The humble carrot is not always the highlight of most recipes, but this orange (and sometimes white, yellow or purple) vegetable has a lot to brag about.
Carrots are part of the Umbelliferae family along with celery, parsnips, fennel, and anise. These savory vegetables add great flavor to several dishes. Research suggests that eating more vegetables containing beta carotene, such as carrots, can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. 1
Carrots are also known for their prevention of heart disease. A large Dutch study including over 20,000 men and women found that eating just ½ a carrot a day reduced the risk of heart disease by 32%!2 Carrots are not only nutritious, they’re also inexpensive and versatile. Below are a dozen ways to enjoy them!
- Add shredded carrots to quick bread or smoothies. It’s an easy way to sneak them into food.
- Carrot raisin salad. Carrots are naturally sweet and pair nicely with raisins, pineapple and light dressing. Combine 4 cups shredded carrots with ¾ cup golden or dark raisins and ½ cup fresh or canned pineapple. Whisk together ¼ cup light mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice with 2 Tbsp. honey. Toss shredded carrots, raisins, and pineapple in dressing.
- Roasted carrots. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice clean carrots lengthwise and cut into 4” pieces. Place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush them with olive oil then dust them with cinnamon, cumin, and seasoned salt. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes until tender.
- Add diced carrots to soup, stew, or chili for color, flavor, and texture.
- Enjoy raw carrots with hummus, baba ganoush, or yogurt dip.
- Add shredded carrots to tossed salads or pasta salads.
- Cut carrots into matchsticks and add to your favorite stir-fries. Their beautiful color and texture are great in several dishes.
- Try carrot & date muffins. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup rolled oats, 1 cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup brown sugar, ½ tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. baking soda, and 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon). Add ½ cup chopped dates and 3 medium carrots (shredded) and toss with flour mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 egg with ¼ cup corn oil, 1 cup milk, and 2 tsp. vanilla extract. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour batter into lined muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until done. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
- Enjoy grilled carrots! Cut carrots lengthwise into 5” pieces. Brush with olive oil then dust with oregano, salt, and pepper. Grill until soft.
- Try honey-roasted carrots with rosemary. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut 4 large carrots into 4” pieces. In a small saucepan, combine 2 Tbsp. butter, 2 tsp honey, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Place carrots on a parchment paper-lined baking pan and drizzle the honey butter over them. Dust the carrots with dried rosemary before baking for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Sauteed carrots with orange and cardamom. Peel and cut 2 lbs. of carrots and slice them diagonally into ¼” cuts. In a large saucepan, combine 1/3 cup orange juice, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 Tbsp. butter and ½ tsp. cardamom. Cover the pan and simmer the carrots for 10 to 15 minutes until soft.
- Carrot ginger salad. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups shredded carrots with ¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, ½ cup chopped pecans, 1 cup golden raisins and 2 chopped Granny Smith apples. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup vanilla yogurt and 2 tsp. minced ginger or ginger paste. Pour the yogurt dressing over the carrot mixture and blend well before serving.
1. Key, T. et. al, Carotenoids, retinol, tocopherols, and prostate cancer risk: pooled analysis of 15 studies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 102, Issue 5, November 2015, Pages 1142–1157
2. Silva Dias, Nutritional and Health Benefits of Carrots, Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2014, 5:2147-2156
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD