4 reasons I love red beets

Top 4 reasons why I love red beets

Ever since I was a kid, I loved red beets. Usually, I’d only get to eat them during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Maybe that’s why I still consider them a special treat and love them so much today.

Red beets were a special treat

Back then, my grandmother would serve pickled red beets or even the inexpensive canned version as a side dish to the Thanksgiving turkey. I considered them a special but rare treat. I didn’t know it then, but this colorful, deep red root vegetable was also extremely healthy.

As an adult, I’ve continued to include red beets in my diet. Usually, I only buy them when they’re on sale. For instance, I recently paid $2.01 for three red beets that weighed about a pound. For that modest sum, I received three beets along with its leafy greens.

Don’t throw away the greens

Just like radish greens, red beet greens have their own unique taste. There’s a hint of sweetness which is balanced with an earthy bitterness. For me, that’s a perfect combination of tastes.

I use red beet greens, along with the vibrant red stems, in salads. Most of the time, though, I throw them into a baking pan for a couple of minutes, along with my already baking potatoes and meat.

Ironically, the red beet greens are the most nutritious part of the plant, so don’t throw away those leaves and stems.

Eat the entire plant

In fact, I use the entire red beet plant. That includes the beet itself, along with its sometimes long taproot that extends beneath the beet. Plus, as I noted above, I also use the entire leaves and stems that grow above the ground.

Top 4 reasons why I love red beets

So, I admit it — I love red beets. In fact, here are the top 4 reasons why I love red beets.

1. Great taste

— Canned red beets

I remember the canned red beets I ate as a child had tasted sweet. The sweet taste came from the added sugars.

In addition, most brands of canned red beets have lots of added sodium to appeal to our salt-laden western diets.

Despite the added sugar and salt, canned red beets still contain lots of vitamins and iron which are good for our bodies. Maybe canned red beets are a good way to get our children hooked on this healthy vegetable.

Today, I still buy canned red beets. I actually enjoy the canned beet taste — they have a slightly sweeter and saltier taste than this already subtly sweet and earthy vegetable.

— Fresh, unprocessed red beets have the best taste

Now that I’m an adult, I believe my tastes have become more refined. I actually prefer a less sweet, more earthy tasting red beet. To get that original red beet flavor, I buy my supply in the produce aisle.

Fresh, unprocessed red beets do have a subtle sweetness that does not overpower the more complex flavors. However, the flavors I most enjoy are the earthy, pungent flavors that appeal to my adult taste buds.

It’s that earthiness and range of subtle flavors that make red beets great companion dishes to potatoes, rice, chicken, beef, or pork. Maybe that’s why red beets are so popular for Thanksgiving and other holiday dinners.

2. Healthy super-food

Red beets are so packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that they might be classified as a super-food. Well, I don’t know about that, but I do know that I feel healthier after including red beets in a meal.

It’s like my body is getting a booster shot of vitamins A, B6, C, along with ample supplies of potassium, magnesium, thiamine, and iron.

In addition, my digestive system benefits from the densely packed fiber included in each beet.

3. Versatile

You can use red beets as a side dish, salad, or a crunchy chip for snacks.

To prepare the beets and greens, all you need is a sharp knife, durable mandolin slicer, or an all-purpose food processor. I use an easy-to-clean Braun food processor.

— Salads

To use red beets in a salad, it’s best to slice them consistently thin. If the slices are too thick, it’s a little difficult to stick a fork into them.

In my red beet salads, I also include the greens, toss in tomatoes, bok choy, cheese, and if I’ve been good, I also include diced bacon. Bacon and raw red beets taste so good together.

red beets and bacon
Broiled red beets and crispy bacon
are a tasty combination

photo by Doug Martin

red beet salad
Sliced red beets and chopped greens
go great with other salad ingredients

photo by Doug Martin

— Raw, boiled, baked, or broiled will work

Most of the time, I broil sliced red beets with my potatoes and meat. Usually, I broil or bake the potatoes for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Then, I add the sliced beets for another 20 minutes or less, but reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.

— Red beet chips are a healthy treat

Your children will love red beet chips, and you will, too. They’re so easy to make that even I can do them well.

First, slice the red beets. Thinner slices (1/16 of an inch) work best and will get more crunchy, almost like regular potato chips. For me, I have to use a mandolin slicer to get them sliced thin enough.

Second, lay the beet slices on a plate where you can add your favorite type of oil. In the past, I’ve used olive oil and canola oil. Both imparted their own unique flavors to the chips. Brush oil on both sides of the beet slices. Also, add a small amount of salt or your other favorite spices.

Third, place the red beet slices in a baking pan lined with aluminum foil.

Fourth, preheat your oven to broil at 300-to-350 degrees. I’ve had the best results at the higher temperatures, but that might be because my oven is old. Also, I think broiling makes the chips crunchier.

Finally, broil or bake for 30 minutes, and flip every 10 minutes or so.

4. Easy to prepare

I’m not an experienced gourmet cook. In fact, I only know the bare essentials to prepare a tasty, nourishing meal.

Thankfully, the rich, earth taste of red beets, no matter how I’ve prepared them, makes it seem like I’m a professional cook.

Whether you’re using red beets in a salad, as a side dish for a large meal, or as a simple ingredient for a light lunch, red beet preparation is easy.

My favorite way to prepare my red beets is in an oven. I either bake or broil them in a pan lined with aluminum foil. Sometimes, I only heat them at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Other times, I heat them for up to 20 minutes.

Ultimately, I like my red beet slices to still be a little juicy. However, I also love the crunchy red beet chips for a healthy snack.

I remember my mother used to boil red beets, usually for about 30-to-45 minutes. The thicker beets needed more boiling time to get tender. She’d add a little salt, vinegar, and even sugar to the water.

Afterwards, she’d pull out each beet and slice them. Boiling really makes this tough vegetable easy to slice and then serve to eager children.

My favorite memory is dipping the boiled red beet slice into mashed potatoes. They tasted so good together. I bet your children would love that combination.

The beauty of this vegetable is that you can experiment and find your own method of preparation.


Top 4 reasons why I love red beets

Red beets taste great, with many nuanced flavors. They are easy to prepare, and can be used in a variety of ways for your meals. Best of all, red beets are loaded with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that can keep us healthy.

By Doug Martin, Opportunity Muse.

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by Doug Martin and Opportunity Muse.
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