That’s what I was doing last night at about 3:30. My baby boy has a cold and woke up throughout the night; after the 3 a.m. “Mama!!!” S.O.S., I could not return to sleep (especially knowing that it was up and at ‘em in two hours).
So I snuggled on the sofa, opened my bedtime brain-candy book (at present, a mystery—Uniform Justice, by Donna Leon–all of her mysteries are set in Venice with plenty of mention of food), and munched on some carrots.
Perhaps because they are considered a “staple” vegetable, carrots receive minimal interest and even less enthusiasm. Cellophane bags-full of baby carrots have given carrot munching a boost, but my non-scientific assessment is that there remains a ho-hum carrot consensus amongst American consumers.
Now, in the relative light of day (another cold, wet, grey one here), I can think more clearly, and it seems like high time to discuss the perfection of carrots.
Crunchy, sweet, cheap, always available (even in some gnarly gas station convenience stores), and endlessly versatile (once I wrap my brain around them)—so praiseworthy, and that’s before considering their health stats.
And talk about stats.
The folklore and Bugs Bunny cartoons are correct: carrots improve vision. That’s because they’re loaded with vitamin A—specifically, four times the recommended daily intake (in the form of beta-carotene) per cooked half cup.
That same beta-carotene is also a powerful antioxidant, effective in fighting against some forms of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Carrots are also a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and manganese, and a good source of vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, potassium and copper.
All of my less-than-cerebral observations, combined with my inquiries into the nutritional facts, compelled me to start peeling away this morning while Nickster napped. At first I had my sight on carrot soup, but then I decided it was crunch I craved, so I set to making an easy Moroccan-spiced carrot slaw to accompany my very plain turkey sandwich for lunch.
Carrot salads are nothing new, but the ones I see most often involve drowning in a raisin-studded sea of mayonnaise or paralysis in a molded ring of lime Jell-O.
Not so with this recipe. The carrots are stripped of all creamy dressings and gels, allowing their refreshing flavor to shine through.
I ended up putting the salad right onto my sandwich—I highly recommend doing the same. And, I don’t know if it was taking the time to make & sit down to a special lunch, or the fresh carrots and herbs themselves, but my pinched & wan complexion of this morning now seems much brighter (or maybe that’s just the onset of a fever).
- 1 and ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 and ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey if not vegan)
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika (or ¼ tsp cayenne pepper)
- 1 pound peeled carrots, coarsely grated (about 4 cups)
- ¼ cup raisins
- Optional: 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint or cilantro
- In a large bowl, whisk all of the ingredients except the carrots, raisins and optional mint. Add the carrots and raisins; toss to combine. Cover and let marinate at least 2 hours. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Add mint, if desired.