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How to Buy and Store Beets

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Naturally sweet and incredibly nutritious, this versatile veggie makes a beautiful and healthful addition to your diet.

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Look for smooth, hard beets with undamaged skins; soft or shriveled spots could indicate an older root that’s lost some moisture. Smaller beets are more tender and cook faster than larger ones; those wider than 2½ inches in diameter tend to have tough, woody cores. Unwashed beets will keep in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for two to four weeks.

Go for Green

When buying beets with greens attached, choose beets whose greens are crisp and dark in color. To prevent moisture drainage from the root, remove the greens by cutting through the stem about 2 inches above the bulb. The extra stem will help the beet retain nutrients and color during cooking. Refrigerate greens separately in a plastic bag for two to four days, and use them as you would other leafy greens: sautéed with garlic, wilted into hot soup, or processed into a pesto (see our template at “Anything Pesto”).

Don’t Miss a Beet

Beets come in a range of hues, including the familiar deep red as well as purple, golden, and striped varieties. If you’re put off by red beets’ hallmark earthy flavor, you might prefer the sweeter golden beets. All types are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, as well as folate, vitamin C, potassium, and iron. They also deliver a dose of nitrates, which studies show may improve cardiorespiratory endurance, making beet juice a popular preworkout beverage.

Cook — or Not

Roast beets to intensify their naturally sweet flavor and to make them easier to peel. You can rub the skin off roasted beets using a paper towel or while wearing a pair of gloves to avoid staining your hands. Enjoy cubed roasted beets on their own or pickle them after cooking to add to grain bowls and sandwiches. Small beets can be grated raw to add a crunchy, slightly bitter note to salads or slaws.

This originally appeared as “Beets” in the November 2020 print issue of Experience Life.

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Health & Fitness

Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

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DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly oil a 9-x-13-inch baking dish.

In a 2-quart pot, bring the vegetable stock and lentils to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook until the lentils are tender but not falling apart, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and reserve the stock. Measure the stock and add water, if needed, to make a 1/2 cup.

While the lentils are cooking, place the parsnips in a second large pot and cover with water by an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the parsnips are tender when pierced, about 10 minutes. Drain, then place the parsnips in a food processor. Purée until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the nondairy milk, 1 tablespoon avocado oil, and 1 teaspoon salt, and purée to mix.

In a large skillet, warm the remaining avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to sizzle, about two minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the mushrooms, carrots, and remaining salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are shrunken and browned and other veggies are tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the thyme, sage, pepper, flour, and tomato paste. Stir until combined, then add the reserved stock from the lentils and bring to a low boil. Cook for about two minutes, then turn off the heat. Stir in the peas and cooked lentils, then scrape the mixture into the baking dish and smooth the top.

Spread the parsnip purée over the lentil mixture. Sprinkle with the paprika.

Bake until lightly browned and bubbling, about 35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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