Remember when carrots were just plain orange? Times have changed and grocery stores and farmer’s markets are now offering carrot varietals in hues ranging from purple to red and yellow – even black! Some fun varieties include cosmic purple, solar yellow and atomic red. Hopefully, with their fresh look, comes a newfound appreciation for this classic vegetable, because they have a lot of nutrition and flavor to offer.
Carrots are a good source of multiple vitamins like folate and B6, but they are a standout when it comes to vitamin A. One large carrot has over 200 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. They also contain fiber and potassium. Their primary pigment, beta carotene, has antioxidant properites and helps protect the body’s cells from damage. Diets high in beta carotene (and other types of carotenoids) have been linked to decreased risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, skin damage and age-related eye problems like macular degeneration and cataracts.
What to Look for
Carrots are one of those vegetables that you will always find stocked in the grocery store, but the flavor and quality can sometimes be lacking. Look for firm carrots with vibrant coloring (the pigments fade with time) and, ideally, the greens still intact because they will show age more quickly than the sturdy carrot root. Carrots with splits and cracks aren’t ideal, but are fine to use espcially if they will be cooked. If carrots have a whitish appearance they are likley older and drying out which makes them less flavorful, but still OK for roasting or including in a soup or stew.
This Month’s Recipe: Carrot Apple Salad with Yogurt Honey Dressing
For this month’s recipe, the fresher the carrot the better! It mixes two sweet and crunchy foods – shredded raw carrots and chopped apples – with tart plain yogurt and savory sunflower and seasame seeds for great flavor and texture. This recipe couldn’t be easier with no cooking needed and only seven ingredients. Plus, it is best if you make ahead and let it sit in the fridge to allow the flavors to come together, making it perfect for a springtime gathering with friends or maybe for the first picnic or barbecue of the year!
Other Ways to Use Carrots
Other interesting ways to use carrots this spring are to cut them in thick strips and bake in the oven for a fun and healthy twist on french fries. Or use a peeler or mandolin to create carrot “noodles” to have with your favorite sauce or primavera style topped with shaved parmaeasan cheese. Shredded carrots can be added to almost any red sauce, stir fry or casserole (think mac and cheese, lasagna or shepard’s pie) to add fiber and nutrients without altering the flavor too drastically. Shredded carrots can also be combined with shredded potatoes to make latkes (potato pancakes) or hash, both a perfect accompaniment to eggs. Carrots are one of the first crops of the year so this is a great time rediscover them and get creative!
For more on carrots including recipes, fun facts and even book recommendations, check out the Vermont Harvest of the Month’s website.
Carrot Apple Salad with Yogurt Honey Dressing
- 8ozyogurt, plain, non-fat
- 1/4cupsesame seeds
- 2cupscarrots, shredded
- 3cupsapples, unpeeled, chopped
- 1/2cupsunflower seeds
- Combine yogurt, honey and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Mix well and chill.
- In large bowl, mix carrots, apples, raisins, sunflower seeds and dressing. Chill briefly before serving.