A Nutritional Hero
Carrots are nutritional heroes; they store a goldmine of nutrients.
Carrot Food Facts
The crunchy texture and sweet taste of carrots is popular among both adults and children. This is a truly versatile vegetable and an excellent source of vitamins B and C.
Carrots' antioxidant compounds help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer and also promote good vision, especially night vision.
Carrots belong to the Umbelliferae family, named after the umbrella like flower clusters that plants in this family produce. As such, carrots are related to parsnips, fennel caraway, cumin and dill. There are over 100 different varieties that vary in size and color.
Unlike most other vegetables (though not all), carrots are more nutritious when eaten cooked than eaten raw (except when juiced).
So long as the cooked carrots are served as part of a meal that provides some fat the body can absorb more than half of the carotene. Also, it usual for carrots to be cut into pieces and eaten after boiling or steaming, but done in this way, half the proteins and soluble carbohydrates will be lost so it is more advisable to cook them whole and then cut up.
Carrots are available all year. Carrots should have smooth skins, good orange color and be well formed. Do not purchase if wilted, cracked or flabby or if tops are green. Keep refrigerated. Carrots are high in vitamin A if not kept soaking in water.
To slip the skins off carrots, drop them in boiling water, let stand for five minutes, then drop them into cold water.
To curl carrots, peel slices with a potato peeler, then drop them in a bowl of ice water.
The tops of carrots should be removed before storing them in the refrigerator. Tops will drain the carrots of moisture, making them limp and dry.
Keep carrots away from apples and tomatoes. These fruits give off higher amounts of ethylene gas and may make the carrots bitter.
When grating carrots, leave part of the green top on to use as a handle. Keeps your fingers intact.
Carrot greens are high in vitamin K, which is lacking in the carrot itself. In the United States, carrot greens are not eaten. In France and other European countries the leaves are minced into salads and soups, where the fresh, slightly bitter taste is greatly prized.
Carrot skins contain 10 percent of all nutrients found in carrots.
The USDA completed studies showing that 7 ounces of carrots consumed every day for three weeks lowered cholesterol levels by 11 percent. This was probably due to the calcium pectate, a type of fiber found in carrots. A good percentage is lost in juicing as mentioned above.
Before the 15th century, orange carrots were nowhere to be seen. There were only purple, yellow, red, and white carrots cultivated. These old varieties are making a comeback in green markets and farm stands across the country.
A Byte of Carrot History
- The longest carrot, recorded in 1996, was 5.14 meters (16 feet 10-1/2 inches).
- Carrots were first grown as a medicine, not a food.
- Anglo Saxons included carrots as an ingredient in a medicinal drink to ward off the devil and insanity.
- The heaviest carrot on record, so far, weighed 18.985 pounds, and was harvested in 1998 by John V. R. Evans, an American farmer.
- Carrots were the first vegetable to be canned commercially.
- Holtville, California is known as "The Carrot Capital of the World."
Chef's Tip for Seasoning Carrots
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