Vegetable Of The Month: Beetroot

I have to be honest, beetroot was not always my favourite vegetable. In fact, I didn’t use to eat it at all! As with many other foods, as soon as I discovered how to cook and add beetroot in my menu, it quickly became a staple in my kitchen. I love its sweet and earthy flavour, as it offers a delicious taste to your food, not to mention the pretty colour beet adds to dishes.

This root vegetable is currently in season and you will notice it at the farmers market and in supermarkets more often. If you are not a big fan, just as I was, you should still keep on reading, as you might change your opinion quickly. Not to mention that you will add a really healthy veggie to your menu!

beet3

Not the prettiest vegetable, but really good for you!

Health Benefits

Beetroot has shown to improve stamina and exercise results.* This might be related to the nitrates contained in beetroot being turning into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps increase blood flow to the muscles, which makes it easier to produce energy. So drink up a glass of beet juice before your next workout to increase your stamina and performance. 😉

Beet is a powerhouse of nutrients. An excellent source of minerals, such as potassium (good for the heart and electrolyte balance in the body), manganese  (for healthy bones, and improved function of the kidneys), and copper (helps prevent premature aging, and balances thyroid glands). It also contains vitamin C (strengthens the immune system), and vitamin B6 (helping to maintain a healthy metabolism, nerve and liver function). Beetroot is also a source of folate and iron, both important nutrients for pregnant women. Add them to your menu to increase your daily fiber and improve your digestion.

Beets are an unique source of betaine, a nutrient with anti-inflammatory properties, which protects the internal organs and provides cardiovascular benefits.** The phytonutrients, present in beets, which give its bright and deep red colour may also help protect against cancer.

Also known for their detoxification properties, beets help purify the blood and liver, and help the body get rid of excessive toxins.

If you find beets with the green leaves, don’t throw them away, as they contain lots of nutrients too! Rich in zinc, fiber, protein, calcium and vitamin A, they can be prepared the same way as spinach or chard.

beet2

How to select and store 

Select beets that are firm, smooth and with a vibrant red/purple colour. Avoid if they are soft, wrinkled and dull in colour, or have spots and blemishes. Small and medium sized beets are to be preferred to bigger ones, as they indicate that they are younger, and the skin is tender. Beets can be stored in the fridge for two to four weeks.

If you buy them with their greens attached, then look for greens that are intact, fresh and tender. Cut the leaves off, before storing them, leaving some of the stem attached to the root. They can be stored in the fridge for three to four days. Don’t wash them until you actually are going to use them. Don’t freeze them raw as they will soften when defrosted. You can freeze well cooked beets though.

How to cook beetroot

As mentioned earlier you can prepare the beetroot leaves the same way as spinach or chard. I like to add them to my salad or sauté them with some rice and mushrooms.

As for the actual beetroot, my favourite way to prepare them is to roast them. I slice the beetroot into thin half moons, add some oil, salt and fresh rosemary and bake for about 25-30 min. It’s super easy and tasty! I also like them grated in salads, or steamed in more hearty meals.

Keep in mind that beetroot contains the most sugar of all vegetables, so consume with moderation.

If your hands get stained while preparing your beets, rub some lemon on them to help remove the colour. You might notice some red or pink colour in your urine or stool after consuming them. This is completely normal. 😉

How do you like to prepare beetroot? Share with me in the comments below! 

Sources:

*https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19661447

**http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=49

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