Most people wouldn't think twice about buying a bag of beautiful orange carrots, but what if those carrots were white? Back in Roman times, wild carrots were actually white, not orange. According to Philipp Simon, research geneticist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers prior to the 16th century living in what is now Afghanistan, domesticated the wild carrot and turned it yellow. Wait. Yellow? Yes, it wasn't actually until 600 hundred years later in Europe, farmers cultivated the orange rooted carrot we see today.
Orange carrots get their orange color from the plant pigment, beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in our bodies. Thus, carrots are one of the best sources of Vitamin A, as well as a good source of fiber. Carrots lend a slightly sweet flavor to dishes, and their sweetness is enhanced when cooked. Carrots lose very little nutritional value when heated. In fact, some nutrients in slightly cooked carrots are more available to the body than raw carrots. Cooking actually breaks down the tough cellular wall of carrots making these nutrients more useable to the body.
Store carrots with the green tops trimmed and stored separately. Although the tops are edible, the greenery will rob the carrot of moisture and nutritional value. Carrots will keep for several weeks in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator in perforated plastic bags.
Carrots are quite versatile and can be consumed in numerous ways. They are great raw, steamed, roasted, sautéed, baked into casseroles, cooked in skillet meals, dehydrated into chips, and so much more. Choose how you like them best, and fill your plate!
Roasted Carrots (Printable PDF)
1 lb. whole carrots
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400?F. Wash carrots and trim off tops. If desired, using a vegetable peeler, peel outer layer of carrots. Cut carrots in half horizontally. For thicker carrots, cut vertically as well. Place carrots in a single layer on baking sheet. Add oil, vinegar, garlic, thyme, parsley and pepper; toss to combine. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until tender.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 90 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 60 milligrams sodium, 13 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 2 grams protein