Expand palettes to include health beets

Published 11:30 am Thursday, August 9, 2012

I just pulled up the first of my golden yellow beets. I love trying new things and at my house, beets are an old time favorite. Even my son will eat them, provided they are cooked with lemon and honey. These yellow beets are mildly sweet compared to their stronger tasting cousin, however, red beets are still my favorite. Most of the time when I mention beets, people grimace and say “yuck.” But if you are at all health-conscious, it is time to expand your palette. Not only are beets a great boost to your physical well being and a wonderful source of iron, it has been shown to be an immunity booster and guard against cancer. Beets contain folic acid which is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells. This is especially important for pregnant woman or anyone undergoing physical healing.

It’s one thing getting an adult to try new things, but how do you get your children to try something like beets? I found a couple of unique ways you can prepare beets that may get your children to have a new favorite vegetable.

Creative Painted Veggie Pizza

Use play and creativity to get your kids to eat their beets by having them create a painted veggie pizza. To make Painted Veggie Pizza you will need two balls of pizza dough, olive oil, flour, two cups of shredded mozzarella cheese and vegetable paint. First, make the veggie paint by steaming one cup of beets. After steaming, process beets until smooth in a food processor or blender. Add 1/4 cup of water so that the mixture will have a paint-like consistency. You can make other colors of veggie paint as well. Good choices are spinach, orange tomatoes and yellow peppers. Make a big batch of each color veggie paint and freeze for later use.

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When you are ready to make your pizzas, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Divide each dough ball in half and flatten to make four small pizza crust canvases. If dough gets too sticky to work with, sprinkle with a small amount of flour. Now comes the fun part. Have kids paint their pizza crusts. I keep a supply of small food grade BBQ brushes on hand for this fun foodie project. Top each pizza with 1/2 cup of cheese and bake on an oiled baking sheet about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand five minutes before slicing.

Tasty Baked Beet Chips

Another fun way to get kids to eat beets is to turn them into a healthier version of fat laden potato chips. Beet chips are great because the natural sugars in the beets give them just the right amount of sweetness to tickle small taste buds without added sugar.

To make beet chips you will need four beets, scrubbed clean with peels left on, one tablespoon of olive oil and sea or kosher salt. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice beets thinly, about the size of a potato chip. Toss in a bowl with olive oil and salt. Spread beets in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Flip beet chips over halfway through cooking time. Make sure you keep a careful eye on them so they don’t burn. The longer you bake them, the crispier your beet chips will be.

This week at the market you can find red beets, green, white and red onions, cilantro, basil, russet and red potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and summer squash, green beans, melons, sweet corn and much more.

The Austin Area Farmers’ Market is open Thursdays, 3:30 to 6 p.m. downtown, Main Street, Mondays, 3:30 to 6 p.m. at the Oak Park Mall and Saturdays, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Oak Park Mall. We accept all major credit cards and EBT. EBT users, don’t forget the BCBS double your bucks program, for the first $5 you spend, you will receive $5 in matching bucks.