Yes… carrots really are good for you!
With the wide variety of exotic vegetables available to us these days, it is easy to forget the humble carrot!
But carrots are nutritional heroes, storing a goldmine of nutrients that are rarely available in such potent amounts from other fruits and vegetables.
No other vegetable or fruit contains as much beta-carotene as carrots, which the body converts to vitamin A (a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in, among other things, immune system function, growth, bone formation, reproduction and wound healing). One humble carrot provides more than 200% of your daily requirement of vitamin A.
I have to say my love of carrots has been a long time coming (I hated them for years, mostly thanks to the way my poor mum boiled them to death during my childhood).
But now I know how versatile they are – carrots can be eaten raw, boiled, baked, roasted or juiced – and don’t always taste the same, so if you are not crazy about one particular method of cooking, you can try another way.
And they are cheap (even the organic ones) and an excellent source of vitamins B and C as well as calcium pectate, an extraordinary pectin fibre that has been found to have cholesterol-lowering properties.
So I’m going to share two of my favourite ways with carrots…
First up is a juice and even my vegetable-phobic daughters will drink this!
Lemon and Ginger Zinger
1 inch slice of lemon – where possible, wax free and with rind
¼ inch of fresh ginger
2 ice cubes
Simply juice the lot and pour over ice!
Carrot and Star Anise Puree
This dish made me consider carrots again! (I omit the cream except at Christmas! It still tastes great.)
1kg carrots, peeled and sliced
Small handful tarragon leaves
4 star anise
400ml vegetable or chicken stock
200ml double cream
Juice of 1 lemon
Melt the butter in a large, shallow pan. Add the carrots, tarragon and star anise. Slowly cook for 10 mins until the carrots are glazed and starting to soften. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer everything for 20 mins until cooked and the stock has reduced.
Pour in the cream, bring back to the boil and simmer for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat, take out the star anise and stir through the lemon juice. Season to taste, then blitz with a hand blender until as smooth as possible. The purée can now be chilled or frozen, then gently reheated before serving.