn’t already run deep enough, its stems and leaves are not only edible, but also packed with vitamins A, B and K, as well as copper, manganese, iron and calcium. The greens make a great side dish to accompany a beetroot main dish or can be incorporated into a beet soup, salad, sandwich or smoothie for a zero-waste meal turbocharged with nutrients.
Like spinach, chard and other vegetables in the goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae), beets are rich in oxalates which can contribute to kidney stones. For most healthy people, though, oxalates aren’t harmful, if enjoyed in moderation.