This week, we're covering carrots - nutrition, growing and of course our favorite carrot recipes. And, check out how California-based company Treasure8 is changing the future of snack foods.
Seasonal ingredient of the week: Carrots
Let's talk about one of our favorite root veggies: the elegant carrot. From orange to purple to yellow to white, carrots have the rainbow covered and offer as may culinary uses as colors.
Carrot Nutrition Facts: Plenty of Vitamins & Minerals
You may have heard that carrots are good for your eyesight. That's thanks to their high Vitamin A content, which comes in the form of beta carotene. Bonus: Vitamin A also gives your immune system a healthy boost.
Carrots also pack a punch of B vitamins, including biotin, which aids in fat burning, and B6, which is essential for energy metabolism. In addition to these large vitamins, carrots provide important minerals like lycopene and polyacetylenes, both of which are linked to a reduced risk of cancer.
The bottom line: your parents were right when they urged you to eat your carrots as a kid - and there are only more reasons to pile your plate with these beauties as an adult!
Carrots are fairly easy to cultivate at home, and they grow beautifully from seed, unlike other more finicky vegetables. They thrive especially well next to other root vegetables like onions and leeks.
The smell from these alliums actually helps repel common carrot pests. Grow all three and you'll have the ingredients for a delicious veggie stock right in your backyard!
Best Carrot Recipes
Carrots seamlessly cross the flavor divide between sweet and savory, not to mention breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Plus that color is never a bad idea to toss into a salad or veggie side dish. Roasting carrots especially brings out their sweet side. Here are a few more of our favorite vegan carrot recipes:
- To start your day with a beta carotene pick-me-up, indulge in healthy vegan Carrot Cake Overnight Oats
- Add some orange to your next party with a delicious Mediterranean appetizer of Roasted Eggplant Carrot Tahini Dip. Serve with gluten free crackers for dipping.
- Thin carrot slices add a festive and crunchy garnish to vegan Asian Lettuce Wraps
- One of the most popular dishes at our Thanksgiving table is Harissa Roasted Carrots with Toasted Hazelnuts and Pomegranate
- And don't worry, we couldn't forget dessert! We love all things carrot cake, see exhibit A: Vegan and Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes, and exhibit B: Vegan Carrot Cake with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
Currently happening in the food industry
Here’s a company to watch: Treasure8 is a San Francisco-based food startup and self-proclaimed "Resource Revolution". The company holds a patent for a specialized machine that dehydrates fresh produce in under an hour while preserving plants' nutrition.
Not only does this device, called the Sauna, churn out crunchy snacks as tasty as a bag of potato chips without stripping nutritional value, it also transforms food that would otherwise go to waste into craveable, convenient snacks.
CEO Timothy Childs has a goal of establishing Saunas at as many food distribution sites as possible around the world. The result, he hopes, will be that food scraps and leftovers that are typically tossed will be transformed into nutritionally-dense and delicious snacks on a mass scale.
This is the kind of innovation in consumer packaged goods with sustainability in mind that we love to hear about. We'll certainly be on the lookout for Treasure8 snacks!
Sustainability Tip of the Week
Carrot tops are food too!
We love buying carrots whole (skip baby carrots - they're more processed and are often packaged in single-use plastic). You'll get more bang for your buck by choosing a carrot bunch that not topless!
To use your carrots from root to stem, blend up a delicious Vegan Carrot Top Pesto. Pistachios, garlic, nutritional yeast and high-quality olive oil edge out any bitter notes from the greens. Plus, the pesto can be made ahead and frozen for up to a month. A quick pesto pasta or toast makes a delightful and easy weeknight dinner in a pinch.
We love creative uses for the overlooked, but still tasty, parts of vegetables - share yours!