Tag Archives: folate

Hey I Have Pink…

My favorite cartoons (are these counted as cartoons?) of all time are Rugrats, Looney Toons, Ah! Real Monsters, and Doug.  Remember Doug?  The nerdy, khaki-shorts, green sweater-vest-wearing boy of Nickelodeon  made his style and having a big nose and the nasaly voice that comes with it even less cool than it already was.  His gaggle of friends, arch-nemesis Roger, and beatnik sister provided him with a plethora of challenges to be faced each and every episode.  Not to fear, though, Doug, like most teenagers, has a favorite band that he idols.  The Beets.  The Beets were famous for such songs as Killer Tofu and I Need More Allowance.  But the one thing the beets did for me… made me wonder what a beet is.  That’s right my friends, I didn’t have my first encounter with a beet until a few months ago.

I was discussing my new found love for beets with my Mom and her sister the other day.  My Mom is very well known for her healthy eating habits and dislike for most things sweet and tasty.  The rest of the family is well known for their love of all things sweet and tasty.  So when I mentioned that I had my first beet a few months ago, my Aunt was surprised that my Mom never fed as beets as a kid.  I replied that it’s probably good she hadn’t because I doubt we would have liked them.  And now I love them.  I’ve eaten so many beets the past few days that I (TMI warning) had pinkish pee the other day.  I texted my Mom to inform her of this really important update.

So I thought it was only fitting that my much anticipated return to discussing goodie packed foods be about beets.  And what better place to start than pink pee?

Much like asparagus, beets affect our urine.  However, only about 14% of the population experiences this phenomena and apparently I am one of the lucky few.  It even has a fancy name– Beeturia.  Beeturia can be a sign of low iron levels in the body but I like to think it is my body saying “weeee beeeeeets!”  Guess I should get those iron levels checked…

Fascinating, yes?  For those pregnant ladies (or pregnant men) out there, beets are an excellent source of folate, 68mcg in 1/2 cup to be exact, which we know is incredibly important in protecting the fetus against a number of issues (no need to go through them but this wikipedia article can help you 🙂 ).  It is recommended that those carrying precious cargo get about 520 mcg and non-carrying women and men get 320 mcg.

So what if you’re not concerned about your folate intake?  Well you’ll be happy to know that 1/2 cup of beets also contain 1.43 grams of protein, 37 calories, and 1.7 grams of dietary fiber.  (To see what your body needs check out this chart)

Potassium – 259 mg
Phosphorus – 32 mg
Magnesium – 20 mg
Calcium – 14 mg
Iron – 0.67 mg
Sodium – 65 mg
Zinc – 0.3 mg
Copper – 0.063 mg
Manganese – 0.277 mg
Selenium – 0.6 mcg
Also contains small amounts of other minerals.

Vitamin A – 30 iu
Vitamin C – 3.1 mg
Niacin – 0.281 mg
Folate – 68 mcg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.023 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.034 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.123 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.057 mg
Vitamin K – 0.2 mcg
Vitamin E – 0.03 mg
Contains some other vitamins in small amounts.


Now that we know how fantastic they are, lets talk about how to buy them.  The first time I went to buy beets after having them in a salad at one of my favorite Doodlehem restaurants, Tapas on Main, I ran screaming from the produce aisle. Well… not really but it’s funny to imagine me doing that.  I just backed away slowly.  See, I thought that maybe I could buy just one beet.  I am only one person afterall and how many beets does one person really need?  At the time I thought it was only one.

Beets are sold as a bunch.

But trust me, once you have on beet you’ll be glad they are sold as a bunch.

If you’re lucky to live in a place where there are tons of farmer’s markets, like me, you’ll find that the beets are one of the first things to go.  Beets and eggs.  One of the best things about buying your produce at a farmer’s market is the farmers are the best source on how to cook, serve, eat, and store their produce.  Unless you ask this one guy who sells really amazing tomatoes but for some reason has no desire to talk about what he does with his produce.  Take pride man!

(My purple bounty… the purple potatoes cook up purple!  Sadly, the green beans turn green once cooked.)

You want beets that are firm, no soft spots, looking good, and with bright green leafys still attached.  If the leaves long vibrant that means they were recently plucked from the ground!  This is most important if you intend to eat the greens as well, which I have not done yet.  Don’t fret if the greens aren’t attached or aren’t looking quite as fresh as you’d like them.  Just check out the beet and make sure that’s looking fresh.  You want it to be smooth and not too hairy… hmm. 😉

When you get home you should cut the greens off the root or they will suck moisture from the beet.  Beets are fantastic in that they can keep for weeks but are best when eaten within the first week or two.  Beets are actually in their prime right now, but because of their long staying power they are often associated with the fall.

