If there’s one food that can actually fuel your fitness, it’s beets. High in nitrates, which get converted into nitric oxide that help your muscles work more efficiently during intense exercise, beets are nature’s performance enhancer.
Past research has shown that beets can slash minutes off your run time and enable exercisers – from weekend warriors to Olympic athletes – to better tolerate high-intensity exercise. In fact, a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found runners who ate about a half pound of cooked beets two hours before a run ran faster over 5 km than those who didn’t. But if borscht is not your idea of a pre-workout meal, consider juicing or blending raw beets into a smoothie, or try this delicious salad recipe.
Roasted Beet Salad with Mint and Feta
Prep time: 20 min • Total Time: 2 hours (with cooling time) • Makes 4 servings
• 6 large red beets, washed
• 2 tsp olive oil plus 1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
• ¼ cup feta cheese
• 2 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
• 1 shallot, thinly sliced
• 2 Tbsp orange juice
• 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
• 1 Tbsp honey
• ¼ tsp salt and freshly ground pepper
• ¼ cup pistachios, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut greens off beets leaving 1 inch. Place beets on a double layer of foil and drizzle with 2 tsp olive oil. Wrap tightly and place pouch directly on cookie sheet. Roast until beets are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
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2. Meanwhile make dressing by combining remaining olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.
3. When beets are cooled, remove skins by rubbing with paper towel. Cut beets into bite sized wedges. Toss with dressing, mint, shallots and feta. Divide evenly between four plates. Garnish with pistachios, dividing evenly.
Nutrients per serving:
Calories: 221, Fat: 13 g, Carbs: 21 g, Protein: 7 g, Fiber: 4 g