Is there any vegetable quite like the humble yet magnificent beetroot?
It grows underground, meekly hiding its brilliance, waiting to burst through the soil like a little bomb of vitamin C.
And it’s only once you’ve given it a scrub, a quick boil and finally pulled away the skin that its true beauty is revealed.
A bright purple gem, beetroot is truly delicious and versatile.
Dice them with chunks of goats cheese and a splash of balsamic for a fantastic salad.
Slice and arrange on toast for a great breakfast.
Whizz with chickpeas to make a far superior hummus.
Blend into soup with sour cream for the tastiest soup.
You can bake it into crisps or grate into cake mix for the moistest chocolate gateau.
Whatever you do, don’t overboil them into a soggy mess – let’s leave that kind of abuse back in the school canteens of the 1950s where they belong.
The possibilities with fresh, crisp beetroot, however, are endless.
Carrots come a close second (they’re good in salads, sandwiches and juices) but let’s be honest, eating a load of carrots every day just makes you feel like Bugs Bunny.
And no other vegetable can turn things such an alarmingly bright purple.
Include a beetroot into your smoothie and it’ll look like it’s packed with e-additives. Eat some with your fingers, and your fingers will look like you’ve just come back from some kind of fun run.
Those red-purple hues are down to large concentrations of ‘betacyanins betanin pigments’.
Eat too many betanins and they can turn your poo an alarming colour as well, which can make you think you’re suffering from some awful bowel disease when, in fact, you’re just moving a sh*t tonne of nutrients through your body.
But those betanins do more than just make everything purple: they act as natural antioxidants.
Beetroot is as close to being a superfood as anything you’re going to find.
The NHS says that it’s a good source of iron and folic acid, as well as magnesium and nitrates.
And they’ve teamed up with the British Dietetic Association to see what other magical properties beetroots have.
They say that the vegetable might be able to reduce blood pressure and could be useful when it comes to helping athletes.
The NHS site a 2014 study which looked into the effects of beetroot juice on cyclists who were cycling in a chamber designed to mimic the effects of high altitude. Researchers found that the juice gave them a ‘significant increase’ in terms of time trial scores, with participants finishing 16 seconds faster on average.
‘Beetroot and beetroot juice, along with green leafy vegetables, cabbage and celery, are very useful as part of a balanced diet as their nitrate content may help to reduce blood pressure,’ says Alison Hornby, a dietitian and BDA spokesperson.
There really is no vegetable more superior, fresher, more appropriate for summer, more packed full of goodness, than a good old beet.
Thank you, beetroots everywhere, for being so wonderfully scrumptious.
And if you want to get some more beetroot in your life, here are a couple of nutritious and delicious al desco options:
Bright Beets juice, Naked , £3
Beetroot, horseradish & sage hummus, ChicP , £2.50
Beetroot crisps with sea salt, Tyrrells , £1.29
Beetroot Snack Bar, Rude Health , £0.99
(Picture: Holland & Barrett)
Beetroot soup with horseradish, Yorkshire Provender , £2.50