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Beets – You can’t “beet” them!

In September, I wrote an article on carb loading with sweet root vegetables. Since you can reference the information on how root vegetables can be added to your diet while training, today I will solely focus on one of my favorites… beets!

Beets are a root vegetable that are available all year long, but are best from June-October. And, I am all about eating foods that are in season! Although beets have a strong flavor and are an acquired taste for some, when they are cooked they mellow a bit and develop a sweet, earthly taste much like the mixture between a carrot and sweet potato. Don’t throw away the greens on top – you can juice them or sautée them with a little olive oil and sea salt and they are delicious.

Why should you eat beets?

Beets are a nutritional powerhouse and are high in the following nutrients:

  • Potassium 1 cup of beets contains approximately 520 mg of potassium, which is essential for kidney function, muscle contraction, and water and electrolyte balance- all necessary for an athlete!
  • Phosphorus– Phosphorus helps repair connective tissues and cells, form strong bones and teeth, and maintain proper PH balance. Think repairing after a tough workout and building muscle, endurance and overall strength!
  • Iron–  Eating foods high in iron helps prevent anemia. When we are training, there is more iron loss due to the natural damage repair process that goes along with training. The actual beetroot does contain iron, but the leaves contain even more iron than spinach!
  • Magnesium– Not only is magnesium crucial for boosting the immune system and for muscle and nerve function, but it also helps balance blood sugar fluctuations and blood pressure. Again, all essential for an athlete!!!

Beets also contain manganese, folic acid, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc, calcium, beta carotene and a whole host of other minerals!

So, how can you eat them?

I adore good old grilled beets but here are two other favorites of mine:

Arugula Salad with Grilled Beets and Butternut Squash

  • 4-6 beets
  • 2 cups butternut squash
  • Cracked hazelnuts (essential for the crunch and umph!)
  • Arugula (or other green such as spinach)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Balsamic vinegar

Directions: Peel and cut the beets into quarters and cut the butternut squash into cubes. Place both on baking trays, liberally dousing them with olive oil and sea salt. Grill at 350 degrees until cooked to your desired consistency. Place aside to cool.

Place arugula (or other lettuce) in a salad bowl then layer the beets and butternut squash on top. Sprinkle the hazelnuts on top and dress with a balsamic olive oil dressing.

The best thing about this salad is that there are always beets and butternut squash left over to store in the fridge to save for another day! When you are  training, you need all the time management tricks that you can get!!!

Raw Beet “Pasta” with Almond “Alfredo” Sauce

  • 2 beets
  • For “Alfredo” Sauce:
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 2 tbsps grated ginger
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons (to taste)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsps Nama Shoyu or Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids
  • 4 tsps sesame oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup water

Directions: Place garlic in food processor and chop well. Add the other remaining ingredients – except water – in the food processor. Slowly add water until the sauce reaches the consistency your desire and run until smooth. This sauce is terrific, not only on the “pasta” that you are preparing, but I also love using this as a dip for raw vegetables or even as a salad dressing.

With a mandolin or hand slicer, slice the beets into thick noodles and put the sauce on top. Delicious! Serve with a salad or a green juice and you have a complete meal!

Written by

Katherine Pennington is a diet and lifestyle coach, writer, and founder of Be in Balance, which helps women and men lose weight, reduce stress and achieve more balance in their lives. Katherine is also an avid runner and marathoner and also advises athletes on how to fuel for maximum performance and health.

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