Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just beet it!

I don't believe it's necessary to get into the details about the nutritional benefits of beets. After all, the "eat it because it's good for you" is what eventually sabotaged its "superpower" status. Eat it because it's good: to the palate and for the body.

I remember growing up liking beets. For the first 13 years of my life, I only recall eating the canned/pickled type (but I like sour tastes). It was when we moved back to Brazil that I was introduced to the other facets of beets. I remember eating them raw, shredded with a bit of olive oil, salt and vinegar. The texture is similar to that of a carrot. Actually, one of the places I often ate lunch would serve a plate of shredded carrots and beets. Also, beets were used in juices. Although they may add tons of sugar, fresh juice is a normal part of Brazilian life (as I know it). So it was common to see beets paired with oranges and carrots. And then there's ice cream... ha ha, just kidding ;-)

Interestingly enough, a discussion about beets has independently started taking place on a dietitian's listserv. Monika blogged about having never eaten it and then when she reluctantly tried it, she was surprised it was actually good. Others mentioned eating them raw and shredded like I do, putting them in smoothies, pureeing it and adding it to chocolate cake (hmm, we have a birthday coming up...) So I am glad I am not alone. Even if it is in a self-selected group of dietitians. I guess I should ask them what to do with the beet greens. [update: I added beet greens info in the comments section] Also, one of the women at the City Fresh pickup makes beet pancakes, much like potato or zucchini pancakes.

Oh, I better warn you that beets stain quite a bit. I remembered to put on an apron to keep from staining my favorite shirt, but I forgot about my hands. After washing thoroughly (not scrubbing too hard, though), I significantly reduced the stain by rubbing baking soda onto my hands and nail beds. I rinsed it off and probably 10 minutes later my hands had no trace of beet stains! Great, because I really didn't want to be seen in public with those red hands... especially when I was going out on a date with my husband.

Anyway, here is what I did with the beet root:

I peeled them, shredded them, segmented an orange, drizzled some olive oil and red wine vinegar and added a bit of salt. I liked it but there was one problem: My olive oil is rancid (and we bought a week ago). So even though my mother in law and I liked it (my oldest son ate it too and he asked for more, but didn't finish it), I just didn't want to blow my only shot at getting my husband to try beets (a quick disclaimer: he's not a picky eater. His beet memories are that bad) . So given I don't have any more oranges, I will add pineapple and use canola oil instead. If that doesn't work, I'll just have to accept the fact that I'm going to outlive him ;-)


  1. More info on beet greens:

    Selecting and Storing Beet Greens (from foodblogga):

    Look for unwilted, green leaves with bright red spines. If they're shriveled or full of holes, then skip 'em.
    To prepare beet greens, cut off the thick stalks. Submerge greens in a large bowl of cool water to remove dirt. Drain, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry. Remove any tough inner stalks of the beet green leaves. Wrap loosely in paper towel and place in a Ziploc bag or an air-tight plastic container. They should last 2-3 days in the refrigerator this way. You can also remove the beet greens and store them unwashed in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days, assuming they weren't too old when you purchased them.

    If you aren't going to use your beet greens right away, then clean them as usual and par-boil them by dropping them in boiling water for about 1 minute; remove and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Shocking the greens will keep them bright and beautiful. Drain, and store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

    Other delicious ways to enjoy beets greens:

    Thinly sliced and added raw to salads
    Sauteed in olive oil and garlic, and placed on crostini with goat or blue cheese
    Added to vegetable soups and stews
    Added to frittatas with cheese such as ricotta, Parmesan, or goat
    Simply sauteed in olive oil and garlic, then topped with raisins and toasted pine nuts
    Creamed with milk or heavy cream, butter, flour, and nutmeg

  2. I get your comment about beet greens now! With being on vacation I am just now catching up on blogs=)

    I have made beet pancakes with canned beets and they weren't bad.