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RealFood Recipes: Bashful, blushing beets

By H.K. Jones

RealFood Recipes is a weekly series featuring a great tasting and healthful food by nutritionist expert H.K. Jones, as well as an easy-to-make recipe using that food. Want to recommend a food and recipe for other RealJock readers? Send an email to

In the world of vegetables, beets are a bit bashful. People rarely serve them, they’re seldom mentioned, and they’re often overlooked in the supermarket. No longer! It’s time to bring beets into the spotlight of your kitchen.

Fresh beets are not only delightfully sweet (they’re naturally loaded with sugar), they’re also nutritious, versatile and easy to prepare. This red root vegetable is high in potassium, folate, and fiber, while the edible green leaves offer calcium, vitamins A and K, and carotenoids And the pigment that gives them their rich, purple-red color—betacyanin—is a powerful disease-fighting agent.

When shopping for beets look for small to medium-sized vegetables whose roots are firm, smooth-skinned with a healthy deep color. Avoid beets that have spots, bruises or shriveled skins. If the leaves are attached (and especially if you're planning to eat them), look for greens that appear crisp and tender. The roots should be stored in the refrigerator where they will keep for 2 to 3 weeks, while the greens should be stored separately in a plastic bag, where they will stay fresh for only around 4 days.

Beets can be eaten raw, boiled, steamed, roasted or sautéed. When preparing beets, a little kitchen savvy goes a long way. Beets are notorious for bleeding and blushing, so your best bet is to cook them whole and unpeeled. Once cooked, you can peel them (the skin of a cooked beet will slip right off), however, it's wise to use a paper towel or wear gloves to keep the beet juice from staining your hands.

Roasted Rosemary Beets
2 pounds of beets, unpeeled,
4 large fresh rosemary sprigs, plus additional sprigs for garnish
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place beets in roasting pan. Add 4 rosemary sprigs and enough water to barely cover beets. Cover pan tightly with foil. Roast beets until tender, about 50 minutes. Transfer beets to work surface. Peel while still warm; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Garnish with additional rosemary sprigs and serve.