Beets Don’t Kale My Vibe

Posted on October 4th, 2017
It’s not surprising that beets are one of America’s most disliked vegetables. Most commonly seen as slippery rounds on a salad bar or blended in smoothies and juices at juice bars, if you haven’t had them cooked multiple ways, I understand your repulsion. Most politely described as, “earthy” in taste (the most honest humans call that, “dirt”), they are quite unappealing to the beet newbie. I can freely admit that I used to dislike beets. But, as with many foods, it’s all about flavor pairings. Before we dive into my top 7 ways to eat beets, here’s a little rundown on this beautiful root vegetable:
Nutrition (1, 2” diameter beet): Calories: 35, Protein: 1 g, Fat: 0 g, Carbohydrate: 8 g, Fiber: 2 g, Calcium: 13 mg, Magnesium: 19 mg, Phosphorus: 33 mg, Potassium: 266 mg, Vitamin C: 4 mg, Folate: 89 µg, Vitamin A: 27 IU.
Health Benefits:
  • Heart Health: The high nitrate content in beets has blood pressure lowering effects, while its richness in other bioactive compounds have vascular-protecting properties.
  • Combat Chronic Inflammation: The antioxidants found in beets may combat systemic inflammation associated with obesity, liver disease, cancer, and heart disease.
  • Prevent Cognitive Decline: The high nitrate content in beets aids in cerebral blood flow (cerebral = brain/head).
  • Natural Sports Supplement: Some scientific literature suggests that high doses of nitrate can reduce the oxygen cost during exercise, which translates to better muscle efficiency and an increase in exercise tolerance.
I know I can feed you all the nutritional benefits I want, but the fact remains that if something does not taste good, most of us won’t eat it! I dare you to explore any of the below ways to incorporate beets into your diet.
If you’ve never tried a beet or have had very few beet experiences, a smoothie is a “safe” way to go. The brightness and sweetness of oranges makes a fantastic pairing to beets as it cuts through some of that earthiness. Ginger is also highly recommended- i can’t explain the magic that happens in the blender when these two get together, but it’s amazing. I never use a recipe for smoothies, but the linked recipe is quite similar to what I do at home.
  • Blender Tip: If you don’t have a high powered blender, try using cooked beets and applesauce instead of raw.

Beet, orange, and ginger smoothie topped with bee pollen

Before you raise an eyebrow and call me crazy for suggesting beets for dessert, just hear me out! When beets get cooked, they become sweeter. Blend that sweet veg with flour, sugar, coconut oil, and a little lemon, and you’ve got yourself a beautifully hued and fiber-rich dessert that tastes anything but earthy.
Athlete Tip: These bars make great pre-exercise treats for my athletes out there.

Beet & Pistachio Bars

You can make beet hummus as mildly beet flavored as you’d like. It’s another great way to dip your toes in the beet waters. Most beet hummus recipes I find include ingredients for a basic hummus with the addition of blending a cooked beet. The below picture is what I call, “cheater beet hummus”. Reasor's retails both of these products, where all you need to do is blend one small, cooked beet with one container of store-bought hummus. Or you can make it from scratch in the linked recipe above. *note: If you use the Melissa's pre-steamed beets, the resulting hummus color will not be as vibrant as using home-roasted beets. 

"Cheater" Beet Hummus: Blend store-bought hummus blended with 1 large steamed beet, and voila!

The beet flavor is mild in these pancakes, and they serve as a perfect medium for a veggie boost- (you don’t have to tell your kids or picky spouse what colors them) I actually doubled the recipe except for the pureed beets, and the color was still super vibrant, as pictured below. The recipe reviews show that canned beets work great in these if you don’t want to roast your own. Or, pureeing the Melissa’s baby beets pictured in #7. *note: If you use the Melissa's pre-steamed beets, the resulting pancake color will not be as vibrant as using home-roasted beets. 

No food coloring needed; pureed roasted beets developed this beautiful fuschia color!

Now, we get into the meat and potatoes- pun intended! The recipe calls this a beet puree, but it’s basically thinner mashed potatoes blended with cooked beets. The mild earthiness of the puree with the salty and umami pork is melt-in-your-mouth amazing. I would call the beet flavor in this meal a step above the smoothie and bars; you’re getting into earthy territory, but not quite full blown in-you-face-BEETS.

Pork Chops in Sage Butter with Beet Puree and Swiss Chard

Can you tell this meal was made using the leftovers from #3? We don’t like food waste in my home! My husband and I didn’t use a recipe, but the linked one looks lovely. The nutty and peppery flavors of arugula is a well known pairing with beets. I like a runny egg so the yolk mixes with the latkes.
Home Grown Tip: Arugula grows super well during the spring and fall. You can even grow it in pots if you don’t have much outdoor space. Gardening Tips here.

Fried eggs with arugula, beet & potato latkes, and beet & potato puree.

Now we get into full-blown beet territory! This recipe calls for arugula and an orange and shallot vinaigrette (notice the arugula and orange pairings sneaking up on us again). Goat cheese is also a genius pairing with roasted beets. The salty, creamy, and tart flavors of goat cheese meld beautifully with the earthiness of the beets. I also love making a kale salad with roasted beets, cooked farro (a nutty flavored wheat grain), orange or blood orange segments, and a citrus vinaigrette.

Beet & goat cheese salad with an orange shallot vinaigrette

These are just a handful of ways I enjoy eating beets. Did you ever think beets could be so versatile in both sweet and savory recipes?
This post wouldn’t be complete without sharing a basic tutorial on how to roast beets. It’s super easy; just make sure to wear an apron!
I hope this post has inspired you to try and explore beets in many ways. Tell us about your best or worst beet experience in the comments!
About the Blogger:
Hayden James, MA, RDN/LD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and enjoys running, rock climbing, and experimenting in the kitchen. Hayden offices from the Jenks Reasor’s, and she also provides dietitian services at both Reasor’s locations in Owasso.
Information included does not constitute medical advice and should only be used as a general recommendation for a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle. Reasor’s Registered Dietitians’ opinions and recommendations are their own; they are not paid to endorse any products or services.