I love the beets, especially roasted in olive oil, salt and pepper, but I didn't always. I don't completely remember when I DID start liking them, but I'm sure I wasn't as old as my kids were when they started down their path to appreciation. (Translation: I made it a point of introducing beets to my kiddos early.)
When cooked until soft - or finely grated and served raw - beets can be introduced to your baby between 8 and 10 months of age (there is very little risk for allergy with beets, but you should always check with your pediatrician if you're concerned).
Packed with essential nutrients, beets are an excellent source of fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C, which means can they have beneficial effects on heart health (primarily through reduced blood pressure) and enhanced physical performance (through higher levels of nitrates).
With that said, beets also contain FODMAPs (in the form of fructans - short chain carbohydrates that feed gut bacteria) and this can lead to uncomfortable bloating for some people. Beet greens also contain high levels of oxalates (there is some in the root as well) which can lead to kidney stones and interfere with micronutrient absorption if consumed in high levels. Don't be surprised if your little one's poop and pee turn a little a little red ... that's totally normal!
If you've already begun the joy of starting solid foods with your kids and are ready to move on to additional foods, here are some ways you can introduce beets to your toddlers (maybe even your big kids too).
Roasting brings out the natural sweetness. To roast, wash and scrub beets and place them in foil packets, drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper in a 400 degree oven until tender when pierced with a knife (about an hour, depending on size). Once cool enough to handle, pop them out of their skins (a vegetable peeler works well, if they don't just peel).
Diced or sliced, roasted can be eaten as they are, but I love adding them to a salad or mixing with diced avocado and drizzled with a bright lemony-mustard dressing and chopped cilantro (this version from Gwenyth Paltrow's It's All Good is divine).
Roasted beets are also delicious paired with citrus, so try slicing oranges and/or grapefruits to add to the salad mix.
This pasta is absolutely gorgeous. And delicious. And you can use the beet greens as well as the roasted beets.
Raw, grated beets can be mixed with carros to make a beautiful version of slaw (you might even try mixing some green cabbage in there, too!), Sautéed lightly or kept raw, grated beets could also be added to cooked grains and, if you're so inclined, with some feta or goat cheese.
Pureed with chickpeas (and tahini) or greek yogurt, roasted beets make a healthy, and beautiful, dip for veggies or crackers. Pair with other forms of hummus and encourage your kids to compare their flavors!
What's YOUR favorite way to serve beets? Tag your pics @kizingokids #whykizingo for a chance to be featured!