For some unknown reasons, beets are one those vegetables that simply get overlooked in a lot of houses. But, it seems the winds of change for beets (and the whole family — chard, spinach and quinoa included) has swept through in a post-millennial gust and brought them back to the forefront.

Quinoa is renowned for its protein content, spinach for the iron, but what exactly is up with beets? Well, they are chalked full of phytonutrients, namely betalains, lutein and zeaxanthin, that have amazing health benefits. Studies link beets with reduce growth of tumor cells, powerful detoxing and aiding the digestive system.

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Beets also taste fantastic, with a natural sugar content only outdone by sugarcane. They have earthy overtones and the ability to round out dishes with distinctive bursts of flavor and color. Who knows why they’ve not been a more popular vegetable in previous decades, but it’s not too late for the unassuming root (and its greens) to make an impact on today’s dinner plate.

1. Do It Raw

Just Beet It! 8 Ways to Make Some Funky Beets

 

Grated raw beets, or thin slices, make a world of difference on a salad. They provide a flash of color and sweetness to an otherwise standard pile of greens. What’s more, they can be blended into raw soups or spiraled into raw noodles. Having them raw will help to ensure that all of those nutrients remain undamaged and prime for promoting good health.

2. Ready Roasted

Beet and Quinoa Veggie Burgers [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

 

 

Roasting beets enhances the sweetness as it brings out the sugars and gives them that delicious caramelized action. This can be done ahead of time—it takes about half an hour—and they can be stored for a while. Sliced and diced to make burgers (amazing texture), chutney, or simply tossed into a salad/pasta salad. Just a tip: Roast the beet with the skin on and then wrap an old towel (it will be stained) around it to easily peel the skin off.

3. Get Saucy

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Rather than using sugar to sweeten up sauces, beets can make for a healthy, natural substitute. It works well in homemade ketchups and salad dressing, which often benefit from a kick of sugar. For a real twist, have beets in a pasta sauce, such a raw marinara. There is a lot of room for experimenting here.

4. Pickles on the Side, Please

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Making pickles is a fun and simple culinary venture to get into, and without a doubt, the hardy beat is amongst the easiest and most rewarding avenues to take. The sweet earthiness combines magically with the zip of vinegar. Use organic apple cider vinegar for the health benefits, and eat them on the side of just about anything, atop soups or on burgers and sandwiches.

5. Grill ‘em Up

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Similar to roasting, grilling beets will help to bring out the sweetness and caramelize that sugar. In addition, it’ll add the smoky, fired flavor that screams barbecued goodness in our brain. Beets can be sliced and tossed on the grill for salads, skewered for kabobs, or simply grilled along side an assortment of sliced veggies for a delicious vegan plate.

6. Sweeties

Beetroot Cake [Vegan, Raw, Gluten-Free]

 

Some of us need no excuse to indulge in the dessert, while others are looking for a reason. Let that reason be beets. Beets for dessert: Got it give a taste, right? And, beets are healthy, right? They can work in raw layered ice cream cake. They also pair well with chocolate for cupcakes or even fudgy cakes. In the right circumstance, beets can even take center stage.

7. Smooth and Green

Awesome Green Monster Smoothies

 

Beets are a great ingredient to include in all those green juices with bitter leaves, as well as innovative health smoothies. Not only will the beets sweeten things up, but it’ll make the color a bit more vibrant as well as provide some thickness to the mixture. Try it with fruit. Do it with veggies. And, don’t forget to use the beet greens as an ingredient as well.

8. Powdered Beets?

Homemade Beet Powder for Beet Juice, Smoothies, Natural Make-Up and More [Vegan, Raw, Gluten-Free]

 

That’s right, powder beets are easy to make. Peel them, slice them into discs and dehydrate them overnight. The next morning there will be the option of snacking on beet chips (a ninth funky beet to enjoy) or blending them up to make a powder. The powder can be used to make beet juice. It can be thrown into smoothies, soups, and sauces. It can be applied as make-up — taking advantage of the rouge color — for those looking for natural make-up options.

Sure, there are more ways. There are always more ways. But, ain’t it grand to know that beets are just around the corner and can funk up a many a dish whenever we are ready. Now, a one, two … one, two, three.

Lead image source: Orange Beetroot Tartlets With Almond Fig Crust