Now don’t be confused by the nasty congealed beets your familiar with.  You know the kind.  They show up in buffets and salad bars.  I was always scared by those beets.  Fresh beets have a sweet fresh taste to them.  I don’t know what those other ones taste like but I imagine very processed and gooey.

On to the cooking.  Don’t peel the beet.  I repeat, don’t peel the beet.  Much like potatoes, you can eat the peal and it provides nutrients.  I personally like to eat the peal.  You can peel the beet after roasting when it will just slide right off the vegetable.  It also serves to protect the beet during cooking and protect you and your cookware from purple stains (fun fact, beets are an excellent food dye replacement!).  So how exactly do you cook a beet?  Roasting is really easy.  I like to roll whole beets in a bowl of olive oil and spices, put the beets on tin foil and roll the foil up to make a pocket.  See those mini potatoes above?  I did the same thing to them, using the save olive oil mixture, and roasted them at the same time as the beets.  Soooo yummy.  Beets are super resilient so if you have other things in your oven that need to roast at a certain temp, go for it.  Otherwise, I like to do 375 degrees for about an hour.  Smaller beets will obviously require less time.  Once your roasted beets are done you have some options.  I like to cut right into them and chow down.  You can also let them cool first and then slide the peel right off.  The cooled down roasted beets can be used sliced up in salads (this is how I first experienced the beet).  You can also slice them up and cook them further on the stove to add more flavor, but I don’t feel like the beet needs more flavor.

If you don’t want to spend an hour roasting your beets another way I like to cook them is by dicing them and sauteing them in a pan with olive oil and spices. The first time I did this the beets got a little burnt but I like burnt food so I wasn’t too upset!

And then I found this fantastic idea on Pinterest.  Beet chips.  You can be sure this is on my list of meals for this week.

Have you ever had a beet?  What’s your favorite way to enjoy beets?

Other posts you might like…



Asparagus Pee

I’m a firm believer that anything is fancy when asparagus is added.  Macaroni and Cheese becomes a masterpiece of pasta, fromage, and asparagus.  Restaurant leftovers are magically transformed from a not-so-healthy meal into a new, delicious, healthy dinner with asparagus.  I just love asparagus.  And this love affair has gotten intense since moving and cooking for 1.  Those little green stalks of deliciousness are so easy to prepare.  I used to be scared of asparagus, just like I was of kale.  But then I realized that if I can cook frozen veggies in the microwave, I surely must be able to cook asparagus in the microwave too.  So one day I washed the asparagus, snapped it into three pieces, threw them in a bowl with a tad bit of water, covered with saran wrap, and nuked those bad boys.  And you know what?  Perfection.  So I thought I would make asparagus Goodie-Packed Food 2.

(Please do remember that anything I write about these Goodies is the result of my research that wasn’t always the most extensive and was done to serve my needs, and no one else’s.  If I’m wrong about any of my findings, I welcome polite correction!)

Asparagus is an easy vegetable that doesn’t appeal to anyone.  When I was little I said I didn’t like “spare-grass.”  But, as with most vegetables, as I got older I began to love it.  Whenever I’m cooking a special meal for my family, like a birthday dinner, asparagus is always my vegetable of choice.  In my opinion it goes with most anything and just fancifies the meal.  My mom was always around to help me cook the meals and usually added things to the asparagus to make them fancier.  She would steam them in an actual steamer, grill them, sauté them with garlic, etc.  But I like my asparagus plain and simple.

So how do we get started with asparagus?

First, I like to look for a bunch at the grocery store/farmers market that matches the amount I’ll eat.  Too much, and it will go bad.  Too little, and I’ll be sad.

Second, I look for a nice green color and stalks that still look strong.  Wilty stalks are no good.  You want your stalks to be on the thinner side and to be unwrinkled (teehee).

Third, I just go with my gut.  The asparagus talks to me.  I pick the bunch that is saying in a sweet, little voice “pick me, pick me!”  And I pick them.

