Food of the Week: Carrots
Late summer and fall is the natural season for carrots, which are of course available year-round in our modern food system. Many of us enjoy snacking on raw carrots any time of year, but I imagine most of us especially enjoy a hot bowl of carrot soup or a serving of roasted carrots as the temperature starts to dip. (In September, I can still use generous phrases like “starts to dip,” which will give way to fouler language all too soon.)
When my brother-in-law was little, he once ate so many baby carrots that he acquired a slightly orange-yellow hue. This harmless condition, carotenosis or hypercarotenemia, results from carrots’ high level of vitamin A. The vegetable is also a good source of vitamins C and K, potassium, and fiber.
A friend recently told me that carrots turn to carbohydrates when they are cooked, the implication being that they are less fattening when raw. I was skeptical because even raw carrots are about 90 percent carbs, but apparently the cooking process makes the carbohydrates more easily digestible. This has some negative effects, especially for diabetics.
When it comes to the general health benefits of cooked versus raw carrots, it seems that it depends on which benefit you prioritize. According to a 2009 article in the Scientific American by Sushma Subramanian, carrots supply the most vitamin A when they are boiled, but provide more vitamin C when eaten raw. If you are eating carrots with an orange, for example, it seems logical to cook the carrots, because you will get ample vitamin C from the orange.
Curried Carrot Soup
Delicious as is, but optional additions are celery, potatoes, and ¼ t. thyme. Optional garnishes are sour cream, fresh chives, and whipping cream.
1 T. olive oil
2 T. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ lb. carrots, chopped
4–6 c. chicken broth
1 ½ T. curry powder
¼ t. cayenne pepper
1 t. salt
In a large pot over medium–high heat, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the onion and carrots and sauté 5 minutes. Add 4 cups broth and seasonings, then bring to a boil. Cover and cook until carrots are tender. Process the soup in two or three batches in a blender or food processor, until soup is smooth. Add additional chicken broth to thin if desired.
Carrot-Dill Mashed Potatoes
This tasty and colorful variation on traditional mashed potatoes serves eight, so halving it might be appropriate. From Real Simple magazine.
2 ½ lb. Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
1 lb. sliced carrots
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
1 stick unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh dill
Boil the potatoes and carrots until tender. Drain, then mash with the yogurt and butter. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with dill.
Breakfast in Bangkok
Was your one night in Bangkok a bit too Hangover Part II? Try this picker-upper from allrecipes.com—it’s worth finding a friend with a juicer, if you don’t have your own. Alternately, you could buy carrot juice and apple juice.
2 carrots, peeled (or about 1 c. baby carrots)
1 apple, peeled and quartered
¼ c. coconut milk
¼ t. grated fresh ginger root (opt.)
Run the carrots and apple through a juice extractor and pour the resulting juice into a glass. Stir in the coconut milk and garnish with the ginger.
Roasted Carrots and Beets
Serve alone or with pita bread, feta cheese, and hummus. From Real Simple magazine.
4 medium red beets (about 1 lb.)
2 T. plus 2 t. olive oil
1 lb. carrots, cut into 1-in. pieces
½ t. salt
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 T. minced fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 375°. Toss the beets with 1 t. oil on a rimmed baking sheet, and cover sheet with foil. Roast beets until tender, 45–55 min. Let cool, then trim, peel, and cube.
Meanwhile, toss the carrots, 1 t. oil, and ¼ t. salt on another rimmed baking sheet. Roast carrots until browned and tender, about 40 min. Let cool to room temperature. Combine the lemon juice, remaining ¼ t. salt, and herbs in a small bowl, then whisk in the oil until emulsified, seasoning with pepper to taste. Toss the vegetables with the dressing.
Note: You can substitute smaller amounts of dried herbs for the fresh.
1 lb. carrots, chopped
2 t. butter or olive oil
¼ - ½ c. parmesan cheese
Coat the carrots with the butter or oil and bake at 375° until tender, about 20 minutes (less time if using a toaster oven). Sprinkle the cheese on top during the last 5 minutes of baking.
Healthier Carrot Cake
Delightful with a citrus buttercream frosting. Adapted from allrecipes.com.
1 ½ c. whole wheat flour
½ c. brown sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
1 ½ T. molasses
¼ c. vegetable oil or applesauce
1 orange, juiced and zested
1 ½ t. grated lemon zest
½ c. raisins
2 c. shredded carrots
¼ c. chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 9-in. pan. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the molasses, oil, eggs, and orange juice. Mix until the dry ingredients are moistened, then stir in the orange zest, lemon zest, raisins, carrots, and nuts until evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared pan, and bake for 45–60 minutes, until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Note: Substitutions include 1 t. cinnamon and 1 t. cloves for 1 T. cinnamon, and chopped dried figs in place of some or all of the raisins.