Beets are low in calories, high in fiber and rich in iron. They are full of cancer-fighting beta-carotene and folic acid, which can help prevent congenital disabilities. Fresh beets are more nutritious and have less sugar and sodium than canned beets. The leafy greens of a beet plant are more nutritious than the roots, with twice the potassium, folic acid, calcium, and iron.
At farmers' markets and gourmet grocers, you'll most likely find golden, white, and striped beets, along with the red ones. Look for firm beets with fresh looking greens. Choosing a uniformly sized bunch will allow them to cook in the same amount of time. Small to medium-sized beets are generally more tender.
Leave an inch of stem attached to the root, and cut away the greens. Refrigerate the beets and greens in separate plastic bags. The beets will last at least a month, but you will need to use the greens within three to four days.
Preparing beets can be a bit messy. Roasting or steaming them with their skins on will help to keep the color from leaching out. The skins will slip off easily once cooked. To roast, trim both ends and drizzle with olive oil. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper and wrap in foil. Roast at 400° until tender, 45 to 60 minutes, depending on size. Allow to cool slightly, then rub off skins with a paper towel. Prepare beet greens as you would Swiss chard, sautéing the chopped stems and leaves in oil with minced garlic.
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