The end of the year is bittersweet. A time of reflection, a time of joy, a time of looking forward to new beginnings just around the corner. This celebratory time of year is filled with parties, champagne and bikini-busting sugar. From side dishes, main dishes and desserts made with brown sugar, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, sweet dried fruits and more sugar, it can be hard to find holiday friendly recipes that are positive for your fitness and health goals. One ingredient that complements sugar perfectly is beets. Before you say “ick,” here are a few nutritious facts about beets and a delicious recipe to serve as a versatile side dish or salad.

Beets are a natural body cleanser. Due to their high nutrient properties of magnesium, iron, phosphorus, fiber and vitamins B and C, beets purify the liver, help purify the blood and can help prevent certain cancers. Beets contain properties that relax the mind and help relieve depression and at the same time provide a good source of energy. Best of all, beets pair nicely with flavors of citrus, spice, herbs and, yes, sugars. When combined with these ingredients, you are certain to fall in love with beets at your dinner table giving you a simply sweet ending to the year. Buon appetito!

Maple Roasted Beets with Thyme and Goat Cheese
(Serves 4)1385078842-beets

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme leaves plus more for garnish
Fine zest of ¼ medium orange
Pinch sea salt
Pinch ground black pepper
5 large beets, roots trimmed, skin peeled (see instructions)
1 medium white onion, halved and sliced
2½ ounces plain goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium or large mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of thyme, orange zest, salt and pepper. Wearing gloves to prevent staining the hands, slice beets into 1-inch cubes, as evenly as possible so they roast evenly. Place beets in mixing bowl with the balsamic mixture and toss well to coat. Transfer to one of the lined baking sheets and place in the oven of 35-45 minutes, depending upon desired doneness.

Place sliced onion on the other baking sheet and place on an upper shelf in the oven. Roast for the remaining time along with the beets – 15 to 20 minutes will suffice for the onions. Once beets are fork tender, remove from oven and toss with onion. To serve, place on serving plate and sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese and garnish with fresh thyme. Serve as a side dish or, if desired, serve as a salad on a bed of arugula greens drizzled lightly with olive oil.

Nutritional Information Per Serving
Serving size: about one cup
Calories: 191
Fat: 12.4g
Saturated Fat: 4.7g
Carbohydrates: 16g
Protein: 5.2g
Fiber: 1.8g
Sodium: 199mg

Susan Irby, the Bikini Chef, is a radio host for Bikini Lifestyles on 790 KABC, an author and specialist in healthy “bikini” cuisine. Follow her at or visit her online at

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