Feb 12, 2015 10:00 AM

Author: Cancer Learning Center

Looking for a healthier Valentine’s treat? These red velvet cupcakes get their crimson color from beets, which also add fiber, manganese, iron, and folate, a B vitamin that helps produce and repair DNA and may play a role in cancer protection.

You can use canned beets instead of fresh, but the red color won’t be nearly as vibrant. If choosing canned, avoid beets with added salt or sugar, and make sure not to get pickled beets.


  • 2 medium fresh beets, scrubbed, or
    1 (8.25-oz.) can beets, drained
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. unbleached
    all-purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp. unsweetened natural cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. canola oil, chilled
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 large egg, cold
  1. If using canned beets, proceed to step 2. Preheat oven to 425° F. Wrap fresh beets in tin foil and place on baking sheet. Roast in oven until tender, about 45-60 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place cupcake liners into 12-cup muffin tin.
  3. Blend beets, buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla in blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.
  4. In small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  5. In medium bowl, combine oil and sugar. With hand mixer on medium speed, mix until sugar is evenly moistened. Add egg and beat at high speed until sugar is almost completely dissolved, about 90 seconds. Add beet mixture and beat until combined. On low speed, add dry ingredients 1/3 at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Divide batter evenly among lined muffin cups.
  6. Bake 28-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Place cupcakes on wire rack and cool completely before frosting with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting 

  • 6 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), room temperature
  • 1/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, Greek yogurt, and vanilla with hand mixer until smooth.

 Adapted from a recipe by the American Institute for Cancer Research

Cancer Learning Center

Huntsman Cancer Institute

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