Our Favorite Beet Recipe - Athletic Food for Performance

When your training hard and continuous, what you eat matters. Everyone likes days where you throw nutrition to the wind and enjoy foods that are higher in fat, carbohydrates or salt, but if your prepping for an event or a big week on the bike, then you are going to want to be properly fueled with nutrient dense foods. Beets are one of those foods that are full of nutrients and low in calories. Beets provide benefits to athletic performance and overall health. So, lets highlight some of the major benefits of beets to performance and follow with one of our favorite beet recipes.

Improved heart and lung function - Nitric Oxide from beets increases blood flow to the muscles. Beets are high in Nitrates. The body turns nitrates into nitric oxide, which helps blood vessels to widen and become more flexible, leading to lower blood pressure. Beets are also high in potassium, a heart healthy nutrient.

Beets are rich in Folate (vitamin B9) - Folate helps cells grow, repair and function. With exercise, recovery is a key component. Hard days on the bike or the run will leave muscle fibers and cells damaged. Consuming a diet rich in vitamins like B9 will aid in the recovery process. 

 

Beets are high in fiber - Diets with the appropriate amount of fiber are good for the gut and and promote healthy digestion. Because beets are high in fiber, some athletes will use beet juice during competition to get the vitamin benefits without the fiber.

While beets are a great food source, they are not the only good food source. Lean proteins, leafy veggies like spinach and kale and healthy carbohydrates like potatoes, fruits and rice and more are all important parts of your diet. Eating a balanced diet is key. To help with diet further, consult a dietitian or a sport dietitian to help you dial in your nutrition needs.

Balsamic Roasted Beet Salad - Ina Garten, Food Network

Cooking time - 1:20 - This includes cooling time

Yields - 6 Servings

Ingredients:

8 medium-size beets, tops removed and scrubbed

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup good olive oil

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, such as Grey Poupon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces baby arugula

1/3 cup roasted, salted Marcona almonds, toasted

4 ounces soft goat cheese, such as Montrachet, crumbled

Directions:

1 - Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

 

2 - Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them for 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size, until a small sharp knife inserted in the middle indicates that they are tender. Unwrap each beet and set aside for 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Peel the beets with a small, sharp knife over a piece of parchment paper to prevent staining your cutting board.

 

3 - Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and set aside. While the beets are still warm, cut each one in half and then each half into 4 to 6 wedges and place them in a large mixing bowl. As you're cutting the beets, toss them with half of the vinaigrette (warm beets absorb more vinaigrette), 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Taste for seasonings. Tip - Make a balsamic reduction to top the beats.

 

4 - Place the arugula in a separate bowl and toss it with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Put the arugula on a serving platter and then arrange the beets, almonds, and goat cheese on top. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette, if desired, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve warm or at room temperature.