Crisp, versatile and rich in vitamin A, carrots are a great choice on busy weeknights and well worth utilizing all year long — not just in the throes of winter, when root vegetables dominate the produce scene.
Carrots are derived from a Middle Eastern crop called Queen Anne’s lace. This wild ancestor is also a taproot crop, but has a white root.
For thousands of years, the carrot was not a popular vegetable because it had a woody texture and was difficult to eat. A subspecies of this plant has been selectively bred over centuries to produce the crisp and sweet garden vegetables that we eat today. Today, the largest producers of carrots are China, the United States, Poland, Japan, and France.
Carrots are rich in vitamin A and can supply more than 100 percent of the recommended daily value in just one serving!
They also contain vitamin B6, vitamin K, and modest amounts of other essential nutrients.
Carrots help to:
- Improve eyesight
- Prevent heart diseases
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Maintain good digestive health
- Boost immune system
- Regulate blood sugar levels
- Reduce the risk of cancer and stroke
Variations of Carrots
Did you know carrots used to come in a variety of colors, like white, purple, and yellow? They still do, but the widely popular orange carrot is no accident.
Today’s orange carrots are a result of 17th-century patriotic Dutch agriculturists. Different variations and mutants were cross-bred until a carrot was born that represented the color of the Dutch Royal Family, orange.
Here are a few variations you may find in your grocery:
- Imperator Carrots: The classic orange carrot. Long and fibrous with a tapered end.
- Nantes Carrots: Like the Imperator, but more cylindrical with a rounded bottom. These are easiest to grow at home and have a sweeter flavor.
- Chantenay Carrots: These are short and stout.
- Mini or Radish-Style Carrots: These are little nuggets that may be either cylindrical (Babette Carrots) or round (Romeo Carrots)
- Baby-Cut Carrots: The perfectly shaped and shaven “Baby Carrots” you see packaged at the store are simply larger carrots that have been cut into small, cylindrical shapes. A specific type of large carrot is bred to make these — a carrot that is thinner, sweeter, and has a more uniform orange color. And while this may seem like an unnecessary step between growing and eating, baby carrots account for 80 percent of carrot sales in the U.S.
Roasted Parmesan Carrots
- 16ozBaby Carrots
- 1TbspOlive oil
- 1Tbspgarlic powder
- 1/2tspSalt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh thyme, to top
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place carrots in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil all over then sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Using your hands, rub and toss the carrots to make sure they're coated well.
- Before placing in the oven, grate fresh parmesan cheese on top of the carrots (as much or as little as you like) then bake for 30 minutes or until carrots are fork tender. Make sure to shake the pan halfway through and toss the carrots.