The Versatile Carrot
by Paulette Millis
One of the world's leading vegetable crops, carrots originated in Europe and were introduced to America during early colonization. Carrots are derived from the wild carrot, called Queen Anne's Lace, and are a member of the parsley family (Umbelliferae), that includes parsley, parsnips, celery, caraway, cumin, and dill.
The Greek word for carrot, 'philon,' comes from the Greek word for love, as the carrot was considered an aphrodisiac. Current research confirms that the carrot packs a nutritional wallop and it therefore may stimulate the sexual appetite!
Throughout the past carrots have been touted as "good for the eyes" and in World War II they were used in aerial training schools to improve the eyesight.
The carrot is a root vegetable, generally with a long, slender shape, although there are short, stocky, and baby carrots available. When my children were young, I grew "Oxheart" carrots, a very fat, short carrot, as they were easily pulled by small hands to eat fresh.
Carrots grow well in well-cultivated, loose, fertile, moist, well-drained soils. Heavy soils and fresh compost or manure causes forked roots to form. Use well-rotted organic materials only for smooth, well formed carrots. Maturity takes approximately three months and carrots are an easy vegetable to raise in our climate, as they are resistant to frost.
See the table right for nutrients in one pound of carrots. As you can see, they are VERY low in calories, VERY high in vitamin A, and have a high water content.
Carrots contain many phytochemicals: carotenoids, flavonoids, coumarins, sulforaphane, and phenolic acids. Carotenoids and flavonoids are
anti-oxidants. They protect vision, prevent degenerative disease (eg. arthritis, heart disease, diabetes), reduce accumulation of plaque in arteries, block carcinogens, suppress malignant changes, keep collagens healthy, and improve symptoms of allergy and asthma. Sulforaphane protects against cancer by production of good enzymes, thus helping the body to ward off potential carcinogens. Phenolic acids resist cancer by prohibiting cell proliferation, inhibit platelet activity, and decrease inflammation. We hear a lot about the benefit of raw carrots, but did you know cooking almost doubles the availability of carotenoids and other phytochemicals? Overcooking, on the other hand, reduces all available nutrients.
NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICINAL INFORMATION
|Nutrients in one pound
Chart from Foods That Heal, Dr. Bernard Jensen
Many studies link low beta-carotene (abundant in carrots, apricots, mangoes, peaches, broccoli, and others) to increased risk of many forms of cancer. Beta-carotene can significantly block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, say studies regarding atherosclerosis and heart disease. The carrot appears to be a cholesterol buster!
Carrots can prevent the formation of troublesome nitrosamines—cancer-causing compounds that are formed during normal digestion after ingesting, for example, nitrates, a commonly used food preservative. Nitrosamines can destroy DNA which leads to cancerous changes in cells.
Carrots contain much roughage and are therefore good in all cases of constipation (Bernard Jensen, Foods That Heal). Doctor Jensen also contends that it is good for young children to chew a raw carrot before each meal to help straighten teeth, develop the lower jaw and promote normal growth of bones and teeth.
Carrot juice is an excellent body builder and is used in treatment of many illnesses. It is most delicious and nutritious when combined with other veggies (see recipe below).
BUYING AND STORING
Choose firm, smooth, well-shaped carrots with good colour, without cracks or dry spots. Carrots with many small rootlets are old. Frozen carrots are available in whole, sliced, or crinkle-cut forms. It is best to choose fresh or frozen as canned products are nutrient deficient.
Dehydrating carrots is also a great way to store that garden surplus. Adding dehydrated carrots to various dishes increases their vitamin A, calcium, and phosphorus content.
Refrigerate carrots in plastic bags for short term storage; trim, peel and blanch for longer storage. When I was a child we packed our carrots in boxes of sand and stored them in the cellar. Vendors at the Farmer's Market have root cellars with the appropriate temperature to maintain carrots throughout the year.
The joy of the carrot is its versatility. Raw, it is used as a garnish, carrot sticks, salad, added to salads, shredded and added to sandwich fillings, and as juice. Cooked carrots are used plain as a vegetable, stir fried, in casseroles, soups, stews, muffins, cakes, cookies, bars, pancakes, breads, pastas, etc...
My family's favourite
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg & allspice
In another bowl, mix:
1 1/2 cups melted honey
1 cup olive oil
Add flour mixture.
2 cups finely shredded raw carrots (about six medium sized)
8 ounces crushed, drained pineapple
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Stir until well mixed.
Oil and flour a thirteen by nine inch pan. Bake at 325°F for 40 to 55 minutes.
Cool on rack. Ice with cream cheese icing.
Carrots In Cream Sauce*
1 large or 2 small carrots
1 teaspoon butter
1/8 teaspoon thyme
Sea salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons sour cream or yogurt
1 teaspoon milk or rice/nut milk
Wash the carrot(s) and cut into long, thin strips. Melt butter in a pan and sauté the carrot strips for 8 minutes or until they are still slightly crunchy. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper and remove pan from heat. Stir in the sour cream or yogurt and the milk and re-heat. Serve hot.
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup grated apple
In small bowl, combine:
1 tbsp. flax oil
1 1/2 tbsp. orange juice
1 tsp. lemon juice
Add to carrots and mix well. Serve immediately or store in fridge.
Add soaked raw pumpkin and/or raw sunflower seeds.
"Excellent for building and
healing the body"
To make approximately one quart, clean the following (organic if possible):
7 to 8 large fresh carrots
1/2 medium beet
1 stalk celery
Piece of peeled fresh ginger, size of thumbnail
Sprig of fresh parsley
Put through juicer and enjoy!
1 cup finely grated carrots
1/2 cup finely grated zucchini
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup whole grain flour
2 tbsp. parmesan cheese
dash garlic powder
Blend (may combine in a bowl for a pancake with more texture).
Spread on medium hot skillet in thin circles and cook until browned. Flip and brown other side. Yummy with a dab of butter and a sprinkle of sea salt.
* Taken from Nutrition, Cooking & Healing, P.Millis
References: Foods That Heal, Bernard Jensen, MD; Earl Mindell's Vitamin Bible, Earl Mindell; The Whole Foods Encyclopedia, Rebecca Wood; PowerFoods, Stephanie Beling, MD; Food and Nutrition Encyclopedia Second Edition; Complete Guide to Food and Cooking, Better Homes and Gardens.
The above is information regarding nutritious foods and is not intended to replace any instruction from medical or health professionals.
Paulette Millis lives and works in Saskatoon
as a counsellor and nutritional consultant. Her book, Eat Away Illness, and cookbook, Nutrition, Cooking and Healing, are available in health food stores or by calling Paulette at (306) 244-8890, emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting www.healingwithnutrition.ca.