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beets

Numerous health and wellness media outlets have printed various “The Best Foods You Aren’t Eating” articles over the last few years. Included in many of those lists are beets.  I have to admit they were not on my ‘favorite’ veggie list when I was a kid. But I’ve grown to like them as an adult, and would like to encourage you to think about incorporating them more often into your diet.

What nutritional benefits can you get from eating beets? 

  • Beets are part of the chenopod family. Other members include chard, spinach, and quinoa.
  • The reddish purple pigments in beets contain phytochemicals called betalins. Betalins help lessen growth of tumor cells in the colon, stomach, nerve, lung, breast, prostate, and testicles.
  • Beets are especially protective of our eyes and our nervous system. They also help protect against heart disease, birth defects, and cancer.
  • Beets are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and manganese.
  • Beets help reduce inflammation. Heart disease and diabetes are two chronic health problems aggravated by inflammation.
  • The fiber in beets is unique, and may provide health benefits in the digestive tract and cardiovascular system.

Preparing Fresh Beets

Cut the majority of the leaves and stems off.  Leave about 2” of the stems on to prevent bleeding.  Do not wash before storing.  Place in a plastic bag or saran wrap and wrap tightly to keep out air. They will keep about four days in the refrigerator.

Raw beets do not freeze well.  However, you can freeze cooked beets. To begin preparing beets, run them first under cold water to clean. You may notice that beets “bleed” a little and turn your hands red.  You can remove the temporary dye by rubbing your hands with lemon juice.

Cut beets into quarters, leaving 2” of the tap root and 1” of stem.  Cook as lightly as possible by steaming or cooking in a small amount of liquid. When you can insert a knife or fork easily into the beet, they are done.  Peel beets on a cutting board and use gloves to prevent staining your hands. You can also eat beets raw by grating and adding to salads.

Easter Tradition

You may want to try this unique beet recipe for Easter dinner. “Beets and horseradish” is a side dish used on ham. I learned how to make it years ago from my father-in-law whose ancestors came from Czechoslovakia. It is an Eastern European tradition.

Beets and Horseradish

1 bunch fresh beets (4-5)

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

4 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon grated horseradish

Boil beets until soft.  Skin and cool to room temperature. Grate beets by hand, do not use a food processor. Add remaining ingredients. Refrigerate. Canned beets may be substituted for fresh (save the beet juice to make pickled eggs).

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Sources:

https://www.health.com/nutrition/beets-health-benefits?slide=327494#327494

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/311343.php

https://foodandnutrition.org/november-december-2015/beets-deserve-spotlight/

https://www.justbeetit.com/beet-nutrition

 

 

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This is a great time of year to enjoy root vegetables. These are the tubers and roots of vegetables that we can eat. Root vegetables grow underground and absorb a lot of nutrients from the soil. They are concentrated with antioxidants, Vitamins C, B, A, and iron. They are also packed with carbohydrates and fiber, which help you feel full, and aid in regulating your blood sugar and digestive system.

In addition to power packed nutritional density, root vegetables are also extremely versatile in cooking not to mention inexpensive. Here are some root vegetable ideas and preparation suggestions.

Picture of roasted vegetables

Beets — Beets are higher in both fiber and sugar than other root vegetables, and are a good source of folate, potassium and manganese. Beets are high in naturally occurring nitrates and may help to support healthy blood pressure. Roasting or steaming beets whole makes them easier to peel. They also are delicious raw, shredded and tossed in salads or thinly sliced and baked into chips.

Carrots — Carrots are commonly orange on grocery store shelves, yet in nature they come in a variety of sizes, colors and flavors. Carrots are a great source of vitamin A from beta carotene. Carrots are wonderful in a variety of cooking methods – raw, roasted, or in soup. The more fresh the carrot, the sweeter and juicier it will be.

Celery Root — Celery root, or celeraic, is a big ball of a vegetable that’s a bit tough to peel. But once you do you’ll be rewarded with an earthy, almost herbal flavor that comes through whether raw, roasted, pureed or mashed.

Parsnips — Parsnips are similar to carrots although white in color. They’re earthy-sweet and starchy like potatoes. One-half cup of cooked parsnips contains about 3 grams of fiber and more than 10 percent of the daily values of vitamin C and folate. Choose smaller parsnips so they are more tender, then peel and cube for a roast, mash, puree or fries.

Radishes — Radishes have a crisp, spicy bite that mellows under heat. Choose firm radishes with a healthy sheen and no cracks, and slice them into salads or on a sandwich, or sauté them in butter with mint.

Rutabagas — Rutabagas are a cross between cabbage and turnip. Rutabagas are more fibrous than turnips and slightly sweeter and are a great source of vitamin C. Choose firm ones smaller than a softball for roasts and mashes.

Sweet Potatoes — Sweet potatoes great sources of fiber and vitamin A. And they are as versatile as they are delicious. Try them roasted, boiled, broiled, sautéed, mashed, steamed or baked!

Turnips — When harvested young, turnips are tender and sweet. Look for small ones with firm, pearly white skin. You can even eat the turnip greens (they’ve got a spicy, mustard flavor), and are packed with vitamins A, K & C.

Check out this recipe on Roasted Root Vegetables for a hearty mix-up!

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by:  Daniel Remley, Extension Specialist, Ohio State University Extension.

Sources:

“Good for You: Root Vegetables.” Kansas State Research and Extension. Kansas SNAP Ed. (retrieved 11/7/2018). https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/humannutrition/newsletters/good-for-you/goodforyou-documents/goodforyoufall2015.pdf

Larson, H. MS, RD (October 3, 2017) “9 Fall Produce Picks to Add to Your Plate for a hearty mix-up.” American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/9-fall-produce-picks-to-add-to-your-plate

 

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