By Judy Reed
Many of us here in Michigan grew up loving (or hating) beets. And usually, we only had them one of two ways—either boiled or pickled. Michigan-grown beets are available late July to late October, so now is a good time to try out some new ways to cook and eat them. You can grill or roast beets, eat them in salads, include them in smoothies, or even desserts such as brownies or cupcakes. Now that’s a versatile vegetable!
Beets are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. They are also a good source of Vitamin C, Iron and Magnesium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Folate, Potassium and Manganese. One cup of beets is 58 calories, and provides 4g of fiber, 2g of protein, 9g of sugar, and 13g of carbohydrates. The glycemic load is a 5, if you use that scale.
Storage and food safety
The Michigan State University Extension website recommends the following for handling and storing fresh beets:
- Avoid using large beets as they can be tough and woody.
- Wash hands before and after handling fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Wash beets thoroughly under cool running water. Do not use soap.
- Keep beets away from raw meats and meat juice to prevent cross contamination.
- Before storing, trim the stem to 2 inches above the beet. Do not trim the tail.
- Store beets in a plastic bag in the refrigerator at or below 41 °F for 7 to 10 days.
- Beets may be frozen for up to ten months.
- For best quality and nutritive value, preserve only what your family can consume in 12 months.
See the recipe below from about.com on how to grill beets, and another recipe that should be close to the hearts of those in Cedar Springs—Red Flannel Hash, from Eatingwell.com.
How to Grill Beets
Estimate 1 small to medium beet per person and get grilling.
Heat the grill to medium-hot (you should be able to hold your hand about an inch over the cooking grate for about 2 seconds).
Meanwhile, peel and slice the beets.
Brush the beets with olive oil or vegetable oil. Sprinkle them lightly with salt.
Place the beets on the grill. If using a gas grill, close the cover. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, turn, and continue cooking until the beets are tender and grill-marked, another 8 to 10 minutes.
Serve the beets hot, warm, or at room temperature. Drizzle them with additional olive oil for serving, if you like. This is also a great time to use any nut oils (toasted walnut oil or hazelnut oil in particular), since they so perfectly complement the earthy-yet-sweet flavor of grilled beets.
Red Flannel Hash (from eatingwell.com)
Makes: 4 servings
Serving Size: 1 cup
Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
2 cups diced peeled beets (1/2 inch; about 2 medium)
2 cups diced russet potatoes (1/2 inch)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup diced fennel bulb plus 1/4 cup chopped fronds for garnish
1 cup diced shallots
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add beets, cover and steam for 4 minutes. Add potatoes, cover and steam until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes more.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add diced fennel and shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the steamed vegetables; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are starting to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in salt and pepper and fennel fronds, if using.
Per serving: 189 calories; 7 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 8 g total sugars; 4 g protein; 5 g fiber; 364 mg sodium; 762 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Folate (26% daily value), Vitamin C (23% dv), Potassium (22% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 2
Exchanges: 1 starch, 3 vegetable, 1 1/2 fat