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With their bright and vibrant colored root bulbs and deep green stems, beets are hard to miss at farmers markets in the fall.

Though beets are undeniably one of falls most beautiful vegetables, not all individuals love the distinct earthy taste they boast. Beets contain a substance called geosmin which is responsible for that either loved or loathed sweet, earthy flavor. Geosmin is an organic compound responsible for the earthy scent you may have experienced after a rainfall or when soil is disturbed during the spring planting season.

Beets are also a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains, which are responsible for their beautiful range of vibrant red to yellow hues. Intake of betalains may reduce inflammation and the risk of heart disease. Additionally, beets are a great source of fiber which helps keep you full, supports a healthy digestive system, and supports your heart health.

Beet nutrition doesn’t stop at the beet root: The green stems are edible as well! Beet greens are similar to Swiss chard in flavor but can be used in place of any green in most recipes. Try swapping beet greens in place of spinach, Swiss chard, or bok choy in stir fry, soups or as a sautéed green side dish. Beet greens are rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and calcium.

Beets can be prepared a number of different ways: boiled, pickled, roasted, or even juiced. Prior to any preparation, wash the beet roots well to remove any dirt. The outer skin of beets is typically tender enough that you don’t need to peel it off prior to preparing. If you do wish to remove the skin, roast or boil your cleaned beets first. After they have cooled you can easily peel off the outer skin if desired.

The juice from red beets can stain your fingers, clothes, and cutting board. Wearing gloves and taking caution to protect your clothing can help prevent stains on yourself. To remove beet stains from your cutting board you can use a mixture of salt or baking soda and lemon juice to scrub free the stain.

Roasted beet hummus

Ingredients

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

8 oz roasted beets, coarsely chopped

¼ cup tahini

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup lemon juice

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1 clove garlic

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp salt

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Puree until smooth, approximately 203 minutes. Serve with veggies or pita chips.

Nutrition information (serving size: ¼ cup): Calories 133, fat 10 g, saturated fat 1 g, sodium 190 mg, carbohydrate 10 g, fiber 2g, protein 3 g

Brown sugar-glazed beets

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3 cups steamed beets, cubed ½ to 1 inch cubes

Directions

Combine brown sugar, orange juice butter, salt, and pepper in a large nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until the sugar and butter are melted and bubbling. Stir in the beets and cook until most liquid has evaporated and beets are coated well. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information (serving size: ½ cup): Calories 74, fat 2g, saturated fat 1 g, sodium 164 mg, carbohydrate 14 g, fiber 2g, protein 2 g

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Tori Erickson is a registered dietitian at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse

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