Beets, Potatoes, and Recipes - Oh My! By: Cristina Luibil, MS, RD, LDN of Down to Earth Nutrition
Nourishing New Market is a blog series brought to you by Down to Earth Nutrition in conjunction with the New Market Green Team.
This season the New Market Green Team will be working in conjunction with New Market Grange No. 362 and Grow Frederick Inc. to revitalize the New Market Community Garden! The Community Garden is available from May 1 through November 1, 2022. You can read more about it here.
Being a member of the New market Green Team and a Registered Dietitian, I have volunteered to write a blog series about the seasonal food you’ll be able to grow in your community garden plot, tying in the nutrition of the food that you have grown yourself!
Down to Earth Nutrition practices under the premise of "Sustainable Nutrition for Lifelong Wellness™️" or the act of being able to sustain an enjoyable way of eating for the long term as a part of maintaining lifelong wellness. Food, nutrition, and eating should not induce apprehension, and should always be sustainable in that we do not have to take a break from our eating habits in order to enjoy ourselves, our food, and our life.
Sustainability with food also ties in agriculture, the environment, and a way to ensure our food supply for generations to come. This includes, but is not limited to: eating seasonal and locally procured foods, gardening, and supporting local farmers, bakers, and other local food artisans.
Let's talk homegrown, sustainable nutrition in our community garden. According to the planting calendar, we can plant or transplant beets, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes around this time of year (see the calendar for specifics). The beets can be ready to harvest in June, and the white and sweet potatoes will be ready to harvest in the fall.
All of these vegetables are considered root vegetables; specifically, beets are tap roots, white potatoes are tubers, and sweet potatoes are tuberous roots. They are all are considered "starchy vegetables" (as opposed to "non-starchy vegetables", like leafy greens). These veggies can be a beneficial addition to most eating patterns; the best way to find out what is most beneficial for YOU is to schedule a one-on-one consultation with a registered dietitian.
Coincidentally, beets, white potatoes and sweet potatoes are all great sources of some of the same nutrients: potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamin C, and phosphorus. Is this because they are all root vegetables? That would be an interesting concept to look into!
Beets and white potatoes are also a good source of folate. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A! We discussed vitamin A (and carrots) in Nourishing New Market: Volume 1.
Potassium Potassium, a major mineral, has been shown in research studies to help reduce blood pressure levels. Did you know most fruits and vegetables contain potassium, and fruits and vegetables are naturally quite low in sodium? So, fruits and vegetables are great ways to increase the potassium in your eating pattern, while at the same time naturally keeping your sodium intake at a lower level - without even thinking about it! Win-win!
Fiber Fiber from beets, white potatoes and sweet potatoes aids in gut health by keeping us regular and preventing constipation. The fiber from potatoes is mainly found in their skin. Disclaimer: eating lots of beets will cause 💩 to look hot pink, and it might take a day to see if the color goes back to normal; if it doesn't, call your doctor.
Magnesium Magnesium is such an important and sometimes not-often talked about mineral. It is a micronutrient, which means we don't need it in large amounts (compared to macronutrients like carbohydrate, protein, and fat for example), but nonetheless, the functions that magnesium provide our bodies are invaluable to our health and well-being.
Magnesium plays a pivotal role in muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, bone health, and blood pressure regulation, to name a few. Magnesium is also the most important mineral that is in involved in glycolysis, which is the metabolism of carbohydrates. Without magnesium, our bodies would not be able to properly metabolize carbs into glucose to fuel our brains and bodies.
Mother Earth is so interesting and profound - She created the beet and potato, both are carbohydrates (vegetables are carbohydrates), and they just so happen to contain the mineral that is required to break down carbohydrate to provide us with energy to survive. Food is amazing.
Vitamin C Beets, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes are all great sources of vitamin C. We talked about vitamin C a bit in Nourishing New Market: Volume 1; it's a water-soluble vitamin, which means that once your body gets enough through food, it excretes the rest. Vitamin C is great for your skin, as it is required to heal wounds and to make collagen. Collagen is a protein found in skin and other connective tissue, and provides the skin with elasticity, strength, and hydration.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, so it can protect your cells from free radicals due to the environment (like pollution, cigarette smoke, etc.) or due to normal “wear and tear” of the body's cells. Vitamin C also supports our immune system by helping it to function at its peak level. Isn't it amazing that a little beet and potato can do all of this for us!?
Phosphorus Phosphorus is another mineral that is present in these three vegetables which plays a crucial in our body's normal functioning. Some is in our DNA and RNA, and most phosphorus is in our bones and teeth. We normally hear about calcium and vitamin D when we think about bone health, but magnesium and phosphorus are also so important!
Phosphorus is also a major part of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is the energy that is made from metabolizing macronutrients that we eat! Phosphorus is also part of phospholipids, which is a significant part of our cell membranes and keeps our cells intact and functioning optimally.
There are just SO many nutrients in beets, white potatoes and sweet potatoes; not all were named and explained in this blog. That being said, Down to Earth Nutrition wanted to provide New Market residents with simple recipes to try using these veggies.
DTEN's phenomenal summer intern, Isabella, enjoys creating new recipes and she eagerly volunteered to brainstorm and test some out for us. Here are our recipes for Roasted Beet Hummus and Colorful, Homemade Veggie Chips using your community garden harvest.
There are a few more New Market Community Garden plots available - read about them and sign up HERE! They are available for use until November 1, 2022.
Want to keep talking nutrition with Down to Earth Nutrition's Registered Dietitian? Contact Cristina for a free discovery session here
Would you like specific summer produce featured on the blog and/or in a recipe? Leave your thoughts in the comments and we will follow up in future volumes of Nourishing New Market.
Blog Disclaimer: While Cristina Luibil is a registered dietitian, she may not be your dietitian, personally. All blog posts are for informational and educational purposes only and may not be the best fit for your personal situation. Information shall not be construed as medical nutrition therapy. Any recipes you try from DTEN blog posts are tried at your own discretion. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. It is not intended to replace individual nutrition care or nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian. Always check with your own registered dietitian and physician or medical treatment team before trying or implementing any information read here.
If you choose, Down to Earth Nutrition would be happy to help you in your own, individualized sustainable nutrition journey.