And the Beet Goes On!

Kids can be picky eaters, especially when it comes to trying new and nutritious foods like beets. Many parents don’t even consider serving certain foods thinking their kids will turn up their nose at them. Don’t underestimate this tiny, red root vegetable though. It’s packed full of energy-boosting, heart-healthy nutrients and makes a colorful addition to any dish. Go ahead and give beets a chance!

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Empower your Kids!
Teach them healthy eating habits at an early age like eating whole foods, whole grains, less processed, simple foods. If they want a bag of salty fried chips, tell them, “Healthy before Sweet, Can’t be BEET!” (See what we did there?) Have them eat an apple before indulging in a cookie. It’s not, “No!” It’s “Not now!” As they get older, they will be more conscientious of what foods are healthy and those that aren’t so healthy. Start developing healthy habits now!

Getting back to the Beet, trying new foods is another great habit to develop in your child(ren). Even the pickiest eater will try a new dish if you “hide” the ingredients with crafty recipes and food displays. Let’s talk about some of ways we can get beets into your next family meal.

UnBEETably Delicious
Here’s how to make the most of beets’ health benefits:

1. Cooked: Roasting beets with the skins on preserve their nutrients and bring out their sweet side (which your kids will thank you for!). Don’t forget the antioxidant-rich edible leave and stems: sauté with minced garlic and olive oil until wilted and tender. You can also use beet greens for stir-fries!

2. Juiced: Because these veggies are so nutrient-dense, a little goes a long way. For a healthy juice blend, combine one or two small beets with carrots and/or apples.

3. Raw: Grated beets add crunch to a salad, as does a sprinkling of their chopped stems. Round out the bowl with walnuts and a little bit or Parmesan or goat cheese to compliment beets’ zingy flavor. Try golden beets for a milder flavor.

How to Buy
Beets are available year-round, but winter is the prime time for baby beets, which are sweeter and tenderer than mature ones. They should be heavy for their size and firm, without any nicks or cuts and smooth, firm roots. If the greens are still attached, they should be brightly colored and fresh looking.

How to Store
Because the greens suck moisture from the root, you should remove greens from the roots before storing. Leave about 1 inch of stem attached (this helps prevent loss of nutrients/color during cooking). Store in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 3 weeks; greens should be used within a few days.

Eating Beets with Kids

A Bevy of Benefits
Beets serve up many important nutrients including folate (1 cup contains 34% of your daily dose), as well as vitamins C and K, fiber, and iron. They’re also a good source of betaines and betalains, compounds that can help reduce inflammation and keep your liver healthy.

Busting the Sugar Myth
Beets aren’t all that much higher in sugar (or carbs) than other vegetables. A single serving contains just 8 grams of sugar–about the amount in one large carrot.

Color Code
Yellow beets are rich in lutein, which is crucial to eye health (as do carrots!). Red beets get their color from betalains and are potent antioxidants.

Eating Beets with Kids

Energy Infusion
Looking for extra oomph? Try juices made with beets: They’re high in nitrates (not to be confused with that processed foods no-no, nitrites). Nitrates help the blood vessels expand, lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the muscles, which can boost energy. According to one report, athletes who drank beet juice were able to work out 16% longer. Have your kids try some beet juice before their next sports game and you’ll see a difference!

Beet Artificial Dyes
Beets can make a vibrant, colorful natural dye (it also stains clothes, so don’t wear white when handling beets!). With Easter just around the corner, try using beets to make natural colored dye for those Easter Eggs!

Have you tried a Beet recipe your kids love? Please share with us in the comments below or on Facebook!

Resources
How to Buy, Store, and Cook Beets, In Season In November – Bon Appétit
Better Homes and Gardens – Eating Healthy with Beets | September 2014 Issue

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