Bulletin #4175, Vegetables and Fruits for Health: Carrots
Revised and updated by Extension Professor Kathleen Savoie, University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
Originally developed by Extension Nutrition Specialist Nellie Hedstrom, University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
Carrots, which are a member of the parsley family, were grown in New England as early as the middle 1600s. In addition to the orange ones we normally eat, carrots are also available in red, purple, yellow, black, and white varieties. About two billion pounds of carrots are grown in the United States each year, mainly in Texas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California. Maine-grown carrots are available from July through February.
The deep yellow to deep orange color of carrots indicates that they are an excellent source of carotene, which your body converts to the antioxidant, vitamin A. They are also a good source of vitamin C (also an antioxidant) and fiber. Carrot juice is a good source of potassium, which helps maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Choose smooth, well-colored, firm carrots. Avoid carrots that are wilted, flabby, or cracked, or that have large green areas at the top. Small carrots are more tender than large ones. If you buy carrots with the tops still on, make sure that they are bright green and fresh looking.
Store carrots in a closed plastic bag or container in the refrigerator. Carrots will keep well in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Remove the leafy green tops before storing, because they absorb moisture from the carrots and cause them to shrivel. If carrots do become wilted, they can be re-crisped in cold water.
Raw: Carrot sticks are a colorful addition to a vegetable platter. Shred or slice carrots to add to a salad. To make raw carrots easier to chew, briefly steam or microwave them until they are crisp-tender.
Steaming: Peel and cut carrots into quarter-inch slices. Steam until crisp-tender (8 to 10 minutes for 2 cups). To steam, bring an inch of water to a boil and place a colander or a collapsible steaming basket in the pot. Put the vegetables in the colander or steamer and cover it tightly. Reduce heat to medium-low, but make sure that the temperature is high enough to keep the water bubbling.
Microwaving: Peel and cut carrots into quarter-inch slices and place in a 1-quart covered dish. Add 2 tablespoons of water and microwave. Microwave 2 cups of cut carrots at high power for 3 to 7 minutes. Make sure to stir once during cooking.
Flavor Enhancers: Dill, coriander, tarragon
Glazed Dijon Carrots
16 ounces baby carrots
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a saucepan, bring carrots to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender. Drain. Place carrots in a serving dish and keep warm. In the same pan, melt butter. Add brown sugar, mustard, ginger, and salt; cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour over carrots and toss to coat.
Crunchy Carrot Salad
3 cups fresh grated carrots
2 unpeeled red apples, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds (optional)
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine carrots, apples, raisins, and almonds in a salad bowl. Blend together remaining ingredients in a separate bowl and add to carrot mixture. Serve on salad greens.
Some content adapted with permission from University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension.
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