C is for… Chuqander (Beetroot)

Chuqander are usually a deep red colour but there are varieties ranging from white, orange and even striped. Both the beets and their greens can be eaten as they are tasty and full of unique nutritious properties.

Chuqander (Beetroot). Photo: Valentina R. / Dollar Photo Club Chuqander (Beetroot). Valentina R. / Dollar Photo Club


One large chuqander (approximately 100 grams) contains only 43 Calories and 25 per cent of daily folate requirements. Although it's a sweet vegetable it only contains 6 grams of natural sugars and 2 grams of fibre. A recent study has shown that just 100 grams of fresh red beetroot juice had blood pressure lowering effects within 24 hours.

Chuqander also contain the phytonutrient, betanin which has been shown to provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support. It is what gives it the rich colour, so it's not surprising that some may find a reddening of their urine or stool after eating large amounts of chuqander. This nutrient can be steadily lost as the length of cooking time is increased, so it is recommended to keep cooking to a minimum.

Three things to do with chuqander

  1. Quick cook them by steaming for 15 minutes or try chuqander as a subji (vegetable curry). Simply wash and dice up three medium beets with their greens. Add them, along with some ginger, garlic and diced onion to 1 teaspoon of oil and cook over the stove. Flavour with ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, a touch of salt, pepper and cumin. Within 20 minutes of cooking, you can have a great subji.
  2. Bake chuqander in the oven for 30–45 minutes. Once soft they can be peeled, cubed and added to soups or simply eaten with a touch of vegetable oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Grate them. Use grated fresh chuqander or peeled wedges of chuqander in salads such as a coleslaw.

Top Tip

When you're in a hurry canned beets can also be used to make a quick side dish for any meal or you may prefer pickled chuqander. But remember these have been heat processed, so have lost some of their nutrients and pickled beets will have higher amounts of sodium (coming from salt), so enjoy these less often.