Hard to Beet — The Greens!

beet and greenOne of my most favorite comfort foods is beets.  As a teen, chronically worried about my weight, one of my favorite snacks were beets.  I’d lay out slices of hot beet on a plate, spread a tiny bit of butter on each slice and then salt the whole plate.  Not a lot of calories, but lots of flavor. Just ignore that part about butter and salt; what can I say. . . I was young!

When I came to California I discovered beet greens.  Beets are good, the greens are phenomenal! They taste sort of like chard only not so bitter and still retain the flavor of the beets.  A huge plate of them (2 cooked cups) have less than 100 calories of which 25% are protein, 5% are fat, and most of the rest are carbs in the form of fiber. Sometimes I steam a big batch, sit down, squeeze a little lemon on them and chow down.  Evidently I am a throw back to my ancient ancestors who only ate the greens.beet greensI have to agree, the greens are the best part!  A plate of greens is quite simply satisfying!  Full of good stuff: Vitamins A and C, Potassium, Manganese and Calcium. Because they are loaded with fiber you feel full and the feeling stays with you.  For added benefit the greens are loaded with phytonutrients like Betainin and Vulgaxanthin. Theses phytonutrients are powerful antioxidants that help the body fight cancer.  They have great anti-inflammatory properties,  promote a healthy nervous system and help the body detox various poisons.

A nice thing about growing them, is that they are a “renewable” food source.  Cut the tops of for a meal and within days they grow back and are ready to cut again. The are absolutely  test when eaten straight out of the garden. But they are fine even when store bought.  Sometimes  during the winter I buy organic beets just because I am hungry for the greens.

I’m constantly surprised by the number of people who have never eaten the beet greens. Those who try them, universally love them. Of course, my test audience have been pre-screened for people who like beets, but that doesn’t negate the test.

The first question I get when I talk about beet greens is: How do you prepare them?

First you have to wash them carefully since they tend to hold on to sand and grit.  I actually take the time to  wash each leaf individually. When clean I dry them in my salad spinner.

Washed, drained beet greens can be eaten in lots of different ways.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Added to salads
  • Steamed – add butter (or olive oil) and salt and pepper
  • Steamed – add lemon juice
  • Steamed – add flaked red pepper
  • Steamed – top with yogurt and serve warm
  • Sautéed — with garlic and onions
  • Sautéed — with garlic and onions and sprinkle with  parmesan or asiago cheese
  • Any combination of the ingredients listed above: butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, flaked red pepper, garlic, onions, yogurt and parmesan or asiago cheese

Beet greens are a tasty, nutritious addition to anyone’s diet!

Oh, I should add a word of caution. If you eat a lot of beet greens, the next day you may find yourself eliminating in shades of red.  No, that is not blood in your urine or feces, it’s beet juice.

About Genene Cote

Genene Coté -- Nutrition Advocate, Counselor and Coach who is also a Whole Food Plant Based Eater (vegetarian/vegan), cook and gardener.
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