I'd cook with beets every day if it wasn't for the mess! Sound familiar? If you're a beet lover, surely you know what I am talking about. If someone peeked into my kitchen the last time I made a beet salad, he or she would have called the cops after seeing all that red beet juice! It wasn't pretty.
But messiness is not a legitimate reason to avoid this amazing superfood - especially because you can buy beets that are already cooked, sliced, and ready for consumption. Plus, beets, which can be red, striped like a candy cane or golden in color, are loaded with antioxidant power. Their 18 vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, iron and B vitamins, help to prevent signs of aging, reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol.
In one cup of steamed beets, there are only 80 calories, zero grams of fat, four grams of protein, almost four grams of fiber and six grams of sugar. Some people worry about beets' sugar content, so let's put that sugar into perspective. One small apple has 15 grams of sugar - does that make you stop eating apples? Not all sugar is equally "bad." The sugar in beets and apples is certainly not the same as those found in soda and baked goods.
This week, your challenge is to use beets in three different ways ... and leave your kitchen sparkling clean when done!
Raspberry Beet Muffins
Beet puree is an excellent, natural substitute for fats in baked goods.
--2 cups all-purpose flour
--2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
--1 tablespoon baking powder
--1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
--1/2 teaspoon baking soda
--1/2 teaspoon salt
--1 teaspoon vanilla extract
--2 cups beet puree (boil beets until fork-tender and puree in food processor)
--1/2 cup low-fat milk
--1/2 cup raspberries
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add vanilla extract, beet puree and milk. Mix until batter is just moistened. Gently stir in raspberries. Spoon into 12, 2 1/2-inch muffin tin cups with liners.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until muffins are lightly browned and tops bounce back when pressed lightly.
Fizzy Beet Sunrise
The striking beet colors make for an exciting cocktail that is naturally oh, so sweet.
--1 ounce beet juice
--1 ounce vodka (optional)
--1/4 ounce orange juice, freshly squeezed
--2 ounces club soda
Combine beet juice, vodka and orange juice in a shaker with ice. Shake until icy cold. Strain into a martini glass, and top with club soda. Enjoy!
Chefs have used beets for centuries for their natural sweet goodness. Beet syrup can be drizzled over salads, used in cocktails or used in place of maple syrup in recipes.
--2 cups beet juice (store bought, or homemade with a juicer)
--1 teaspoon vanilla or cinnamon (optional)
Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Reduce juice to about 2/3 cup, or until it reaches syrup consistency and coats the back of a spoon. Let cool, and pour into a jar. Refrigerate until ready to use.
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Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City, and Nutritious Life Meals, a gourmet, healthy, daily diet delivery program available across the country. She is a member of Women's Health Magazine's advisory board and has authored Slim Calm Sexy Diet, The O2 Diet, and The Snack Factor Diet. Her fourth book, The New You and Improved Diet, will be released in December. Her expertise is regularly featured on the Today show, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood Live, among others, and she hosts "A Little Bit Better" on YouTube's Livestrong Woman channel. Read more of Keri's tips every day on Facebook!