I ate beets for the first time about a year ago. I’ll be 32 years old in August. They’ve quickly become one of my favorite vegetables, and I’ve relied on their sweetness ever since I cut sugar out of my diet last year.
I think Brussels sprouts and beets are probably tied for the title of “the vegetable every kid loves to hate.” (I had Brussels sprouts for the first time about 6 years ago and have been eating them multiple times per week ever since!)
But why do some of the best vegetables get such a bad reputation among kids? Honestly, it’s probably due to adults not being familiar with the beet’s greatness.
Because as it turns out, beets have every reason to be a kid’s favorite vegetable. Who knows, they may become your favorite, too! So let’s get to work and meet the beet!
1 -- Beets are a Proper Superfood
What is a superfood, you ask? A superfood is a whole, nutrient dense food that contains many vitamins and is easily digested. Superfoods contain antioxidants, micro & macronutrients, and fiber. Beets delivers on all these accounts, for sure.
Eating beets ensures a healthy dose of B vitamins, iron, manganese, copper, magnesium, and potassium. Beets also contain betalains, a class of strong antioxidants that reduce free radicals and inflammation in the body.
Introduce your kiddos to the wonderful world of beets by serving veggie sticks with this deliciously pink Beet Hummus.
If your kids already have a sweet tooth, chances are they will love beets! Beets are naturally sweet and much more nutritious than many sugar-laden processed foods.
2 -- Beets Help Aid Digestion
Have a kid who struggles with regular elimination? Beets to the rescue! One cup of beets contains 4 grams of fiber. Much of that is insoluble fiber, which is the type your body doesn’t absorb but rather helps with regular bowel movements.
So, whether your child already has regular bowel movements or suffers from constipation, you are only helping their digestive system by encouraging beets. Good health begins in the gut, they say!
Starting the day with a hearty breakfast is important for metabolism and also to help the gut start moving! You and your kids will love these filling and delicious Beet, Apple, and Walnut Breakfast Muffins.
3 -- Beets Contain Iron
Kids and adults need healthy amounts of iron in the diet in order to make new blood cells in order to carry oxygen to different parts of the body.
There are two types of iron, heme-iron (found in animal products) and non-heme iron (found in beets, grains, legumes). The iron in beets is best absorbed when eaten with Vitamin C or sources of heme-iron.
Anemia can be a consequence of not enough iron in the diet, especially among picky eaters or vegetarians. "Beet" anemia with beets!
A favorite treat (perfect for summer!) that delivers the iron-richness of beets as well as the necessary Vitamin C are the Beet, Berry, Coconut Smoothie Popsicles. Make sure you make enough for the whole family, because you’re going to love these refreshing treats as well!
4 -- Beyond Health: Beets are a Sensory Experience
The health benefits of beets are indisputable. But let’s be honest, your kids really don’t care about the health benefits of vegetables. The beautiful ruby hue of beets make for a unique sensory experience.
Imagine your child’s excitement when you serve a dish of pink spaghetti.
Or, help your toddler learn her colors by allowing her to dive fingers first into some beet spirals.
Beet Pesto Pasta Recipe
To make a beet pesto pasta, blend 1.5 lbs pounds of roasted beets in a food processor with 5 cloves of garlic, ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup pine nuts, ½ cup Parmesan cheese and salt + pepper to taste. Serve over spaghetti or other fun pasta shape of your child’s choice!
DIY Beet-Colored Play-Dough Recipe
You can make homemade play dough colored with beet juice or use the beet root to make a homemade stamp (while you’re snacking on the greens).
Boil 2 cups water and 1 cup shredded beats. Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain and save the colored water. Return the water to clean saucepan.
Mix 1 cup flour, ½ cup salt, and 2 teaspoons cream of tartar in a medium bowl.
Add dry mixture to colored water. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir until all ingredients are well blended.
Cook over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes or until the dough pulls from the sides of the pan.
Let cool slightly, then knead for 1-2 minutes.
Store in an airtight container.
5 -- The After Effects of Beets are...Entertaining
If you’ve ever enjoyed a hearty serving of beets, chances are you’ve been, well, reminded of those beets over the next few days during your bathroom time.
Thanks to the betanin pigment within beets, many beet consumers will go on to experience red or pink-tinged urine or stool. While this can initially be alarming, it’s completely harmless!
If your kiddo are as obsessed with bathroom humor as most young folks, chances are they will love discovering their “festive” elimination patterns. This also serves as a great opportunity to teach kids about digestion and basic anatomy.
There you have it! Here are the top 5 (of many!) reasons why beets should make a regular appearance on your children’s plates. And for those beet skeptics who need an easy entry, here’s a sweet beet treat from our friends at The Nourished Seedling: Chocolate Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes.
About the Author
Amanda Guarniere is a wife, nurse practitioner, blogger, and mom of 2-year-old twin girls. She’s passionate about empowering moms to raise healthy families through eating real, whole, unprocessed foods.