I used to hate beets. My family roots are in Eastern Europe where beets are a staple, so my family cooked beets often, but I refused to touch anything with beets growing up. Over the years, my taste buds obviously changed, because now I can’t get enough of beets, including recipes that usually wont have beets in them… Like waffles!
Beets started getting some press in the endurance performance circles ~10 years ago. There has been a lot of research showing that beet juice concentrate can improve endurance performance, very likely because of the nitrate content. As usual, there are responders as well as non-responders and it is not something that works for everyone. There seems to be a minimum dose required and you likely wont get much of a response from making your own beet juice or eating beets (variations in nitrate content in food). In many cases, especially for those with a sensitive stomach, the dose required can cause GI upset. If you want to see if incorporating beetroot in your pre-race routine makes sense for your individual needs, get in touch!
Other than the fact that they may or may not help improve your performance, beets are awesome for other reasons too. Lets start with the fact that they have such a pretty color! Yes, that is an important factor when it comes to fruit and vegetables... The brighter the colors - the better. Beets get their vibrant color from betalains (betacyanin, in the case of purple beets), known for their antioxidant and anti inflammatory powers.
Beetroot consumption has been shown to be effective for heart disease, certain cancers (especially of the stomach & colon), lowering blood pressure and conditions that are characterized by inflammation. Beets are also a great source of folate, manganese, potassium, vitamin C and fiber.
As you can see, adding beets to your meal rotation is a pretty good idea.
Beets are sensitive little things. I would avoid boiling them or cooking them at high heat for too long and it is best to cook them with the skin on to preserve their nutrients (more specifically the betalains). When shopping for them, look for ones that are not bruised and when preparing them raw, you might want to use gloves... (or rub your hands with a bit of lemon juice/sliced lemons afterwards).
Beets have an earthy sweetness: they are pretty high in sugar, so they are quite versatile. And that’s why they work well in waffles!
Makes 8 waffles
1 large beet
1 tbsp olive oil (mild tasting one best)
1/4 cup butter
1 cup kefir or plain yogurt
2 tbsp coconut sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1 cup brown rice flour
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
Scrub the beets well to clean them, then cut into cubes, Toss in the olive oil and spread on a baking sheet
Bake at 350 for ~20 minutes, or until tender and soft
While the beets are cooking, melt the butter and let cool
Pre heat waffle iron to desired settings (depends on personal preference and the make/model of your waffle iron)
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl
Place yogurt, butter and beets in a high powered blender and blend until smooth. You can add 1 tbsp of water if needed to make everything a bit easier to blend
Beat eggs with the sugar, then add the beet/yogurt/butter mixture and mix everything together
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine
Pour waffle mix in your iron and cook
Serving suggestion: Plain yogurt, sliced bananas and maple syrup!