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December 20th, 2016

Carrots – Not Just for Snowmen

by Yael Ben-Chaim

Carrots are a bunny’s favorite treat, a snowman’s nose, and a vegetable with a lot of purpose. Carrots are well known in their “baby” form, and for their benefits related to eye care. They are most commonly orange, but can be purple, white, or yellow.  In fact, when carrots were first cultivated in the 10th century in Persia and Asia Minor they were purple with a thin root. A mutation occurred which removed the purple pigmentation, resulting in a new, yellow carrot from which orange carrots were developed. Today, the orange carrot is the most popular and widely found carrot variety.

The average American eats twelve pounds of carrots each year, or about one cup of carrots each week. They are the most popular vegetable in the United States after the potato, which makes sense as carrots are delicious in soups, cakes, or in nutrient dense, homemade juice .  The biggest carrot recorded was over 19 pounds and the longest was over 19 feet in length!

Baby carrots, a popular finger food to dip into hummus or other dressings, are not actually a small varietal of the vegetable. Contrary to their name, baby carrots are cut from a slim carrot and buffed and polished to reveal the small and rounded appearance found at the grocery store.

Though most known for their benefits related to sight, carrots have other nutritional benefits. Carrots are high in fiber, which help to regulate bowel movements and maintain bowel health. Fiber also helps to control blood sugar, as it can slow the absorption of sugar.  The daily recommended allowance of fiber for men is 38 grams, and 25 grams for women. So eat up carrots to help your eyes and bellies!

Because carrots are hard and dense, they cook most quickly when cut into even-sized pieces on a diagonal. Carrots have an amazing shelf life, usually lasting for 4-5 weeks in the fridge. If they become limp, you can soak carrots in ice water to make the carrot less soft.

Garlic Roasted Carrots from Damn Delicious

Ingredients:

  • 12 medium carrots, cut in half.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme.
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste.
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees, lightly oil a baking sheet.
  • Place carrots in single layer on baking sheet. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Place in over and bake for 35-40 minute, or until tender.
About the Author Yael Ben-Chaim

Yael is a food-lover, interested in local food systems and farmers markets. Follow Yael's blog posts on farmer market produce, recipes, and nutrition information. Yael is an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Maryland Farmers Market Association and is developing a seasonal food education program for MDFMA.