By Cat, Aug 2007 and updated Jan 2012 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
Ever since I was a toddler, I’ve loved carrots, especially when freshly pulled from the garden and rinsed. Of course, as a toddler, I didn’t wait for the rinsing – I ate them dirt, greens and all. I love carrots in cooked in soups, stews, with roasted meats, or with peas. I love them raw in salads or as crudite. Heck, I just love carrots.
See Creamy, Chilled, Raw Carrot Soup – excellent anytime – but especially when preparing for a juice fast, or slowly breaking a fast. Depending on where you are in the process, you may need to omit the coconut milk.
The first year of my garden, my carrots didn’t grow much in the roots, but there were all those carrot greens! I didn’t know what to do with them, but they reminded me (in looks) of parsley, and I’d been putting parsley in my smoothies, so I decided to try that with the carrot tops. It was great….until I read somewhere that carrot greens are toxic.
Since then I’ve been researching this toxicity issue and have concluded that since many members of the carrot family are toxic in the greens (like parsnip greens), people assume that carrot greens are toxic too. And perhaps if you ate a whole bunch at one time, you might notice some problems. But a little bit at a time, unless you have an alergy to them, they should not be problematic. So, I continue to add them to my smoothies when I have the greens. For more about carrot greens, see The Carrot Museum (UK) (1), which discusses the toxicity question, medicinal use of carrot greens, carrot recipes for tea, soups, salads, pesto and gumbo.
See Creamy, Chilled, Raw Carrot Soup that is excellent anytime, but especially when preparing for a juice fast, or slowly breaking a fast. Depending on where you are in the process, you may need to omit the coconut milk.
Nutrients in carrots
Carrots contain higher levels of betacarotene (vitamin A precursor) than any other food. They also provide important minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, all of which help build strong bones and a healthy nervous system. They also provide potassium and copper; also vitamins C, B6, thiamine and folic acid; and good fiber!
Not all carrots are orange; in fact, they come in many colors, with each color providing a different nutrient profile. From Mercola (2):
- Red — Lycopene and beta-carotene pigment, linked to a lower risk of certain cancers, including prostate cancer;
- Yellow — Xanthophylls and lutein are associated with cancer prevention and eye health;
- Orange — Beta and alpha carotene pigment are precursors to vitamin A;
- White — Mild, with high fiber content;
- Purple — Anthocyanin, beta and alpha carotenes may provide extra vitamin A for heart disease protection; have a sweeter and sometimes “peppery” flavor.
Best way to cook carrots
While raw carrots have their place, boiling whole carrots (peel on, and not cut up) provide the most nutritional value, according to Dr. Mercola (2) – but scrub them first. Once they are cooked, you can cut them up, chop or shred them.
Try cooking a mix of colored carrots with some garlic, chopped onion, and chopped celery in a good homemade chicken stock for a great soup.