Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We Love Carrots

orange is my favorite color.  i don't know if that signifies any deep meaning to anyone but orange has always been my favorite color. except of course, when red was my favorite color.  there are some that say that orange foods are healthy for you.  really? why? according to the ny times, "People with high blood levels of alpha-carotene — an antioxidant found in orange fruits and vegetables — live longer and are less likely to die of heart disease and cancer than people who have little or none of it in their bloodstream." really? why? then there are those that say that those foods are rich in vitamin A.  you can almost understand why parents are eagerly buying those annoying packages of organic baby carrots and putting them in lunch boxes all over the world. one of my heroes,  dentist & nutritional anthropologist weston a. price did much research in this area and found that vitamin A is only present in animal foods (egg yolks, fish eggs, animal livers, butter) not orange fruits and vegetables. beta-carotene, yes. vitamin A, no. sorry.  his brilliant research is documented in his equally brilliant and compelling book "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration."  

so what's all the hub-bub about carrots, good eyesight and vitamin A then?  or, better yet, how do we go from beta-carotene to Vitamin A? according to price, beta-carotene can only be converted to vitamin A in the presence of animal fat.  awesome! great news! i love animal fat! i LOVE FLAVOR! flavor is in fat! butter, cream, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, tallow, bacon grease, lard, etc. go hand in hand with vegetables in order to make them nutrient dense and healthy! perfect!  it makes so much sense, doesn't it?  when we cook vegetables for children (and even for some silly adults), we often get a fight. why? most people forget to season them. yes, i personally do believe that most vegetables are absolutely perfect and delicious on their own, just as they have sprung forth from the sadly mineral depleted earth. but, if you want them to provide all of the vitamins and minerals that they are able to provide to our bodies for optimum health, you need to properly prepare them and that means adding good healthy fat and a pinch of sea salt.  you can eat organic baby carrots all day, every day and never see a drop of vitamin A without the essential co-factor of butter, the fat that makes this FAT SOLUBLE VITAMIN accessible.  so, the next time you steam those carrots (or any vegetable for that matter), remember to put lots of really good quality butter and a generous pinch of celtic sea salt on them. speaking of carrots......

when sylvia was three years old she wrote her very first song on her own and i was so proud. it goes like this:

"we love carrots" (sung to the tune of Frère Jacques or Are You Sleeping?)

we love carrots, we love carrots
everyday, everyday
may i please have a carrot?
yes you may, you're welcome
crunch, crunch, crunch
crunch, crunch, crunch

The carrot is a root vegetable that is usually orange in color but purple, red, white, and yellow varieties exist and are available from June through October in NY and the surrounding areas. We eat the taproot of the vegetable although you can eat the greens if you really want to. I find them bitter in a bad way - not like radicchio or endive which are bitter in a good way.  

According to wikipedia, The wild ancestors of the carrot are likely to have come from Iran and Afghanistan, which remains the centre of diversity of D. carota, the wild carrotSelective breeding over the centuries of a naturally occurring subspecies of the wild carrot, Daucus carotasubsp. sativus, to reduce bitterness, increase sweetness and minimise the woody core, has produced the familiar garden vegetable. In early use, carrots were grown for their aromatic leaves and seeds, not their roots. Some relatives of the carrot are still grown for these, such as parsleyfenneldill and cumin. The first mention of the root in classical sources is in the 1st century CE. The modern carrot appears to have been introduced to Europe in the 8-10th centuries.

If you would like to geek out i invite you to get your carrot on at the World Carrot Museum (not kidding), a virtual museum whose mission is to educate, inform and amuse visitors through the collection, preservation, interpretation and exhibition of this amazing, edible root vegetable.


i always liked carrots but this past year something amazing occurred. i discovered 2 farmers at the union square market who grow carrots that are out of this world.  i already mentioned vinny & denise who introduced me to their "cowboy" carrot variety, which are sadly now gone until june which i will always gladly pay $4 per pound for (imagine that).  thankfully, about a month ago i discovered carrots ($1.50 per pound!) grown by john schmid at muddy river farm.  muddy river farm is located in new hampton, ny about 10 miles away from middletown.  known as the "black dirt region" this land used to be an old lake bottom and is famous for it's peat/muck soil which contains over 50% high organic matter and produces delicious, nutrient dense food.  John and his son Jack have been farming their 20 acres for 15 years and bring their not certified organic, but unsprayed food, to union square market on fridays only.  their carrots are being pulled from storage and will last only about another week but will soon be bringing in spinach, arugula, radish, swiss chard and more.  in the winter they grow roots and pumpkins as well as some greens in their high tunnel (unheated green house). 

