Beets are hands down, one of our favorite veggies on the planet and for centuries different cultures have been praising their ruby-hued benefits in various forms. According to Colorado Proud, ancient Assyrian texts reveal that beets grew in the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon in 800 BC. Ancient Greeks used beets to treat a wide range of ailments, such as headaches, constipation, toothaches, wounds and even dermatological issues. Victorian era women washed their hair with beet juice to give it a reddish glow and beets have long been used as a natural food coloring. While some societies used beets for their medicinal and cosmetic properties, the ancient Romans were the very first to catch on to their yumminess and cultivate them as a food source.

Beets also boast an impressive nutritional profile, loaded with vitamins and minerals to include: folate, manganese and copper, which aids in overall growth and development, heart health, bone formation and brain function. Although they pack a potent and healthy punch, beets are still low in calories and fat yet high in soluble and insoluble fiber. This coupling  keeps your intestinal track running smoothly and your blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels in check. The unique crimson-red color of red beets is primarily due to betalain pigments which are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that beets harbor more than any other plant foods.

Fresh beets are typically available in Colorado from early July through September, and as root vegetables, they keep very well in dark, cool storage for up to three months. When selecting beets, Colorado Proud recommends seeking out smaller options which tend to be sweeter and more tender with greens that appear fresh and have a bright, deep green color.

Many folks utilize beets in salads or soups but Chef Jason Morse of 5280 Culinary shares his take on beets as the main ingredient in his hummus recipe served with carrots, cucumbers, peppers and pita chips for an extra pop color on the plate. We also recommend using this vibrant hummus as the spread on avocado toast for a simple, healthy and undeniably gorgeous dish.

“This is next level hummus for sure,” says chef Morse. “We take those amazing Colorado beets and add them into our family’s secret recipe hummus to create this now not so secret creation. Grab some veggies and crackers and dig in.”

Grab some local sourdough & add bright baby tomatoes + arugula for a perfectly pleasing presentation.

If you’re 21-years of age & partake in responsible imbibing, the Colorado Wine Board suggests pairing this dish with cans of the Cabernet Sauvingnon-Syrah blend from Infinite Monkey Theorem. The palate on this red bursts with cherries, blackberries and currants with hints of cinnamon toast on the finish. For a locally derived, non-alcoholic option, check out Happy Leaf Kombucha based out of Boulder, Colorado.

Click here to find a complete list of locally grown recipes courtesy of Colorado Proud.