They might be rough around the edges on the outside, but cut into one of these unassuming root vegetables and you'll see why "beautiful" is an accurate descriptor.
With vibrant colors, hypnotizing patterns, and a huge host of health benefits, this is one plant worthy of a spot in your garden. Not sure what exactly to do with them though? Keep reading.
The Beet Buzz1. Chock full of nutrition, not calories. 1/2 cup of beets offers all of these vitamins and minerals PLUS phytonutrients that aren't listed on nutrition labels. More on that in a bit!
2. A secret weapon against inflammation. Those phytonutrients I mentioned? Beets have unique pigments (betalins) that have been shown to inhibit the activity of COX enzymes, the messengers our cells use to trigger an inflammatory response. In cases such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes, too much inflammation is a bad thing. Regularly consuming powerhouse veggies like beets may help to reduce chronic inflammatory markers. This is a big deal!
3. Fights cancer. Studies have shown that beetroot extract can actually slow the growth of tumor cells. That's pretty amazing.
4. Supports detoxification. In our modern society, we are bombarded by toxic substances: agrochemicals, plastics, industrial chemicals, cleaning agents - the list goes on and on. Our incredible cells are constantly trying to rid themselves of these unwanted substances by linking them with small nutrient groups. This process neutralizes the toxins and makes them water-soluble so that we can excrete them. Long story short, the betalins contained in beets trigger this activity!
5. Cognitive function. As we age, blood flow to the brain can decrease. Research has shown that folks consuming a nitrate-rich diet, including beetroot juice, have improved cerebral blood flow. Be right back.... I need to grab a glass!
How to Prepare Beets
Alright, so I've sold you on the health benefits of beets. Now to convince you that they are actually something you can add to your diet. Here's what we do to make it easy to sneak them in on a regular basis.
1. Rinse your beets. No need to peel them yet!
2. Trim off the greens down to 1 inch above them stem (this keeps the pigments from bleeding out). You can sauté the greens or throw them in a salad.
3. If the beets are large, quarter them.
4. In a large pot with a steamer basket, bring 2 inches of water to a boil then add beets. Steam for about 15 minutes until tender when poked with a fork. (Note: cooking beets for a long time will decrease their nutritional value.)
5. Allow beets to cool. You will find that they peel quite easily now!
6. Dice them up then toss them in a bag and store them in the freezer. Making a smoothie? Throw a handful in the blender. Preparing a salad? They go beautifully with toasted pecans, goat cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette. Having beets on hand and ready to use makes it easy for you to reap their many health benefits!
Beet Growing Tips
Remember, the fresher the vegetable, the more nutritious it is. That's why we recommend growing your own. Fortunately, beets are an easy vegetable to grow and you don't need a huge garden to do it! They are a cool weather crop, which means you can plant them about 2-3 weeks before the last frost in the spring. Then, plant again in late summer or early fall, about 6-8 weeks before the first frost. We like to plant every few weeks to keep them coming.
Purchase our favorite seeds here, then plant them in the ground or in these easy-to-use grow bags on your patio! They grow well in raised beds too. The bulbs will be ready in about 1-2 months, but you can harvest the greens for salads anytime. Give them a try and your body will thank you!