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Don’t Forget the Other End of the Greens – Beets

Beets come in many varietiesWhile people are exploring ways to eat more greens, many are overlooking the beet; the root vegetable attached to the leaves.  Beets are a great way to expand your vegetable choices and get the bonus of two vegetables in one.  Beets are a cool season vegetable available year-round in the supermarket.  In Florida, the planting season is from August to January, depending on the variety.

Beets are a super healthy vegetable; a real winner when it comes to fiber, folate and potassium.
Beets, ½ cup sliced
cooked, boiled, drained 
calories 37
protein  1.5 g
fat    0 g
carbohydrates  8.5 g
fiber  2.0 g
folate       68 mcg
potassium    259 mg
sodium     65 mg
Key: 
 g         grams
 mg      milligrams 
 mcg     micrograms
 Reference - USDA Nutrient Database

When available, choose fresh beets with the green leaves attached.  Select beets that are round, smooth and firm with no bruises.  The green leaves should be healthy with no signs of browning or wilting.  Leave two inches of the stem on the beets and remove the green leaves.  Unwashed beets and greens should be stored separately in perforated plastic bags in the refrigerator.  Beets will keep in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.  Greens are more perishable and should be cooked within two to three days.

Beets can be eaten in many ways.

Beets can be eaten in many ways.

When ready to prepare, rinse beets under cool running tap water and scrub with a vegetable brush to remove surface dirt.  To eat raw, remove skin with a peeler.  Grate or cut into different shapes for salads.  To eat cooked, leave the skin on until after cooking and it will easily slip off.  Small and medium size beets are more flavorful and cook quicker than larger ones.

Wash Your Beet Greens

Greens need to be thoroughly washed before eating to remove grit and dirt.  Place greens in a large bowl filled with lukewarm tap water in the sink.  Gently circulate greens and water to help loosen residue.  Drain water, rinse leaves and repeat process about three times until there is no more grit or dirt in the bottom of the bowl.  Cut off any roots and stems before use.  Greens can be eaten raw in salads or cooked as a side-dish or in soups and stews.  Click here to visit the Leafy Greens Council’s website for more information on different types of leafy greens.

Beet salad

Beet Salad

Besides eaten raw, beets can be baked, boiled, microwaved, pickled, roasted, sautéed and steamed.  Click here to visit Oregon State University Extension Service’s website on how to select, prepare and cook beets along with tropical beets and beet and carrot salad recipes.