It's beet week! We're covering beets--growing, harvesting, recipes (with an option to skip the actual beet cooking process) and eating. Plus, how to reduce food waste and make delicious, highly useful, veggie stock. And in this week's food industry news, a European meat company goes entirely plant-based.
Can't Beet That!
Did you know that beets contain some of almost every vitamin your body needs? That's pretty impressive for a single vegetable. Beets also have a signature sweetness. This quality makes them delicious in salads with salty goat cheese or even in smoothies.
The reason beets are sweet is because they're built to spend the winter in the ground. While they "overwinter", beets need to keep from freezing as the earth freezes around them. To accomplish this, the mighty veggies produce more carbohydrate cells.
This increases the amount of solutes inside the vegetables compared to the dirt surrounding them. The result is that the beets stay slightly warmer than the earth and avoid freezing.
Beets are also high in nitrates. Several studies suggest that a diet rich in nitrates can help boost muscle recovery by improving the performance of the mitochondria in our cells. These nitrates may even boost oxygen use in the body by up to 20%--so eat up, endurance athletes!
Beets for eats
To be sure you're getting your fill of nitrates all year long, may we suggest our favorite method of preserving beets: pickling! Before you start, read our full how-to on quick pickling any veggie.
When it comes to cooking beets, the possibilities are endless. From sweet to savory, these gems are true culinary powerhouses.
One of our favorite beet recipes are Veggie Burgers with Smoky Shredded Beets and Avocado. Love Beets makes it super easy to eat your beets--they're pre-cooked, so there's no need to make what looks like a murder scene in your kitchen just for the sake of veggie burgers.
A few more delicious beet recipes:
- Berry Beet Cashew Cheesecake with Chocolate Acai Ganache (can you say superfoods??)
- Beet Harissa Hummus, which we love on a breakfast sandwich or as a dip for other veggies and crackers
- Chocolate Cherry Beet Popsicles
- Don't forget the beet greens--they're full of flavor and nutrients--try these Sautéed Beet Greens from Spend with Pennies
Food Waste Tip: When life gives you veggie scraps, make stock!
It's hard not to produce vegetable scraps, especially when you're cooking plant-based. From tough asparagus ends to beet greens, parts of many veggies are often left out of your final product.
Composting is one option to return these nutrient-rich plants back to the soil. Another great way to avoid wasting all those odds and ends is to turn them into a rich, flavorful vegetable broth.
It's helpful to save scraps in your freezer in reusable zip-top bags as you produce them. Eventually, you'll have enough to turn into stock.
To make the stock, add all your veggies to a large pot, cover with water, and add any additional flavorings like fresh herbs or garlic. Then bring everything to a simmer and let it simmer away for up to a couple of hours.
The stock becomes more flavorful as it simmers. Taste it as it cooks and once you're satisfied with the flavor, simply strain out the veggies . Now you've still got a healthy addition to your compost pile and veggie stock that has about a million uses in the kitchen--see below for some delicious green soups to try.
If you made more stock than you need right away, simply cool and store it in an airtight container in the freezer. To defrost, run your container under hot water until you can pour out as much broth as you need, and return the rest to the freezer.
Currently happening in the food industry
Homemade veggie burgers aren't the only burger recipes that call for beets. Many plant-based meat companies rely on the red pigment to mimic meat in their products.
Exciting news on the plant-based meat front this week comes from the Netherlands. Dutch food company Vivera Food Group, which has long produced meat, sold its meat division and announced a commitment to only selling plant-based products going forward.
This kind of bold move isn't new to Vivera. The company, which sells products in grocery stores across Europe, grabbed headlines in 2018 when it became the first company to sell a plant-based steak. This is the kind of business we applaud, and will continue to follow as they trailblaze a corporate path in plant-based eating.
In the press release announcing their commitment to plant-based brands, Vivera also pointed to the growing European market for vegan products. CEO Willem van Weede celebrated the fact that "plant-based foods are really conquering the world" We're with you, Willem, and hope to see some of those steaks hit American supermarkets soon!