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Unbeetable Holiday Recipes

Beets are a hot topic in the sports nutrition world, due to several studies noting potential performance benefits from consuming nitrates. Nitrates are a compound found naturally in all fruits and vegetables, but are particularly high in beets. Interestingly, preliminary studies with both recreational and endurance athletes have shown improved muscle efficiency and increased time to exhaustion when beet juice was consumed. Besides performance benefits, it has been demonstrated that consuming beets has an ability to acutely decrease blood pressure, possibly due to the vasodilating effects of nitrates.

While the above-mentioned performance and health benefits need to be confirmed by further research, it has been proven that beets can add vibrant color to your holiday dishes. If you don’t believe me, check out the recipes below ;)


Roasted Beet Hummus

Not only is this recipe absolutely delicious, it can add an amazing pop of color and nutrition to the appetizer table. In addition to the health benefits of beets, the tahini and olive oil offer healthy fats, while the chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are a good source of fiber.

Plus, this recipe is super simple. Since it keeps for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, you can prep it days ahead of time to alleviate some of that holiday stress. While I paired the hummus with pita chips, it goes equally well with assorted veggies, such as carrot and celery sticks. An added bonus - if you mash the beets by hand, it can count as your workout for the day (just kidding!).

Beet Hummus

 Ingredients:

  • 1 medium beet
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice 
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Wrap the beet in foil with skin still on. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the beet can easily be pierced with a fork. Be sure the beet is cool before peeling and chopping.
  3. Place chopped beets and chickpeas in a food processor or blender and pulse until slightly combined, about 15 seconds. Add the garlic, tahini, olive oil, lime juice, and seasonings. Process/blend until the hummus is fully combined in a creamy.

Roasted Beet Hummus Nutrition Facts


Pro Tips:

  • Run beets under cold water or dunk in an ice bath to speed up the cooling process
  • Alternatively, cook and refrigerate the beets a day in advance, or use store bought, prepared beets.

Chopped Beet Salad

Chopped beets are an excellent addition to any holiday meal. In this recipe, roasted beets and an orange vinaigrette make for a sweet, but nutrient-dense duo.  If you’re a true beet lover, this dish can act as a stand-alone side. If you’re feeling conservative, try it as a salad topper!

Chopped Beet Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium beets, roasted, approximately 1 cup chopped
  • 1 orange, juiced, approximately ¼ cup
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 pinch of salt & pepper, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted pistachios, crushed or chopped

Instructions:

  1. Combine orange juice, vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Whisk until well combined. Drizzle the vinaigrette over beets and toss until covered.
  2. Top the mixture with pistachios and mint.

Chopped Beet Salad Nutrition Facts


Red Velvet Hot Chocolate

For dessert, try this eye-catching twist on a holiday classic (and sneak in an extra dose of veggies in the process)! As a chocolate fanatic, I was a bit skeptical on this one. As it turns out, this is my new go-to for a cold weather treat. Who would have thought that beets and chocolate would work so well together?

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk (feel free to substitute cow’s milk with dairy-free alternatives)
  • ½ medium beet cooked and grated, approximately ¼ cup packed
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3-6 pitted dates, chopped (adjust to desired sweetness)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • whipped cream, chocolate, and coconut flakes for topping (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Blend milk, grated beet, cocoa powder, dates, vanilla, and cinnamon in a high-speed blender until completely smooth
  2. Warm mixture in a small sauce pan over low-medium heat, whisking frequently
  3. Once warm, remove from heat and pour into 2 cups. Top with whipped cream, chocolate, and coconut flakes if desired.
Red Velvet Hot Chocolate Nutrition Facts

Resources

  1. “Sports Nutrition: A Practice Manual for Professionals,” 5th ed, Rosenbloom C. Chicago, IL. SCAN Dietetic Practice Group, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; 2012
  2. Eat Right Pro - Beetroot Consumption