A: Beets are nutritious root vegetables, and their earthy, mildly sweet taste make them versatile ingredients for soups, salads, pickles and side dishes. Those who have only ever had sliced beets out of a can are really missing out.
One good way to preserve nutrition in beets is to cook them with their skins on. You may do this when you roast, boil or steam them. Doing this means you’ll lose less of the rich, red color, that indicates the presence of betacyanin, a powerful antioxidant. Beets are also rich in folate.
If the beets come with the greens attached, cut the greens off about an inch above the top of the beet. Rinse the beet off, then cook it in one of the above manners. When the beets are just tender, take them off the heat (or steam) and let them cool a bit. The peels will slip right off.
Those beet greens that are clipped off are more nutritious than the beet itself. These are high in vitamin A, plus have more potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamin B than the root. Cook them as you would spinach, by steaming or lightly cooking in water. Drain them well, then toss in a little olive oil and season them with a few drops of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
Beets also may be eaten raw — grated into salads or put through a juicer, for beet juice.
With this many uses, this really good-tasting root vegetable belongs in everyone’s shopping basket.