If these winter months have you craving a bit of color on your plate, look no further than the humble beetroot…
It’s winter. It’s cold. We’re all dreaming of a vacation at this point and cursing the thermometer. Remember what a fresh strawberry tastes like? Yeah… me too. If these winter months have you craving a bit of color on your plate, look no further than the humble beetroot. Really! Root vegetables are ideal for the winter months because they’re the energy source of the plant, and our bodies crave this energy when they’re attempting to protect us from negative temperatures. But the beet isn’t just a feast for the stomach, these gorgeous veggies are a feast for the eyes (and they protect them, too, with plenty of antioxidants). Ready to learn more? Read on…
What is beetroot?
Beetroot, or beets, are native to parts of Asia, North Africa, and Europe, but now grow nearly world-wide. While other varieties certainly exist, like the yellow beet, it’s the deeply-pigmented purple beet that we’re most familiar with. Used in the Middle Ages to treat digestive disorders, fibre-rich beets have more recently experienced a surge in popularity (probably because people have finally figured out they’re delicious).
Benefits of beetroot:
Naturally rich in phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, beetroot boasts high levels of antioxidants called betalains, which could protect the body from disease and support immune function. Beet’s anti-inflammatory properties and measurable levels of magnesium could support muscle recovery and full-body wellbeing. Why is fighting inflammation important? While the body requires small levels of inflammation to protect itself from viruses and disease, too much can lead to a host of issues, including, well… susceptibility to viruses and disease! Along with inflammation-fighting powers, beets contain betacyanin, which acts similarly to anthocyanins, supports the body’s ability to produce collagen.
Fun fact: many of us have experienced certain… side effects from eating beets, this is due to the color compound betanin. Betanin can not be broken down by the body, so it passes through unchanged… causing panic, but no ill effects, in its wake.
How to use beetroot:
Beets are simple to use and super versatile. I recommend always buying beetroot with their tops still on – think of it as a two-for-one deal! You get the beetroot and their super nutritious tops (which can be steamed, sauteed, added to smoothies, or chopped raw and mixed into salads). Beetroot is delicious raw, roasted with other root veggies, blended into smoothies (try this one), or even pickled or fermented (try our recipe for beet kvass!). They’re so much more than the canned beets you see on grocery store shelves – pick up a bunch the next time you’re at the market and start experimenting!
DIY Beetroot Powder
1 small bunch of beets with tops
Baking sheet (or two)
Mortar & pestle, blender, or food processor
Note: Because of baking/drying time, it’s recommended to do this project in the morning.
Method: Preheat oven to 100˚f. Trim the beet greens and set aside (you can use them in salad or steam them later for dinner – yum!). Wash and peel the beetroot and pat dry with a clean cloth. Use the knife to thinly slice the beetroot into even slices. Arrange slices on the baking sheet in 1 layer (you may need more than one baking sheet). Slide the baking sheet into the oven and allow to bake, checking occasionally, until beetroot slices are completely dehydrated (this process will take several hours, be sure to check in frequently).
Once done, remove from the oven and allow to dry. Use a mortar & pestle, blender, or food processor to grind the beet slices into a fine powder. Store in a sealed jar, in a cool, dry place away from any moisture.
How to use your beetroot powder:
+ More Wellness Encyclopedia posts.