Beets are root vegetables that are available in a variety of colors, from deep red to yellow, and even striped. They’re full of potassium and magnesium, and contain betaine and folate that work together to reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood, which has been linked to heart disease, stroke and dementia. Their deep red color comes from betacyanin, a powerful antioxidant. Beets can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled or baked. The greens are packed with fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C. In Eastern and holistic medicine, beets are believed to tonify the yin and purify the blood.

Purchase fresh beets with the greens attached from your grocer or farmer’s market from summer through winter. Cut the greens about one inch from the root. Gently scrub the beet clean. Leave the skin intact if you’re going to boil, steam or bake them, or peel them if you’re enjoying them raw.

Bake the beets by slicing them in half and placing them in a glass baking dish with about 1/2 inch of water. Cover with foil and bake in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until tender. Boil or steam halved or quartered beets for 20 to 30 minutes until tender. Allow them to cool and the skins will slip off. Enjoy them as a side dish with a little orange zest, butter or ginger.

Make gingered beet soup. Bake or boil 8 red or golden beets; allow them to cool. Grate or julienne two peeled beets. Cut the remaining 6 beets into 1-inch cubes, and place them in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock, 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, and 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar. Puree, then pour into a medium pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the grated beets. Serve with a garnish of sour cream, parsley or chives.

Eat them raw. Slice beets paper thin or grate them for a colorful, sweet, earthy addition to salads. They also make nutritious juice. Use small beets and fruits and vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, celery, orange and pineapple. Raw beet juice can be strong tasting, so use one part beets to four parts other fruits and vegetables for a tasty balance of flavors.

Wash the greens thoroughly to remove sand and grit, then cut them into ribbons, discarding the tough, thick stems. Steam them or saute the greens in a little olive oil, garlic, onion, or red pepper flakes for a quick, nutritious side dish. Beet greens are similar to kale and collard greens.