It’s fun to try new foods with kids; you can’t always predict their reactions. One day they will only eat a few foods, rejecting everything new. The next day they might discover something new to add to their favorites list. Have you thought about trying beets? They’re full of color, flavor and nutrients. The natural antioxidants in beets and other fruits and vegetables help keep bodies working at their best. Trying new foods and/or old foods in new ways, helps expand the variety of nutrients you eat. Beets are low in sodium and calories, and fat free. They are a good source of folate and Vitamin C and are high in fiber. Wow what a package!
Choosing Fresh Beets
Choose fresh beets that have smooth skins. The leaves are edible, so make sure they are not wilted, if they are still attached.
Beet greens should be used as soon as possible or within a few days. Store beet greens in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Beets that have their leaves removed can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Cooking Fresh Beets:
Fresh beats can be boiled, baked, roasted, microwaved or steamed. Scrub gently and rinse. Leave on 1 inch of stems and the root. Do not cut or peel beets if cooking in liquid. If cut, the beets will “bleed” red juice and nutrients into the cooking liquid. Peel and trim after cooking.Use paper towels or gloves to keep hands from staining.
- Boil – Simmer 20-40 minutes, or until tender.
- Bake – Wrap in foil, bake@350 F for 1 1/2- 2 hrs, or until tender.
- Microwave- Put 1 pound whole beets in a microwaveable dish with ¼ cup liquid. Cover and cook 10-12 min, or until tender.
Choosing Canned Beets:
Choose canned beets with little to no sodium (salt) added. Canned beets are available in a variety of shapes such as sliced, and julienne.
Because of their mild flavor and intense color, adding beets to favorite foods can be pretty easy for adventurous kids. Beets can make foods more fun and nutritious. If you don’t have time to cook up a bunch of fresh beets, open a can of beets and let the kids have fun. A little beet juice in a favorite fruit smoothie recipe is like having a bottle of natural food coloring. Get children in on the discussion of the importance of eating a variety of healthy foods. Ask the kids to come up with as many ideas as possible of ways to put beets into some of their favorite dishes. Then try the top two ideas. (Suggestions: Add ½ cup mashed beets into any cupcake, pancake or muffin recipe. Add julienne beets to a favorite salad, soup or meatloaf recipe.)