Not only are beets beautiful (their colors range from intense claret to bright gold, to candy cane stripes) they also have a wonderful texture and an earthy, nutty flavor. Beetroot can even be turned into a wine that tastes similar to port! The beet is a taproot, which is the central, main root from which other smaller roots sprout from. Carrots, parsnips, and turnips are other examples of taproots.
An ancient text written in 800 B.C. describes that there were beets growing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven World Wonders.
When selecting fresh beets, choose small- to medium-sized globes. Smaller beets will be more tender and tastier than the larger ones. The globes should also be round and firm.
Before storing, trim the greens off the beets, but leave 1 to 2 inches of the stem.
Beets will keep for up to 10 days when refrigerated, but they should be thrown away when they turn soft.
Beet juice can be used as hair dye, and has been used as such throughout history. But note that it washes out of hair pretty quickly!
Beets are brimming with naturally occurring nitrates, and when you eat or drink them, a chain reaction occurs in your body that converts these nitrates into nitric oxide (NO) – a molecule that improves oxygen and blood flow throughout your body.
The deep pigmentation in beets quite literally translates into the vegetable’s health value. The intense color comes from a phytonutrient called betalain. Betalains have great antioxidant, detoxification and anti-inflammatory properties.
Beets should be cooked whole and unpeeled; you should also be sure to trim the stem to 1 inch to minimize bleeding and flavor loss. Once they are tender from cooking they can be peeled and sliced or mashed and crushed.
For a more intense flavor, roast the beets. Being sure to cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil first to lessen your cleanup time.
While working with beets, your hands, countertops or cutting boards can be stained by the dark red vegetable. To prevent your hands from being stained, slip on a pair of latex gloves before going to work.
Independent studies have shown that beet juice increases athletic performance, and improves stamina and strength. It also allows the body to recuperate better from physical activity.
Beet juice also lowers blood pressure, purifies the blood, improves cardiovascular health, and reduces inflammation in the body.
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