Give Beets a Chance
Kelly Izdihar Crosby
Your first memory of eating beets may have been unpleasant. Those strange, blood-red slices were doused in vinegar, oil, and salt.
Despite their appearance and taste, your mother encouraged you to eat them as they were very good for you. Now, beets have finally squashed their reputation as a seemingly boring vegetable and have made an awesome comeback. They’ve joined the ranks of kale and cauliflower, becoming the latest and trendiest superfood.
Known commonly as beets, beetroot is the taproot portion of the beet plant. They are usually deep red in color but they also come in white and gold varieties. Beets are known for having an “earthy” taste, which could be the reason why kids turn away from this vegetable. They have a crunchy texture when eaten raw but are soft and buttery when cooked. They can be roasted in many dishes or served raw and cold in salads. Pickled beets are very popular around the world.
Beet soup, known as borsht, is common in Eastern European cuisine. In Indian cuisine, beets are often a chopped and sliced flavorful side dish. The leafy portion of the plant is also edible. The heart shaped leaves can be boiled and seasoned, with a taste similar to that of spinach. There are also sugar beets. These white conical shaped buds are high in sucralose and are used for 20 percent of the world’s sugar production.
The resurging popularity of this plant is due to its many amazing health and medicinal benefits. YaQutullah Ibraheem Muhammad, a registered dietician, says, “Beets are a great source of nutrients and essential vitamins such as calcium, iron, potassium, and fiber.” They also have magnesium which helps prevent high blood pressure.
Dr. Pina LoGiudice and Dr. Peter Bongiorno are naturopathic physicians and licensed acupuncturists based in New York City who say, “Many of our patients have mentioned that juicing beets will give them more energy for their day. Research is showing that this may be due to the ability of components in the juice to improve blood flow. Beetroot juice has been shown to help the body respond better to exercise, by balancing oxygen use and increasing stamina.” The red, bulbish veggie is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Beets have also been included in what is considered Tibb e Nabawi, or Prophetic medicine. Beetroot is considered excellent nutrition for weak patients. In a hadith related by Umm Al Mundhir, Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him [PBUH]) “came in to visit me, accompanied by Ali, when we had some ripening dates hung up. He began to eat, and Ali along with him, but Allah’s [God’s] Messenger said to Ali, ‘Stop, Ali, for you are still weak and recovering from your illness.’ I then prepared some beetroot and barley for them and the Prophet (PBUH) said, ‘Take some of this, Ali, for it will be more beneficial for you’” (Tirmidhi).
In another hadith, related by Sahl bin Saad, he says, “There was a woman amongst us who had a farm and she used to sow silq (beetroot) on the edges of the streams of her farm. On Fridays she used to pull out the silq from its roots and put the roots in a utensil. Then she would put a handful of powdered barley over it and cook it. The roots of the silq were a substitute for meat. After finishing the Jumuah [Friday prayer] prayer we used to greet her and she would give us that food which we would eat with our hands, and because of that meal, we used to look forward to Friday” (Bukhari).
There are many wonderful ways to prepare this versatile veggie. Muhammad says, “Beets are also a great low calorie, fat free food that can be part of healthy meals and snacks. Eat them cooked or added raw to salads and smoothies.” Try eating beets in unexpected ways, such as in a roasted beet hummus! It’s a quick and simple recipe, and the hot pink color of the creamy hummus adds more fun to snack time. For juicing fans, beets are a must-have for your diet. You can mix beetroot with clementines, grapefruits, and raspberries to create a sweet citrus treat. Or how about beet brownies? They contain half the fat of regular brownies but still have that delicious chocolate taste along with the added nutrients. It’s time for you to give beets a second chance. You definitely won’t be disappointed with this veggie on your plate.
Kelly Izdihar Crosby is a freelance writer and artist living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her website is www.kellycrosbydesign.com.