The Beet Goes On

By Natalie R.Toney M.F.A.,C.H.,
Healthy Planet Food Editor 

February may be short on days of the month, however it’s full of occasions to prepare, share, and savor fun finger foods with flair. Valentine’s Day is the Wednesday just after Superbowl Sunday, and Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday bridges the festivities together this year. Ash Wednesday is also the 14th. Hosting at home, or venturing to a party with snacks in tow, beets will score flavor points as they dazzle with bright, brilliant hues of pink, ruby, purple, gold, and orange. It’s been said that the way to a person’s heart is through food, and what better way to show your love than with heart healthy food! Beet varieties are brimming with benefits such as vitamins A, C, B6, iron, folate, fiber, and manganese, lending themselves perfectly to this time of year for snacks and desserts (soups and entrees, too!).Roasted Beet Hummus is a crowd favorite that blends the rich, red color and robust characteristics of beets, with the ingredients and creaminess of the traditional. Want to treat yourself, or another loved one with chocolate on Valentine’s Day? Chocolate Beet Brownies are so divine they would even give Cupid a run for his money. Pair with Dark Cherry Compote, and you have a winning dream team. Whether going to watch the big game, reveling in the last days of Mardi Gras, enjoying a cozy Valentine’s in, or commemorating them all, beets just can’t be beat!

Tips: To store fresh beets in the fridge prior to use, cut leaves first and wrap both beets and greens loosely. Do not wash until ready to prepare. For creamier hummus, freeze chickpeas a day ahead after removing skins (soak 15 oz. Chickpeas in hot water with 1 teaspoon baking soda, rinse with cold water while removing away skins). You can also add 1-2 ice cubes while blending. If a fresh beet is too difficult to cut, roast with peel on, in aluminum foil in an oven at 400 degrees for 75-90 min. Otherwise, remove peel and cut into wedges, slices, or strips and drizzle with oil, then cook on a sheet pan at 400 degrees for 25-45 min., flipping beets halfway through. For “beet fries”, keep peeling on for crispier results. Roasting beets before pureeing imbues the deepest color for any dish, including brownies. Beet brownies will continue to bake after they come out of the oven, and firm up as they cool. Overbaking results in a loss of color and burnt flavor. For cake-like brownies (or muffins) use eggs, substitute with flax seed gel for a chewier, fudge-like texture. Butter gives a much richer flavor than oil (I often do half of each). Honey is slightly sweeter and thicker than maple syrup, this can alter the taste and consistency slightly. To remove pits from fresh cherries, use a cherry pitter, or straw. Remove compote just before it reaches desired consistency, as it will continue to thicken as it cools.

Roasted Beet Hummus:

  • 2 med. Beets (or 2 cans)
  • 2 cans Chickpea 
  • 1/4 cup Chickpea liquid
  • 1/2 cup Tahini
  • 4 Tbsp. Lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Olive or Avocado oil
  • 1-2   Cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teas. Sea or kosher salt
  • 1/4 teas. White pepper(opt.)
  • 1/2 teas. Cumin (opt.)
  • 1/2 teas. Coriander (opt.)


Pour chickpea liquid, lemon juice, oil, tahini, beets, chickpeas, and garlic in a food processor, or blender. Run for a minute or so, then add salt, pepper, and other seasonings and blend for another minute. (While mixing, add in ice cubes if desired for creamier, fluffier consistency. Add another after the first is fully blended in, if needed.) Continue to blend to desired texture. Transfer to serving dish, then garnish. Can keep in the refrigerator for 5 days. Freezing after preparation, not recommended.

Yields approx. 4 cups/16 servings. Adjust as needed.