The best thing about in season fruits and vegetables is that they taste better now than any other time of the year. Do the planet and your taste buds a favor by preparing fresh, local produce that’s growing now in your area. Eating in season means more nutrients, better quality, vivid colors, and more varieties to choose from. So what are you waiting for!?

Beets are a top pick this time of year for their vibrant color, hardy flavor, and myriad of health benefits. These purple beauties promote optimal health with their phytonutrient compounds that may protect against heart disease and colon cancer. While other red vegetables get their vibrant color from anthocyanins; beets contain betalain antioxidant pigments. Betalain, in addition to Vitamin C and manganese, also benefit nerve tissue and eye health.  If that’s not enough reason to fill your basket up at the farmer’s market maybe their anti-inflammatory, detoxification, or fiber-rich properties will convince you!

Picking the perfect beet

Choose small or medium-sized beets whose roots are firm, smooth-skinned and deep in color. Avoid beets with spots, bruises or soft, wet areas.

Storage

Cut the majority of the greens and their stems from the beet roots, so they do not pull away moisture away from the root. Leave about two inches of the stem attached to prevent the roots from “bleeding.” Do not wash beets before storing. Place in a plastic bag and wrap the bag tightly around the beets, squeezing out as much of the air from the bag as possible, and place in refrigerator where they will keep for up to 3 weeks.

Store the unwashed greens in a separate plastic bag squeezing out as much of the air as possible. Place in refrigerator where they will keep fresh for about four days.

Preparing Beets

Cook beets with care to preserve the concentration of phytonutrients. A great option is to steam beets.

–       Fill the bottom of the steamer with 2 inches of water

–       Bring to a rapid boil

–       Add beets, cover, and steam for 15 minutes

–       Remove beets and transfer to a cutting board

–       Peel beets by rubbing the skin off with a paper towel

Add your favorite dressing, a dash of feta or goat cheese, and enjoy!