Root for the Carrot

Crazy for carrots?  Haley Drayton, Laura Estabrooks, Sophie Phang, Kristi Schofield & Jenna Whitlock, nutrition students at Acadia University, tell us all about this lovely root vegetable.

Nutritional Value: Carrots are popular for good reason as they have numerous health benefits. Carrots may be white, red, yellow, orange or purple. Each type of carrot contains slightly varying amounts of antioxidants; however; they all contain many beneficial nutrients. This root vegetable is most well known for being a great source of the antioxidant beta carotene which is converted to Vitamin A in the body making carrots a great source of this vitamin. Vitamin A is known for being for its benefits to your skin, eyes and immune system. Other than Vitamin A, carrots are also sources of Vitamin K and C. They contain insoluble fibre which aids in digestion. There are approximately 50 calories in one cup of cooked carrot.

Food Preparation: Carrots can be served in their raw form or cooked. They may be grated and used in baking or added to salads and other recipes. They come in many varieties of packaging and sizes. Baby-cut carrots are small and great for snacking, while regular carrots are more likely to be cooked and served with a meal.

Impacts of Cooking: Common methods for cooking carrots include steaming, boiling, braising, roasting, stir frying and microwaving. These cooking techniques emphasize the natural sugars in carrots creating a caramelized exterior. Carrots are an excellent source of carotene which gives carrots their bright orange color.  The acidity of the water carrots are boiled in will not modify the color of the carotenoid pigment. When carrots are boiled for a long time the nutrients in the carrot can migrate towards the water. Nearly every food preparation process that involves high levels of heat, light and oxygen reduces the amount of nutrients in foods. Carrots should only be cooked until they are tender crisp to ensure maximum flavour and nutritional value.

Recipe: Simple Honey Glazed Baby Carrots

Ingredients:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds baby carrots

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons packed brown sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon

freshly ground black pepper or chopped parsley, for garnish

Preparation:

  • Rinse carrots under cold water and put in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and add salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and continue cooking for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
  • In a saute pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add honey and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon juice and gently stir in carrots, coating well. Continue heating, gently stirring, until carrots are hot and glazed. Serve immediately garnished with freshly ground pepper or chopped parsley, if desired.
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