The biggest mistake most people make when cooking beets happens before they even turn on the stove. And that mistake is getting their beets in a bag.
One of the most important benefits of beets, nutritionally and culinarily, is in their brilliant leafy tops. They’re actually best when just rinsed, steamed for 30 seconds and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
Researchers have used beet green juice as a food supplement for athletes. What they found was that cyclists were able to go further and faster before fatiguing after they had consumed beetroot juice. If you aren’t into juicing 40 pounds of beet greens into a shot glass of juice, try incorporating them in these ways:
- Add whole leaves to a blueberry smoothie
- Use beet leaves as wraps for pulled pork or pulled chicken
- Blend together goat’s cheese, feta cheese and beet greens for a bread spread
- Blend beet greens, olive oil, garlic and walnuts as a pesto drizzle for chicken
- Top pizza with a combination of chopped beet greens, chopped figs and blue cheese
The active ingredient in beets appears to be nitrates. Yep, the very same nitrates that you have heard are so awful in your deli meats and hot dogs. Most nitrates in your diet come from plants, especially dark leafy greens. The natural extract that is put into some deli meats comes from celery seeds high in nitrates so it just doesn’t make sense that this is the very thing that is causing so much trouble. You ate more of it in your salad before your sausage.
The answer may be what comes with those nitrates. Is it a high fat, high sodium processed food? Or a high nutrition, high fibre plant? In the end, it probably doesn’t matter. If you incorporate as many dark leafy greens as you can, a delicious deli meat sandwich is probably just fine. Simply serve up a side of colorful greens to go with it and call it even.
About the Author:
Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Private Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com