Carrots; the Crunchy Power

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Believe it or not it is carrot season in North Carolina, generally, we think of carrots mostly at Easter, but carrots are readily available year round and very very good for you!! If you don’t keep carrots in your fridge all year…then you should. Carrots can be used in a variety of ways to boost your health. Of course, they can be eaten any way from the crunchy raw snack to the gourmet recipe, or just as a healthy addition to a variety of recipes. The benefits are numerous. Fresh carrots can be found this time of year at our local Farmer’s Market, but all year long in your local grocery.

Carrots

  -Improves Vision, this one we got, as a youngster, we are taught that carrots will give you good eyesight! Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A is transformed in the retina, a purple pigment necessary for night vision.

  -Aid Preventing Cancer, studies have shown carrots reduce the risk of lung cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer.

  -Slows Down Aging, the high level of beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant to cell damage done to the body through regular metabolism. It helps slows down the aging of cells.

  -Promotes Glowing Skin, Vitamin A and antioxidants protect the skin from sun damage. Deficiencies of vitamin A cause dryness to the skin, hair, and nails. Vitamin A prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes, and uneven skin tone.

  -May Prevent Infection, Carrots are known by herbalists to prevent infection. They can be used on cuts – shredded raw or boiled and mashed.

  -Prevents Heart Disease, Studies show that diets high in carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Carrots have not only beta-carotene but also alpha-carotene and lutein. The regular consumption of carrots also reduces cholesterol levels.

  -Promotes Dental Health. The process of eating a carrot aids in cleaning your teeth and your mouth. They scrape off plaque and food particles just like toothbrushes or toothpaste. Carrots stimulate gums and trigger a lot of saliva, which being alkaline, balances out the acid-forming, cavity-forming bacteria. The minerals in carrots prevent tooth damage.

Who Doesn’t Love Carrot Cake Smoothie

Ingredients
3 medium carrots, peeled
1 1/2 bananas, frozen in chunks (trust me, if you haven’t ever frozen bananas, peel them first! I learned the hard way)
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup plain 0% Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 cup ice

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Serve immediately.

Yields 2 smoothies.

Baked Carrot Chips

Ingredients
2 pounds carrots (pick the fattest carrots you can find)
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line several large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Trim the carrot tops off. Starting on the thick end slice the carrots paper-thin on the bias to create elongated slices. You can do this with a chef’s knife, but it’s better to use a mandolin slicer on the smallest setting. When you get down to the thin end, stop and save them to use in soup or salad.
  3. Place the carrot slices in a large bowl and add the oil, salt, cumin, and cinnamon. Toss well to thoroughly coat. Then lay the slices in a single layer on the baking sheets.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges start to curl up and turn crisp. Then flip all the chips over and bake another 5-8 minutes to crisp the bottoms. Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Serves 8, each serving contains; Calories 107, Fat 7 g., Cholesterol 0 mg., Sodium 950 mg., Potassium 367 mg., Carbohydrates 11 g., Protein 1 g.

Sweet Carrot and Spicy Sriracha Hummus

Ingredients
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 cans (2.5 cups) cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup Sriracha hot sauce (or more or less, depending on spicy preference)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 tablespoons water

Instructions

  1. In a food processor or blender, add the carrots and garlic and blend until finely minced.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except for water, and blend until smooth.
  3. Gradually add a tablespoon of water at a time until hummus reaches desired consistency (keep in mind that when refrigerated, the hummus will thicken a bit more).

Roasted Carrots

Ingredients
1 pound medium carrots
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce, optional
1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Cut carrots in half lengthwise. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add olive oil and butter to pan; swirl to coat.
  2. Add carrots in a single layer; cook without stirring for 5 minutes. Stir, and arrange in a single layer; cook without stirring for 5 more minutes.
  3. Combine water, hoisin sauce, maple syrup, and salt; add to pan, and cook 1 minute or until carrots are glazed.

Serves 8, each serving contains; Calories 139, Fat 9 g., Cholesterol 4mg., Sodium 255 mg., Carbohydrates 14 g., Protein 1 g.

Parmesan Carrot Fries

Ingredients
3 large carrots, peeled, quartered, and cut into equally sized quarter-inch thick strips
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Parmesan, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Arrange the carrot strips on a parchment-lined baking sheet so that no two are overlapping. Using a basting brush, coat the tops of each strip with the olive oil. Sprinkle the thyme and garlic over the fries. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook the fries about 10-12 minutes, or until the fries are easily pierced with a fork. Immediately after removing from the oven, sprinkle the fries with Parmesan. Serve.

Serves 2, each serving contains; Calories 163, Fat 12 g., Cholesterol 5 mg., Sodium 431 mg., Carbohydrates 11 g., Protein 3 g.