BFFs — Me & my Beets?!

Beets — love ’em or hate ’em? I grew up loathing this “earthy” vegetable.  I thought they tasted horrific, and that juice!! YUCK!  My mother used to routinely open a can of them and pour them onto salads.  I found it inconsiderate that she never remembered they “ruined” any salad they touched.  As the mother of eight, how could she have possibly kept a mental note of each child’s preferences and actually honored them?  Fast forward a few years, and in my house I simply cook for myself!  Hmmm, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?!  (For the record, I have one out of three boys who has actually chewed and swallowed at least one bite of each recipe that follows…)  Well, I am sure my dear mama is rolling over in her grave to hear me actually declare my new-found love of both beets and beet greens.  It’s true.  And I have since forgiven her for adulterating my salads with the nasty canned version of what I dare call a really tasty food!  Colorful too!  I had fun coming up with something other than salad as a partner for my new BFF of the veggie world. It was my goal to “get to know them” — all parts of them.  I started first with the greens, believe it or not. They are simply way too beautiful to discard. It turns out they are even more nutrient-rich than the root, which is what we commonly eat.  Beet greens are a great source of calcium as well as magnesium, potassium, iron and quite a few B vitamins.  The roots are rich in potassium, and all together beets are really potent cancer & heart disease-preventive.

So I hope you trust me on the these recipes. They are a bit shocking color-wise (particularly my Beet-Loaf) but that’s part of the fun.  My favorite thing to do with beets is make my “Can’t Beet This Pasta”, but if you make it with just the greens and want to use the rest in something different than a delicious salad with goat cheese, roasted beets and pecans (always a crowd-pleasing combo) … go for my meatloaf with a twist. (Mom made a lot of meatloaf when I was growing up, and I have to admit — I still love it!)  This version may be a good Halloween meal once you see the outcome! Here’s to my mama, who loved all food.  Enjoy!

Can’t Beet This Pasta!

by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

3-4 whole beets with greens

10 ounces penne or bowties (Barilla plus or whole grain pasta)

4 Tb. Olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled.

salt to taste

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

  1. Put water in a large pot and heat over med-high heat.
  2. Cut the stems & leaves off the beets. Rinse and chop stems into 1-inch chunks. Cut leaves.
  3. Peel the beets and cut into large chunks.  Add just the stems and leaves to water, lightly salt and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the beets and simmer about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Bring to a boil again, and add the penne or bowties. Boil for 8 minutes. Drain all in a colander.
  6. Transfer hot beets, greens & pasta to a large serving bowl. Crush the garlic over them. Add 1-2 Tb. Olive oil, stir and salt to taste.
  7. Toss with Parmesan cheese and remaining 2 Tb. olive oil if desired. Salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Beet/Meatloaf

by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

Don’t be frightened by the color on this. It’s actually quite delicious, particularly if served with homemade mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and a big arugula salad.

1/2 – 2 lbs. Grass-fed ground beef
1 large beet, peeled and chopped into very small chunks
2 eggs
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl combine all beef, eggs, ginger, garlic powder, salt & pepper until all evenly mixed.  Place in a glass loaf pan. Sprinkle top with Worcestershire sauce.   Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 20-30 minutes as desired. (Check to make sure it’s cooked in center.)  Remove from oven, let stand a few minutes before serving.
Other options include adding some chopped fresh parsley and onion.

About Susan Greeley
Helping others achieve optimal health through good nutrition and lifestyle, Susan Greeley promotes wellness through diets rich in healthy, wholesome foods. She counsels clients in her own private nutrition practice and works as the staff nutritionist for a YMCA.

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