Carrot Basics: Picking, Storing, Nutrition and Healthy, Oil-Free Vegan Recipes

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How to pick, store, and cook healthy, oil-free vegan recipes. When to choose organic. Plus, nutrition information on this delicious root vegetable.

Season

Carrots are traditionally harvested in the fall, like most root vegetables.  However, you can find carrots year-round almost anywhere.

Choosing

Bright, Firm: Bright, firm carrots means they’ve been picked recently and stored correctly. Avoid limp, shriveled looking carrots, as this is a sign they’re old or getting moldy.

Size Matters:  Smaller “baby” carrots tend to be sweeter, with a higher concentration of natural sugar.

Organics Matter: Since carrots are a root vegetable, they soak up whatever pesticides or chemicals might be in the soil. Organic carrots tend to taste better as well, likely because they grow in more nutrient-rich soil and sold soon after harvest. With just a small price difference (but a HUGE taste difference), this is one vegetable I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you buy organic.

Taste the Rainbow: Carrots come in all sorts of colors – orange, red, purple, and white. These colors are due to the different antioxidants in the skin. The more colors means more antioxidants and more nutrition.

Storing

Remove Green Tops: The green tops will draw moisture from the carrots so remove these promptly.

Cold and Dry: Keep carrots in a refrigerator or root cellar. Moisture can cause carrots to shrivel. You can keep them in a perforated plastic bag, or, if you notice moisture, simply line your vegetable bin with a couple of paper towels.

Clean & Cook

How to Clean: Rinse carrots under running water to remove dirt. Wash only just before using or eating.

How to Peel: Use a vegetable peeler to peel off the outer skin. This skin is bitter. Leaving it on can leave an off-putting bitter flavor.

Carrot tops, peels, and ends: You can save for vegetable stock, but you’ll want to be sure they’re thoroughly clean.

Raw: Thinly slice, shave, or grate to enjoy as Carrot “chips”, toss into salad, or make a carrot slaw.

How to Cook: Roast, steam, boil, braise, or stir-fry asparagus. Carrots cook quickly — just 15 minutes to roast carrot wedges and only 5 minutes for an oil-free saute.

Nutrition

(help from WorldsHealthiestFoods)

-Low Calorie, Fat Free, Cholesterol Free, Low Sodium
-Excellent Source of: Vitamin A
-Very Good Source of: Biotin, Vitamin K, Fiber, Potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C
-Good Source of: Maganese, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B1, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Folate, Copper, Vitamin E, Vitamin B2
-Antioxidants: Beta Carotene (which the body converts into Vitamin A), Carotenoids (helps with vision) Hydroxycinnamic, Anthocyanindins
-Shown to protect against Macular Degeneration, improve Cardiovascular function, protect vision
-Cooked are Healthier: Cooking carrots actually makes their beta carotene more bio-available, debunking the “raw is healthier” myth (source: BerkeleyWellness)

 

let’s cook!

Here are a few of my favorite recipes featuring carrots:

Shepherd-Free Vegan Shepherds Pie with Garlic Chive Potato Crust
Za’atar Spiced Rainbow Carrots
Spiced Carrot Fennel Soup

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