To say I am fond of carrots is an understatement. Once while doing a detox cleanse I ate so many carrots and drank so much carrot juice that my hands and feet turned bright yellow. Turns out that a glass of carrot juice contains more than 25,000 IU’s of pro-vitamin A. I got carotenemia, an excess of carotene in the blood as my poor liver could not keep up with converting the carotenes to Vitamin A, so my body decided to store it in my extremities. Lucky for me it is temporary.
And the old saying, ‘I liked it so much I bought the company’ rings true with me, too, as I have been a co-operative member/owner of The Big Carrot Natural Food Market in Toronto for more than 12 years.
Needless to say, I just gush at the farmers’ market when I see the heirloom carrots come in. Heirlooms are precious unmodified fruits and vegetables, passed down through generations like your coveted grandfather clock. They are grown in their purest genetic form using the same seeds for at least 50 years. Heirlooms do no not need artificial pesticides and fertilizers so they are as kind to the environment as they are to us. And they come in purple, red, pink, orange, yellow!
7 healthy reasons to fall in love with carrots
1. Purple carrots get their colour from anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that is anti-inflammatory. That means that you will age more slowly.
2. Red carrots contain lycopene, the same antioxidant that makes tomatoes all the rage for cancer prevention.
3. The extra sweet yellow carrots contain lutene that fights macular degeneration and assures development of healthy eyes.
4. A new phytonutrient called falcarinol is being researched for its ability to fight colon cancer. Carrots also boast four grams of fibre per cup (up there with the average bowl of cereal), making it a great cancer-fighter.
5. Carrots are a good source of vitamin C with one large carrot packing about 20 percent of your daily needs.
6. These multi-coloured beauties also have 20 percent of your daily need of vitamin K, a nutrient that works with calcium to strengthen your bones.
7. Carrots also have 395 mg of potassium per cup. This nutrient helps to reduce your blood pressure and assure good fluid balance in your tissues.
What to do with your carrots
All the many types of heirloom carrots taste differently. The purple ones I tried have a natural pepper back note, the red ones fruity, the yellow ones sweet and clean.
When I got home from the market I decided I would keep them raw and make a marinated ribbon carrot salad so that the distinctive tastes could shine through with each bite. As carrots belong to the imbelliferae family along with their cousins caraway, coriander, cumin, dill and fennel, I decided to spice the salad with those herbs as their flavours blend so perfectly.
Marinated Ribbon Carrot Salad
3 cups heirloom carrots, sliced into ribbons
1 cup fennel bulb, sliced very thin
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup dill, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cidar vinegar
1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce
1/2 tsp caraway seed
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1 garlic clove, crushed
1. Slice the carrots into thin, long ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Slice fennel extra thin.
2. Place the carrot strips and fennel in a mixing bowl and add seeds, dill and cilantro.
3. For dressing add the caraway, cumin, garlic, vinegar, oil, honey, tamari soy sauce into a cup and mix well.
4. Add the dressing to the salad and toss gently. Marinate for 2-8 hours. Enjoy fresh if time is limited as it still tastes wonderful.
5. Before serving, garnish with an extra sunflower seeds and chopped dill and coriander.
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts the Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her soon to be published first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.
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