The Whole Beet

 

Beets are my favorite vegetable. They are earthy yet sweet, humble yet flamboyant. As author Tom Robbins says in the first paragraph of his book Jitterbug Perfume, “The beet is the most intense of vegetables…You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.” And as it turns out, beets are quite good for the blood. They are full of high quality iron, which detoxifies the body and helps carry oxygen in the blood. They are also high in the compound betaine, which stimulates and protects the liver and gallbladder–leading to better digestion and blood detoxification.
 
Both the root and the leaves of the beet plant are edible. This week, the greens are particularly attractive, so don’t just toss them in the compost or let them wilt in the fridge. They taste and cook up much like swiss chard (see recipe below).
 
My go-to preparation for beets is to slice them thinly (no need to peel ours since they are both tender and organic), toss in olive oil, spread on a cookie sheet, and roast at 400 degrees until softened and starting to caramelize on the edges–about 30 minutes. Eat as a side dish or on top of a salad with fresh goat cheese and toasted walnuts.