Beets were first cultivated solely for their greens in Northern Africa before Northeastern Europeans began eating the actual root in the 1700s. Originally utilized for medicinal purposes, the root became a dietary staple because it was one of the only vegetables that grew throughout the winter. But the 1900s brought about an era of canned foods and, consequently, the birth of a beet hatin’ generation of Americans.
DROP THE BEET MISCONCEPTIONS
Tender baby beet greens are often enjoyed in salads, while mature greens can be quickly sautéed with olive oil and a little garlic (much like chard or spinach) for a savory side. The root is delicious when sliced thinly and baked into chips; shaved raw and tossed with quality olive oil; grated into a salad; sautéed, grilled or, my favorite: roasted.
Beets are nutritional powerhouses. The greens are a great source of vitamin A, calcium, fiber, and folate, while the root is high in vitamin C, potassium, and iron.
DID YOU KNOW
- In 1747, Berlin chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf discovered sucrose could be extracted from beets. Today, around 20% of the world’s sugar comes from sugar beets.
- Beets are a natural diuretic, thanks to their high potassium content which helps you excrete sodium (buh-bye bloat!).
- The substances tryptophan and betaine in beets promote feelings of well-being.
- Beetroot juice has been considered an aphrodisiac since Roman times. It contains high levels of boron, a trace mineral used in the production of sex hormones (estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone).
- The pink lemonade colorant comes from beet pigments.
A good starting point is this Black Bean & Beet Veggie Burger. It’s as satisfying as its beef counterpart (rigorous tests and approvals have been conducted on many a carnivore), is pleasantly spicy, and — here’s the kicker — while the beet color is undeniable, you won’t even taste the beets! Leftovers make a great lunch the next day and can be served on a bun or over a bed of leafy greens.
BLACK BEAN & BEET VEGGIE BURGER
- 1 pound can black beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup roasted beet
- 1 cup roasted sweet potato
- 2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon each (4 total): sriracha, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, mustard
- 1 teaspoon each (4 total): smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, onion powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups oatmeal
- ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
- ½ cup quinoa, brown rice, or any whole grain
- Sauté onion in pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add minced garlic and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
- Pulse roasted beet and sweet potato in food processor with black beans just until combined (i.e. still chunky; not pureed).
- Add in 2 teaspoons olive oil, garlic and onion, sauces, spices, and salt and pulse until incorporated.
- Transfer mixture from processor into large bowl to stir in oats, panko, and quinoa. Shape mixture into 3” patties (about ½“ thick).
- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties to pan and reduce heat to medium; cook 4 minutes (or until bottom edges are browned). Carefully turn patties over; cook 3 minutes (or until bottom edges are done).