At this time of year, if we eat food that is grown locally and in line with the seasons, there is a big change in the type of vegetables available to us. One root vegetable that is generally available at this time of year, and most of the year round, is the carrot. Did you know that the orange carrot that we know (and love) was developed by Europeans in the seventeenth century and prior to this carrots were purple!
Carrots are an ideal source of antioxidants – in particular carotenoids. They contain a high amount of beta-carotene, the antioxidant that protects your DNA by preventing free radicals from causing damage to your cells – this damage is what leads eventually to degenerative diseases. Carrots are also said to have cancer preventing powers. They provide vitamin C, iron and folate. Juiced carrots in particular provide the body with calcium and digestive enzymes, and are great for detoxing (read our article on detox here). Nutritionally, carrots are excellent for usand the bonus is that they taste great!
It is time to forget boring carrots cooked in boiling water. Below we list ten suggestions on how to use or cook carrots to make the most of this versatile vegetable and to give your body an antioxidant boost during these cold winter months.
Put two large carrots and two centimetres of ginger through your juicer (maybe with a small slice of lemon too) to make a simple and warming pick me up juice, great to drink at any time of the day. Add more ginger for extra zing!
2. Make a dip
Creamy carrot dip is one dip that our guests love here at the retreat. It is so simple to make. Peel and finely chop one onion, then lightly steam fry until soft. Add two large carrots and one medium sweet potato (diced) and cook for a further 10 minutes in a little water. Add more water to just cover the vegetables and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and reserve the water. Add ginger juice (from 2cm chunk of ginger) and a handful of toasted walnuts, then blend it all in a blender until smooth – add more of the reserved water until you achieve your desired consistency. You can also add cinnamon to give it that winter Christmas taste. This dip is a great alternative to a sauce.
3. Cook on the stove top
Why not try our long stew carrots with tarragon? Peel your carrots and cut into thick slices or chunks. Put them in a pan with some water and lightly steam fry for five minutes. Then add tarragon, a little more water (to cover the base of the pan) and turn the heat down low. Leave to cook for 1 hour 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and add more water when needed to prevent sticking. Serve with vegan lasagna, or nut roast. Yum
4. Make soup
Our favourite is carrot and coriander soup (find our recipe here). Carrots also make a good addition to other soups like minestrone, winter root vegetable, carrot and celeriac or roast squash and carrot.
5. Roast them
Cut the carrots into strips like chips (fries) and then roast them in a medium oven for 30 minutes or so – maybe drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the top and add rosemary or paprika before roasting. Carrot fries make a light alternative to sweet potato or potato chips.
6. Make a dressing
A lovely dressing to pour over salad or even roasted vegetables is made from carrot and ginger: juice the carrot and ginger, then combine with olive oil and lemon juice. Easy
7. Mash them
Cut into small chunks and boil, then mash with some ground black pepper. To add variety cook with turnip or swede and mash. A great alternative to mashed potatoes!
8. Serve raw
Cut into sticks and serve with hummus, or grate raw into a salad for maximum nutrition. Carrot and cumin salad (grated carrot dressed with cumin, lemon juice and olive oil) is a tasty accompaniment to any salad.
9. Make a cake
Vegan carrot cake, with cashew nut dressing, is a tasty way to eat your carrots. This is a popular treat sometimes served on Fridays at La Crisalida!
10. Make a dhal
One of our favourite recipes here at La Crisalida is carrot dhal – using lentils, onions, garlic, ginger, other spices and carrots to make a filling dhal.
There are loads more recipes for carrots. Experiment and have fun. And, if you have a favourite carrot recipe, do let us know. We are always keen to try new recipes!