Now that you’ve got your asparagus it is important to know how to store them.  You can’t just throw them in your vegetable bin in the fridge.  Asparagus is like a flower; it needs to be stored in water.  That’s right.  Fill a wide cup with water and drop that bunch in there.  I find an old coffee cup works (no idea how we ended up with this Campbell’s soup cup but it is the perfect size).  I like to store my asparagus on the door so that nothing bumps it.  It seems to fit perfectly here.  Some people suggest putting in open Ziploc bag over the bunch too.  I don’t do that but if it tickles your pickle, go for it.

When you’re ready to eat your stalks of joy there are a few simple steps.

1.      You need to break off the end that doesn’t quite look right.  Don’t worry, your asparagus knows where that is and will break off for you.  Hold the asparagus at the nasty end (the opposite of the flowery top) and a few inches away.  Bend your asparagus and it will naturally break at the right point.  Asparagus are so smart.

2.      Some people like to peel their asparagus.  I have never done this, never been taught to, and don’t see a need to.  Veggies should be easy to me and peeling adds an extra step.  However, if you would like to just use a vegetable peeler from the end to the flowery top.  Be sure not to go over the same spot twice or you’ll end up with some sad asparagus.  I hear this helps take away some of the stringiness but I’ve never felt asparagus to be stringy.  Maybe if you’re not an asparagus fan this will be a good step for you?

3.      Now the cooking.  If you want to do my microwave version, just snap the asparagus in half or thirds and toss in a bowl.  Add a little bit of water, cover with saran wrap, and microwave.  If you’d like to steam your asparagus in a steamer basket then there is no need to break your asparagus before cooking.  Just throw them in the basket and steam away.  Boiling is another option.  You can boil your asparagus in a shallow pan of water.  Again, you don’t need to break ahead of time.  No matter what method you choose, asparagus goes from uncooked to cooked really quickly so keep a close watch.  As with all veggies, they are at their peak when their color is at its brightest so don’t let your asparagus get too light.


Now this couldn’t be a GPF2 post if I didn’t discuss why asparagus is so good for you.




Half cup (about 6 spears) cooked with no added salt contains 2.16 grams of protein, 20 calories and 1.8 grams of fiber.


Potassium – 202 mg
Phosphorus – 49 mg
Calcium – 21 mg
Iron – 0.82 mg
Sodium – 13 mg
Magnesium – 13 mg
Zinc – 0.54 mg
Copper – 0.149 mg
Manganese – 0.139 mg
Selenium – 5.5 mcg
Also contains small amounts of other minerals.
Vitamin A – 905 IU
Vitamin C – 6.9 mg
Niacin – 0.976 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.146 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.125 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.203 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.071 mg
Folate – 134 mcg
Vitamin K – 45.5 mcg
Vitamin E – 1.35 mg
Contains some other vitamins in small amounts.

Asparagus is an excellent source of protein and fiber.  The DRI of protein for a female in my age range (19-30) is 46 grams and of fiber is 25 g.  (source).  We all know the benefits of protein and fiber—protein keeps us full and fiber helps our tummies move.  It is low in calories, and rumor has it that it takes more calories to digest this vegetable than it has, so yay (source)!  Like kale, it is a good source of antioxidants that help remove harmful free radicals from the body.  A half cup of asparagus contains 134 mcg of folate and the DRI of folate is:

Age (years) Males and Females (μg/day) Pregnancy (μg/day) Lactation (μg/day)
1-3 150 N/A N/A
4-8 200 N/A N/A
9-13 300 N/A N/A
14-18 400 600 500
19+ 400 600 500

A half cup of asparagus provides about a fourth of the DRI of folate, a good portion of fiber and protein, and lots of antioxidants.  Add in some other yummies, like peas, kale, and asparagus, and you’ve got a full meal!

Beware, asparagus can turn your piddle green and give off a crazy smell!  Why?  Asparagus pee is a crazy phenomenon that has been known to cause some a lot of embarrassment.  Some say that only certain people produce the smell, some say it is possible to produce a stronger smell than someone else, and still some say that only certain people are able to detect the smell.  During digestion, certain compounds are metabolized that give off an odor due to various sulfur-containing processes.  Want to learn more?  The ever trust Wikipedia.

But don’t worry.  I’ve never noticed asparagus pee smell to be lingering.  Just flush the loo and go on with your day.

As with all veggies, creativity is key.  It isn’t easy to mess a veggie up unless you’re slathering it in unhealthy sauces.  Allow veggies to be as natural as possible and add spices a little at a time.  Want some easy recipe ideas?

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

Grilled Asparagus

Veggie Satay with Cucumber Quinoa Salad

Sautéed Garlic Asparagus (try replacing the butter with olive oil!)