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Beets-Two Vegetables in One

You probably knew that beets were high in nutrition but did you know that the leaves (tops) are also a good source of vitamins A and K, calcium and magnesium and are similar to spinach in taste and texture?

TEXARKANA, Ark. –

Beets are often ignored by shoppers, even though they are available year round in supermarkets, and May to June and September to November at farmers markets and local gardens. Perhaps you are one of those who pass by the beets looking for other veggies. Understanding the benefits of eating beets might make you reconsider and give them a fair trial.

Whole fresh beets offer two vegetables in one. The leaves are edible and tasty if steamed and topped with margarine or butter, lemon or lime, and your favorite spices. They are similar to spinach in taste and texture and quite nutritious. Simply separate the beets from the leaves and store them until you have enough.

The outer skins should be peeled from the red beets. They can then be grated raw and sprinkled on salads or chopped into quarters, steamed and prepared as you would any vegetable. Add grated raw beets to a salad just before serving because beets stain other vegetables. Add thin-cut strips of beet leaves to soups.

Beets are high in nutrition and are considered a “cardiovascular health-friendly” root vegetable. Beets provide 27% of RDA and are an excellent source of folate, which may reduce your risk of heart disease. Eating foods with folate before pregnancy helps lower the risk of delivering a baby with neural tube defects. Beets also provide potassium, magnesium and fiber. Potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure, magnesium helps build and maintain strong bones, and fiber helps control cholesterol and keeps you regular.

Beet greens (tops) are a source of vitamin K, calcium and magnesium which help build and maintain strong bones. Vitamin A in beet greens helps maintain eye health.

Choose fresh, bright, firm textured beets that are similar in size, smooth, round and are a deep red color. If available, choose beets with fresh, dark green tops.

If you are buying the whole vegetable, sever top greens from the root as they rob moisture and nutrition from the roots. Wash greens in a cool water bath and swish until dirt and sand is removed. Drain leaves and wrap in a paper towel. Store wrapped greens in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper. Store roots in a plastic bag in the refrigerator 2 to 3 weeks.

Clean beets gently to prevent tearing the thin skins. Cook before cutting or peeling to retain color and flavor. Roasting is the best way to keep the sweet taste of beets. To roast, rub a light coat of olive oil on the skins, wrap each beet in foil and roast for 1 hour at 400 degrees F.

For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at cdue@uaex.edu, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller.

Don’t forget to shop local farmers markets to find your fresh beets and then try the following recipes to use both the beets and beet greens.

Sautéed Beet Greens with Garlic

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 bunches beet greens, chopped

 

Heat oil in large skillet and sauté garlic. Chop the greens roughly and add to the skillet, cooking until limp, about 5 minutes. Move to serving platter and serve warm.

Beet and Cabbage Slaw

2 medium beets, trimmed, peeled and grated

4 cups cabbage, grated

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

 

Dressing:

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

5 tablespoons olive oil

 

Mix together vinegar, mustard and honey. Whisk in olive oil. Pour dressing over grated beets and cabbage, toss. Sprinkle walnuts on top.

By Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609
cdue@uaex.edu

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