The simple combination of thinly sliced roasted beets, drizzled with olive oil, and topped with homemade fresh mint pesto is a delicious summer treat.

Beets are a root vegetable that have a distinct earthy-sweet taste. ­An anti-inflammatory, high-water food, beets are a good source of vitamins, like folate (vitamin B9), vitamins C and K, and minerals, like potassium and iron. They are also a relatively good source of fiber.

When consumed regularly (not just once or twice a year!), beets may help with weight management (as a high-water and high-fiber food, they can promote satiety and a feeling of fullness). Beets can help lower blood pressure, improve athletic performance, and can help prevent constipation.

That said…beets do contain sugar; in fact, white table sugar often comes from sugar beets. Beets are considered a medium glycemic vegetable, though their glycemic load is 5, which is considered low. If you struggle with blood sugar issues, it is best to eat beets in smaller amounts compared to non-starchy vegetables, like leafy greens, broccoli or zucchini, which are often considered “unlimited” foods.

It is also important to know that beets are a source of fructans, a type of storage carbohydrate made up of a chain of fructose molecules. The fructose that makes up fructans is one type of FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols).  If you have IBS; or you have been diagnosed with fructan intolerance; or you are following a low-FODMAP eating plan, beets may not be an ideal food for you to consume. Again, this depends on your level of sensitivity.

A unique phenomenon of eating beets is that you may experience beeturia, when the dark red pigments in beets (which also stain your hands!) turns the color of your pee or poop red or pink after you eat beets. Your stool may have a dark red-black color up to 2 days after eating beets.

For delicious and natural whole food summer sweetness, try this simple roasted beets recipe.

Roasted Beets with Fresh Mint Pesto
Serves: 2 to 4

1 to 2 bunches beets

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a heavy-bottomed rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut off the beet greens. Trim ends of beets (on both sides). Wash beets well; then, pat dry. Drizzle beets with olive oil. Wrap beets in parchment paper, then wrap in aluminum foil. (Do not wrap aluminum foil directly over the beets as aluminum is  heavy metal).

Place wrapped beets on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Place baking sheet on center rack in oven and roast 45 minutes. Unwrap foil and parchment paper. Slide a knife into the beets; if they are still firm, discard the parchment paper and aluminum foil; place beets directly on the parchment-lined baking sheet and roast another 30 to 45 minutes; or, until a knife inserted in each beet slides out easily.

When cool enough to handle, peel skin from the beets and slice thinly. Arrange beet slices on a serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil, then, top beets with fresh mint pesto (see recipe below).

You can also sprinkle finely chopped mint over the beets.

Mint Pesto
Yield: Apx. 1 cup

4 cups mint leaves, washed and spun dry
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 to 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place mint leaves, garlic, Celtic sea salt and lime juice in a large food processor bowl. Pulse, while drizzling in the olive oil, pulsing until smooth, creamy and well blended.