I still love my raw carrots, and so do the kids. we love to crunch, crunch, crunch and do it almost every day.  however, sylvia likes to dip her carrots in raw sour cream or a simple guacamole.  henry prefers hummus. the following are my favorite cooked carrot recipes. try them, i think you will really enjoy them. they are quick and fun to make and even better to eat when you bring your beautiful, vitamin and mineral enriched family2table.

roasted carrot mash (a great alternative to mashed potatoes)
1. preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. wash and peel 12 medium carrots.
3. roughly chop carrots into pieces and toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
4. roast in the oven until golden and cooked through. (shake the pan so they don't burn)
5. slightly cool carrots and put into a food processor. (do this in batches)
6. add 1/4 -1/2 cup heavy cream and pulse. (depending on the consistency you like. i prefer my mash with big chunks of carrot still in it)
7. add 1 TBS raw honey and pulse.
8. adjust seasoning and serve alongside meat, fish or sauteed/wilted greens.

gingered carrots (this is best done ahead of time and stored in the fridge, using when needed. they will hold up to a week)
1. bring a large pot of filtered water, salt and a knob of ginger, sliced into chunks to a boil.
2. wash and peel 12 medium carrots.
3. cut them into (coins) rounds or on the bias (keeping them all the same size).
4. put carrots into water and boil until cooked al dente.
5. drain water and retain ginger with carrots. put in containers and hold in the fridge)
To serve
1. heat a bit of water in a saute pan.
2. add carrots (no ginger this time) till heated
4. when water is almost gone, add 2 TBS butter and coat carrots.
5. salt & pepper (i prefer white pepper on my carrots) to taste and serve.

carrot cardamom soup
1. heat a stock pot and add a generous knob of butter
2. add 1 large onion, diced & 2 large stalks of celery diced, sweat veggies
3. add 6-8 carrots washed and roughly chopped, sweat
4. in another pan, toast 6 cardamom pods, split pods and add seeds to veggies
5. add 1 quart of chicken stock and 1 cup of water. bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
6. puree till smooth and serve with a generous dollop of sour cream with fresh chives.

carrot oatmeal cookies

1 cup sprouted flour

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup chopped crispy walnuts
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup real maple syrup, room temperature
1/2 cup unrefined (fragrant) coconut oil, warmed until just melted
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Preheat oven to 375F degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and oats. Add the nuts and carrots. In a separate smaller bowl use a whisk to combine the maple syrup, coconut oil, and ginger. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
Drop onto prepared baking sheets, one level tablespoonful at a time, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake 10 - 12 minutes or until the cookies are golden on top and bottom.

carrot salad with tahini dressing
1. grate a bunch of carrots
2. add a cup of raisins
3. add 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4. add 1/4 up toasted pine nuts
5. toss with extra virgin olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar.
6. salt and pepper to taste.
7. refrigerate (this can last days)

tahini dressing
1. mix 1 TBS raw tahini with water until a paste forms
2. thin it out with fresh lemon juice until you achieve the desired texture
3. salt & pepper to taste
4.  drizzle on top of the carrot salad (which can be mixed with any greens or sliced apple to fill it out it can also be stuffed inside a pita, rolled into a wrap or used as a stuffing for pork chops!)


  1. yum. can't wait to try those carrot oatmeal cookies!

  2. awesome blog emily. I love it! Arabella (Melbourne)

  3. These are great recipes! I always get excited to find carrots of various colors when I hit the farmers markets at the height of the season. still a few months away I'm afraid.

  4. Like it! Yes sir, I like it alot!!


  5. yum. i had some huge ones chunked in my crock-pot corned beef tonight, and they were yummy with bits of beef fat clinging to them :). the carrot salad recipe looks great, i always forget about making them into their own salad, they're usually tossed raw into a green salad. great post!

  6. We love carrots too! Recently I found some beautiful purple, yellow and orange bunches at my natural grocery store and simply roasted whole with coconut oil and sea salt, they were out of this world.

  7. I'd recently come across an article -- if I have a moment and there is interest, i'll look it up -- about carrots being high in oxalic acid (binds iron and some other minerals). being currently slightly low on iron, i started using less of them.

    Also, I recently heard Dan Barber speak about carrots (and local foods) and the importance of those being grown in a correct climate (the low temperature makes for a sweeter, more nutritious carrot). Routinely, I bought a bunch of organic carrots at a grocery store. they didn't taste like anything. made me so upset -- the next day I got them at the farmers market (not organic) and I finally had a carrot that tasted like one.

  8. alisa, i would like to read that article, thanks. (emilyduff@mac.com) if you have a problem with oxalates i recommend doing some serious gut healing (i find it is very much like most food sensitivities where malabsorption is the result). as for store bought carrots - no thanks. i will use them in an emergency for stock or mire poix but honestly, everything tastes better from a local farmer and it's ultimately flavor that i crave. thanks for reading!

  9. Oh, she moved the article -- used to be here:

    I might still have it on my computer.

    I don't know if I really have trouble with oxalates, it's just that I'm pregnant with my second and the midwife mentioned that a) it's common to get (more) anemic with repeated pregnancies and b) she could tell by my lips that I was somewhat there. She alerted me to that article and I've been trying optimize my food/health stuff.