Let me begin by saying that there are a few vague facts I had heard about beets but I had not read any details, and so basically I didn’t really know a whole lot.
Did You Know?
It turns out that one variety of beets is sugar beets. This white beet variety is grown specifically for sugar production. Between 30% and 50% of the world obtains its sugar from sugar beets, and 55% of sugar production in the U.S is from sugar beets. There is little taste difference between the sugar derived from sugar cane and the sugar derived from sugar beets. The most interesting fact I learned is that because the U.S. does not require labeling, we don’t know which type of sugar we are eating, unless we are purchasing sugar that specifically states that it is made from 100% sugar cane.
Why would we want to know the difference? I have linked to some articles below with more details, one of which suggests that there is no such thing as an organic sugar beet, and it also states that 95% of the sugar beets are genetically modified. Another article provides a brief description of the sugar growing and production process from both sugar cane and sugar beets. It appears neither is environmentally friendly. One last fact that I was surprised to learn is that some sugar is not vegan because charred animal bones are used in part of the production process.
So I will get back to the main topic of this post which is the beets (red) that we can find in the produce departments at grocery stores. Before I do so, I just want to say that I included this information about sugar for those that have a goal of making better food choices. Sugar is not going away, and we are never going to stop consuming it. However, it has been identified as a major contributor of health problems and I think that the more facts that we know about the foods that are potentially part of our own problems, the better we are prepared to shift our mind set in ways that help better balance our diets to improve our overall health.
So let me get back to the red beets.
Red Beets have very important nutrients that aid in overall health, and help in lowering high blood pressure, they provide antioxidants, they contain anti inflammatory properties, and may be able to help lower the risks of certain kinds of cancers. In this Beet Nutritional Profile you can view the chart of specific nutrients a lot more.
I don’t recall eating beets growing up, and only until recently did I start eating them on a regular basis.
It was a few years ago however, when I tasted beets for the first time. They were part of a breakfast buffet at an out-of- town restaurant. They were prepared as a pickled beet salad which appeared to have only mayonnaise. I remember it being an interesting buffet item. It was strange but it was not bad and it piqued my interest in beets.
I did not rush to buy beets after this experience, but I did pay more attention to them when I saw them.
The next time a tried them was on a salad I prepared myself. I tried to replicate the salad with pickled beets but it was not great, because I used canned beets and they had a metallic after taste.
A few months ago I purchased some fresh beets at the farmers market. This time I decided to google” roasted beets”, and up came a pretty simple Martha Stewart recipe which I prepared and which is summarized below.
Simple Beet Recipes
Cut into wedges, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in oven. It was simple enough. I added chopped fresh rosemary from my garden and they were absolutely delicious.
The recipe’s temperature and cooking time have been a challenge because the size of the beets is not always the same. I now set the oven temperature to 400 degrees and roast the beets for 15 minutes. I then lower the temperature to 360 and check for doneness with a fork every 10 minutes or so.
- ½ Carrot
- 1 tbsp / per cup of beets Marias Cole Slaw Dressing (I find in the grocery store refrigerated salad dressing section close to or in the produce department)
- Pepper to taste
- Use grater to shred beets and carrot
- Mix with slaw dressing; add pepper if desired
This salad dressing is super sweet and so I recommend using the least amount needed to prepare the slaw, or use a hommade recipe with less sugar, as the beets already contain enough sugar.
Beet Fries with Blue Cheese or Feta Cheese
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp / per cup of beets Crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese
- Cut beets into strips, set aside
- Heat oil in frying pan on medium heat
- Add beet strips to the oil and cover the pan
- Cook on medium to high heat for 2-3 minutes
- Reduce heat to low and uncover to stir every 2 minutes or so and cover again
- Use a fork to test for doneness
- Turn off heat when done
- Transfer to serving platter, toss with salt, pepper, and blue cheese or feta cheese
The next recipe on my list to try is Cooked Beet Carpaccio linked below. I will prepare the side dish without the sugar, as I think it will still be delicious without it.
There are many ways to prepare beets. The easiest way to prepare them, aside from eating them raw, is to steam them or boil them like potatoes. They are delicious and if you do not eat them, try incorporating them in small amounts into salads until you develop your palate for them, as they are super nutritious.
Here are the resources referenced above.
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