by Samantha Penlington
I think it’s safe to say that when many of us think of bright orange, whole carrots, we picture Bugs Bunny chewing on a carrot and up to his usual shenanigans. Carrots aren’t just for rabbits – they can offer us lots of nutrients that are key for good eye and heart health.
If you haven’t yet tasted local, freshly picked carrots then you are missing out! They are sweet, juicy, and the perfect kind of crunchy.
Carrots can be bought locally in Ontario all year long. They are mainly grown in the Bradford area north of Toronto. In 2011, farmers produced over 482 million pounds of carrots! All of those carrots combined are heavier than the weight of the CN Tower!
When buying carrots, look for carrots that are firm and bright orange. Their skin should be smooth with no cracks. Look for the Foodland Ontario logo or ask the grocery store manager if they sell locally grown carrots.
Carrots should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag to retain their moisture. Remove the leafy green tops before storing, as they will take the moisture out of the carrots and they will become wilted and soft. If stored properly in the crisper, they should keep for up to three weeks.
To use the carrots, clean them under cool running water by using a produce brush. Once the carrots are clean, you can either eat them with or without the skin. Carrots can be eaten raw or cooked. There are many ways to cook carrots such as roasting, steaming, or boiling them. But, here are some different ways to incorporate more carrots into your diet:
Enjoy a healthy carrot and bran muffin at breakfast. Add some shredded carrot to your favourite recipe!
Pair carrot sticks with a homemade dill dip. The flavours really complement each other.
Throw some shredded carrot onto your salads for extra sweetness and crunch!
The following recipes use carrots in an unexpected way to experiment with eating carrots in different ways!
Roasted Carrot & Beet Soup Recipe
Vegetable oil cooking spray
5 large carrots, peeled and sliced (3 cups)
1 pound fresh beets, peeled and chopped*
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced (1½ cups)
1 large onion, quartered (2 cups)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 14-ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream for garnish**
Fresh chives, chopped, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with the cooking spray. Combine the carrots, beets, celery and onion in the dish. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and pepper. Toss to coat vegetables. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 1 hour, or until the vegetables are fork tender. Cool slightly.
In a food processor or blender, puree the roasted vegetables with the broth in batches until smooth. Combine the batches in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Heat on medium-low until warmed through.
Garnish with sour cream and chives.
*Substitute 1 15-ounce can beets, rinsed and drained. Instead of roasting, puree them with other vegetables in food processor or blender.
**Substitute Greek yogurt.
Recipe Credit: EatRight.org
Carrot Cake Muffins
Olive oil spray (or canola oil spray)
1 ½ cups carrots, grated
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup ground flaxseeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup calcium-fortified 100-percent pure orange juice
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup coconut, grated
Preheat oven to 350°F; spray muffin pan with cooking oil spray.
Shred carrots and set aside.
Combine flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, cinnamon and sea salt in a bowl, and mix.
Add egg, orange juice and applesauce to the bowl, and mix thoroughly.
Fold in carrots and coconut until blended.
Spoon mixture into muffin tins, filling until ⅔ full.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until browned.
Cool and enjoy!
Recipe Credit: EatRight.org
References & Additional Resources