The concept of nose-to-tail eating isn’t a new one, however it is not something practiced enough. Probably due to the lack of knowledge many of us have in regard to what can and can’t be eaten. Furthermore the underlying reliance on the retailers to know better, has left us in a position where we are discarding perfectly good food. Beetroots are an under-utilised and under-valued vegetable. Beetroot greens should be on all of our food-waste radars.
Typically we’ll only ever encounter beetroots vacuum packed, ready boiled or pickled. Leaves and stalks don’t even come into the equation. As a result of ready-prepped beetroots I had been guilty of thinking “If it only comes pre-packaged, then there must be something about it that means I can’t eat it raw and the retailed know best”. Of course this is a grave misconception, but a misconception held by many. You can eat beetroots raw, they’re great.
As a consequence of the dominance of ready-prepped and topped raw beetroots, the leaves and stems have been overlooked as a food source. In fact beetroots greens lend themselves to an array of dishes. A relative of rainbow chard, sweeter than kale and similar to spinach, they can go into salads and stir-fries, be sauteed in butter to go into risottos or stemmed in stews. They’re tasty and offer a striking visual vibrancy that no other salad leaf or stem can offer.
Not only are there the visual, taste and waste benefits of beetroot greens, there are nutritional benefits too. Beetroot greens are packed with antioxidants, nutrients, protein and fibre whilst also being low in fat and cholesterol.
In terms of vitamins, they’re high in vitamins K, A and C;
- K which is great for bone health and best known for blood clotting properties which is good for osteoporosis
- A (the caroteniod type found in plants) has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Better yet beet greens are a great source of luetin which plays an important role in eye health
- C aids collagen production and recent research indicates positive affects on brain health
In terms of minerals:
- Potassium – is an electrolyte and beet greens are one of the richest sources of the mineral, beating bananas. Important for kidney health and maintaining normal blood pressure
- Manganese – helps control blood sugar levels during gluconeogensis which is the conversion of acids (amino and organic) into sugars
- Copper – essential for building strong tissue, energy support and is a key component in one of the major antioxidant enzymes in the body, superoxide dismutase
As with anything, remember balance is key and bulking up on just one thing is never a good idea. Surpluses can be as bad as deficiencies. If you want to know more about the health benefits check out the references section with information on where I get my information from.
Meal IdeasJust like chard, beetroot greens lend themselves to a host of dishes.
- Spinach, beetroot greens, beans and goats cheese salad
- Raw beetroot carpaccio, beetroot greens, nasturtiums, sweet corn salad
- Sweet potato and beetroot green risotto
- Fish, new potatoes and sauteed beetroot greens
- Stir fry
- Feta and beetroot green salad
A campaign for Beetroot Greens in the making?
So next steps are finding out what actually happens to beetroot leaves. Obviously seeing them available is the best case scenario. But if retailers are going to keep on chopping off the greens, the least they could be doing is mixing these in with other pre-package salads.
If you’re lucky enough to either be growing beetroot or able to source beetroot with the leaves still in tack, be sure to get them. Ultimately the eradication of waste is key, and beetroot greens seem like one easy step toward that. Do you agree?
If you do, please share this and get in touch. Together we can build a more sustainable food model, built up on common-sense and the eradication of needless waste.
Dr Mercola – Food Facts – http://foodfacts.mercola.com
Worlds Healthiest Foods – http://.whfoods.org