Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Beets Just Can't be Beat

A few years ago I read about a Russian woman who lived to the ripe old age of 117! I had to wonder what she ate. Could her diet have included plenty of beets? After all, beets are a favorite in Russian cuisine, and they are known to contain many important health benefits. Beets date back as far as the second millennium BC where they were likely cultivated along the Mediterranean. They eventually spread to Babylonia, China and Europe. In 19th century Germany, they became commercially important due to the discovery that sucrose (sugar) could be extracted from them. Beets have a sweet, earthy flavor. They are delicious steamed, roasted, boiled, pickled, or grated raw into salads. They complement many dishes, including fruit. While available year round, beets reach their peak from June through October. When purchasing fresh beets, you will easily find the common purple variety, however, many stores do carry golden beets as well another pink and white variety called Chioggia. When available, make sure to buy the entire plant -— the root and greens. The leafy beet greens are full of good nutrition and are easy to cook. Add them to a soup or sauté them with onions and garlic in olive oil or butter. These beet and beet green ideas and recipes are meant to inspire you, but remember that purple beets will turn your recipe reddish in color and can stain hands and clothes, so proceed with an apron and a bit of caution. Got a favorite beet recipe that can’t be beat? I would love to know!