Let Me Reintroduce You to This Little Gem: The Carrot, Not the Carat

girl eating carrotIf you follow recent food and cooking trends, you will notice particular vegetables seem to get the spotlight more than others.  But when it comes to vegetables, variety is key to getting different nutrients into your diet. Not to mention the different flavors and textures they provide.

Let me reintroduce you to the carrot; still one of the most popular vegetables in the United States and an old time favorite.  Carrots are one of the first vegetables fed to babies and have been enjoyed by all ages for their sweet taste and texture.  They are low in calories and rich in vitamin A.  Carrots are versatile.  They can be eaten fresh, pureed, or anything in between.  Eating fresh carrots just requires a quick rinse and a scrape under running tap water to remove any surface residue.  Other popular uses are juicing or pureeing for smoothies and soufflés.  Carrots are also a common ingredient in baked products, such as muffins and loaf breads.

Eating fresh baby carrots for snacks and with meals is probably one of the easiest ways to get more vegetables into your diet.  They can be purchased ready-to-eat in a variety of bag sizes.  Just so you know, most “baby carrots” sold in supermarkets are actually “baby-cut carrots” which are regular carrots that have been cut and shaped to look like small carrots.  Baby carrots are really a full grown small carrot variety usually served in
up-scale restaurants.

Here are tips for choosing and preparing carrots.

  • Select deep orange colored carrots that are firm with smooth skin and fresh green tops (if still attached). The deeper the color the higher the beta-carotene content.
  • Avoid carrots that are limp, cracked, soft, sprouted, odd-shaped, or very dark at the top end.
  • Store unwashed carrots with tops removed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  • The green tops are edible and can be used in soups and stews. Store separately; they only keep for a few days.
  • Wash just before use. Scrub thoroughly with cool tap water and a vegetable brush to remove surface residue. Scrape or peel if desired, and rinse again.

Click here for more information from the United States Department of Agriculture about carrots including two recipes – Crunchy Carrot Salad and Easy Baked Carrots.