Spring

Seasonal Ingredients: The Health Benefits of Carrots

 
carrots_voeden_life

The health benefits of eating carrots range from improving vision and warding off certain cancers to anti-aging and reducing the risk of heart disease, carrots pack a pretty awesome punch.

  • They are loaded with beta carotene which boosts the immune system, protects cells
    from damaging free radicals, and helps the reproductive system function properly.  

  • They build healthy skin, tissue and teeth. 

  • They reduce the risk of macular degeneration when eaten daily. 
     

But if you want to get the most benefit from consuming carrots, follow these three simple rules: 

1 - But whole carrots, not baby carrots.

It is rumored that baby carrots are soaked in chlorine or bleach. The interwebs give conflicting information on this one, but the owner of our local grocery store literally handed me a bag of whole carrots and told me to put the baby carrots back on the shelf while telling me that they bleach baby carrots so they are all the same bright orange color. (Why he doesn't just stop carrying them, I'm not sure). 

Baby carrots also do not contain all the awesome phytonutrients found in wild carrots. This may be because companies are more interested in a longer shelf life than the nutrient profile. But why miss out on the health benefits of whole carrots? They are just as convenient as the babies - see the point below.

2 - Buy organic and keep the skin on. 

If you buy organic carrots, you do not need to peel the skin off. Simply wash and scrub the carrot and enjoy - easy peasy. The skin has nutrients too!

3 - Eat a carrot every day.

In a study done in the Netherlands, participants who ate as little as 1/4 cup carrots every day significantly reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat carrots:

  1. Slightly steamed and topped with a little olive oil. This is probably the most simple way to enjoy a cooked carrot, just slice and steam until fork tender. Drizzle with salt and a good quality olive oil and enjoy. 

  2. Roasted carrots are to die for! I'm a big fan of Ina Garten's recipe for roasted carrots. You just roast carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper. Once they are fork tender serve topped with fresh cut dill!  Literally doesn't get much easier than this. 

  3. Juice them. Carrot Ginger Juice is pretty common in most juice bars these days and for great reason. Toss a 1.5 cups of carrots with a 1/2" of fresh grated ginger, 8 oz. coconut water, 1 clementine and the juice of one lemon into a high-speed food processor. Puree until smooth and enjoy immediately. Here's another great recipe to try.

  4. Toss into your salad. Using a large grater, grate a few carrots and toss into your salad. Add beets and apples too for a deliciously well balanced, nutrient-rich combo.  

carrot ginger brown rice bowl

carrot ginger brown rice bowl

carrot cake patties

carrot cake patties

curried carrot soup

curried carrot soup

Our Spring meal plans are loaded with healthy doses of carrots. Get a free taste!

 

Click here to tRY OUT A SPRING MEAL PLAN FOR FREE! 

Don't Fear the Fritter

 

Fritters are our friends, these versatile little guys are a great way to pack a ton of nutrient dense veggies into one easy to make, easy to eat dish.

Take them from breakfast to dinner with just a few simple tweaks. Like a broken record, we always suggest making a double batch of your favorite veggie fritter because they transition so easily from breakfast to dinner and they freeze well (hello time savings!)

Think of a fritter as a pancake - you just quickly whip up the batter and fry them up (with a few extra tricks). It's that simple. 

Here are a few pro-tips that will make you feel more confident when making vegetable fritters. I've had a few people reach out as of late and ask me if we could give some guidance on how to make the best fritter, so we got together and shared our pro-tips for fritter frying. If you have some leave them in the comments, we'd love to hear! 

1. Use the right tools, a mandolin or a food processor. They are going to quickly slice and dice your vegetables into a fairly uniform size so that everything cooks evenly in the pan.

2. Get as much water out as possible. After you chop the vegetables place them into a large bowl and just mix them up with your hands, add a large pinch of salt to the vegetable mixture and let it stand for about 4-5 min. This will help draw the excess water out from the vegetables and make frying way more enjoyable (less splatter, fewer burn opportunities, less mush).

3. Don't be afraid to get messy. After waiting for 5 min. drain the water from your bowl, and then take the vegetable mixture in hand and squeeze out any excess water until its pretty dry.

4. Using coconut oil, will change your world. If you're a traditional extra virgin olive oil lover, prepare to have your mind blown. Coconut oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil. The smoke point refers to the point at which the oil begins to decompose and break down, and could lead to the formation of toxicological relevant compounds are formed (think carcinogens).

5. Don't manhandle your fritters. Once you drain your fritters and squeeze out all of the water, fluff everything back up, this will help you have a lighter, more airy texture. Unless you like dense patty-like fritters be a little more delicate when making them.

6. You only need to flip one time to brown both sides. This is where a little patience comes into practice, once you place your mixture into the pan allow it to cook for a few minutes on each side before you flip. When you flip too often not only do you risk the chance of the fritter breaking apart but you could also dry out your fritter.

If you have a few extra fritters leftover after dinner, be excited (insert happy dance) because these are great for breakfast the next day. I am obsessed with topping my fritter with a poached or fried egg, a little Basil Greek Yogurt (see recipe below) and a side of fresh fruit.

Basil Greek Yogurt Recipe:

  • 1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbs. fresh basil, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 of a lemon

Add an egg if you're fancy and even if you're not fancy, just add the egg and the basil yogurt sauce, you'll thank us later.