Carrots are a root vegetable that originated in Asia, roughly 5,000 years ago.
It's believed that the Greeks avoided carrots but the Romans were particularly fond of them.
Since then, carrots have been transported all over the world and have now become one of the most popular vegetables on the market.
Carrots have a mild yet sweeter flavor and are suitable for a multitude of dishes and meals, indulging both raw and cooked.
The typical growing season for carrots is late summer but you can find carrots year round at most grocery stores and markets.
Carrots are orange in color and have a long tapered stick like shape.
Some green close to the top of the carrot is normal.
They can be purchased whole or pre-cut.
Depending on the store or market some whole carrots may or may not have their tops attached.
When purchasing carrots look for carrots that are bright in color, this also includes their leaves.
You can usually tell a "younger" carrot from their more sweet flavor and texture, compared to "older" carrots that have a more earthy flavor.
"Younger" carrots are usually sold whole and in bulk, while "older" carrots are usually pre-cut and packaged.
Carrots should be firm and crisp, should feel like you could snap it.
Carrots should not be limp, this is usually a sign of dehydration and that the carrot is getting old.
You can also find carrots that are purple or yellow in color.
Carrots are filled with nutrients, both macro, and micronutrients.
Carrots are known for their high levels of beta carotene, this is what gives the carrot its orange color. On a side note, beta carotene actually gets its name from the word carrot. Beta carotene is a precursor to vitamin A and gets converted into vitamin A in the body.
Vitamin A plays a large roll in eye and vision health. It also is important in gene regulation, cell differentiation, immune health, and bone and teeth growth.
Just one serving of carrots gives you over 500% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A.
Research has also been done on the effects of carrot consumption in the protection against bladder cancer and other cancers. This is in part due to the carrot's high level of antioxidants.
Carrot juice was shown to have increased the antioxidant levels in both men and women.
The high amount of antioxidants comes from the number of vitamins and carotenoids in the carrot. These antioxidants are also shown to aid in the prevention of inflammatory diseases and cardiovascular diseases.
Drinking carrot juice has also shown potential improvements in the prevention of damaged lymphocyte DNA in smokers.
The fiber found in carrots is helpful for digestion and gut health.
The minerals found in carrots aid in enzyme action, nerve function, and muscle contraction.
Serving Size: 2 medium carrots (about 1 cup chopped or 156 grams)
Protein: about 1 gram
Carbohydrates: about 11 grams
Fat: about 0.25 grams
Fiber: about 3 grams
Total calories: 45
Use & Cooking:
Carrots are easy and simple to prepare for use and cooking.
If using whole fresh carrots, wash and peel the carrot's outer layer with a vegetable peeler. This outer layer is usually bitter and peeling gives a cleaner look.
Cut and serve them raw with a dip, or cut can cook to your desired liking. Trying roasting (LF favorite), sautéing, or steaming your carrots. Roasting and sautéing are great for bringing out the carrot's natural flavors.
When cutting carrots try slicing, grating, chopping, or pureeing.
Carrots are extremely versatile. They can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Carrots are great in salads, stews, they can also be used to make stocks and soups
Cook time does vary based on cooking method, dish, and size of carrots.
The longer you cook them the softer they become, while the shorter cooking time will leave a nice crunch to the carrot. Play around with methods and dishes to find a happy medium of soft and crunch.
Carrots can also be juiced. With juicing, keep in mind that you might lose some nutrients like fiber. Also, try not to spill! The orange pigment can ask as a natural dye. On the other hand, juicing and pureeing does increase the absorption of carotenoids.
Try growing your very own carrots at home! They are easy to grown and cultivate in any home garden.
Carrots are a pretty simple vegetable to keep fresh.
Store carrots in the fridge.
To help preserve the freshness of whole carrots cut the tops off (if still attached), especially if you are not planning on cooking with them right away. Moisture gets pulled away at the top leaving the carrots soft and dried out. Store the carrots in a plastic bag. These carrots should last up to a week in the fridge.
If you buy pre-cut and packaged carrots they should be fine in their plastic package. Do watch out for excessive moisture in the bag. Pre-cut and packaged carrots do tend to have a longer shelf life.
Carrots can easily be added to any dish as the main ingredient or even as the perfect side dish.
Honey Roasted Carrots
Raw carrots and hummus or other dipping sauce
Add carrots to stews or any stir fry
To roast carrots in the oven clean and cut to the desired liking, drizzle with olive oil, season to taste, and roast in the oven at 425 degrees F for about 20 minutes.
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Lee, H. J., Park, Y. K., & Kang, M. H. (2011). The effect of carrot juice, β-carotene supplementation on lymphocyte DNA damage, erythrocyte antioxidant enzymes and plasma lipid profiles in Korean smoker. Nutrition research and practice, 5(6), 540–547. https://doi.org/10.4162/nrp.2011.5.6.540
Ahmad, T., Cawood, M., Iqbal, Q., Ariño, A., Batool, A., Tariq, R., Azam, M., & Akhtar, S. (2019). Phytochemicals in Daucus carota and Their Health Benefits-Review Article. Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 8(9), 424. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods8090424
Que, F., Hou, X. L., Wang, G. L., Xu, Z. S., Tan, G. F., Li, T., Wang, Y. H., Khadr, A., & Xiong, A. S. (2019). Advances in research on the carrot, an important root vegetable in the Apiaceae family. Horticulture research, 6, 69. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-019-0150-6
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