Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Cook From Scratch with Sally and Carol – Carrots from Afghanistan

Welcome to Sally and Carol’s cook from scratch series, where we take everyday foods,  sharing their health benefits and some tasty recipes, so that you can incorporate them into your diet regularly.

Carol Taylor is a wonderful cook and uses fresh ingredients that she either grows herself of buys a the market in Thailand where she lives.

First a look at the carrot’s origins and its health benefits.

The humble carrot is a vegetable most of us take for granted. Carrots have an ancient history originating in Afghanistan.  The Greeks and the Romans ate carrots and in fact, the Greeks called the carrot ‘Philtron’ and used it as an aphrodisiac.  Don’t all rush to the supermarket!

In Asia, the carrot was an established root crop and was then introduced to Europe in the 13th century.  It was the Middle Ages before the carrot became better known and doctors of the time prescribed carrots for numerous ills including snakebite!  In those days, the carrot was available in far more radiant colours including red, purple, black, yellow and white.  They were cultivated together and over time, it resulted in the orange vegetable we know today.

The Elizabethans on receiving the carrots from mainland Europe did some rather strange things with them.  Some ate the roots but others used the feathery foliage for decoration in hats (Ascot) and on their clothes.  I am sure like every fashion statement this may come and revisit us at some point.  The colonists took the carrot to America but they were not cultivated there until the last couple of centuries.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CARROTS

Carrots eaten as a fresh, raw and unprocessed food is full of nutrients including Vitamin A (retinol), beta-carotene (turned into Vitamin A in the body), other carotenoids, B Vitamins, Vitamin C and minerals calcium and potassium.  Of all of the nutrients, Beta-Carotene and latterly Alpha Carotene are seen as the most important properties of the carrot.  As far as the eyes are concerned it is the Vitamin A and the Beta-carotene which are the most important nutrients. Vitamin A, helps your eyes adjust to light changes when you come in from outside and helps keep your eyes, skin and mucous membranes moist.

Vitamin A also prevents night blindness. If the vitamin A deficiency causing night blindness is not corrected, it can then lead to a condition called xerophthalmia, causing extremely dry eyes, possibly corneal ulcers and swollen eyelids. If left untreated, xerophthalmia can lead to blindness. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is one of the leading causes of blindness in developing countries. Vitamin A may possibly prevent cataracts from forming and may help prevent macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in the world.

Beta-carotene is one of about 500 compounds called carotenoids, which are present in most fruit and vegetables. The body changes beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which promotes a healthy immune system and healthy cell growth.  The body can only change so much beta-carotene into Vitamin A and any excess boosts the immune system and is a powerful antioxidant in its own right.  Antioxidants prevent free radical damage to cells, tissues and most importantly to the fat in our bloodstream that can lead to blocked arteries and heart disease.

Alpha carotene has often been overlooked in carrots but some interesting studies in Japan indicate that Alpha carotene might be even more powerful than Beta-carotene in the fight against cancer. As far as our general health is concerned, carrots play an important role in neutralising acid in the body.

 

All acids have similar properties to each other because they all release hydrogen into solutions. Acidity is measure using the pH (potential of hydrogen) scales.   The scale runs from 0 to 14.  All acids have a pH measurement between 0 to below 7 on the scale.

Acids are present in all living organisms including the human body.  Acids in plants react differently than acids in protein rich foods such as animal products. All foods are burned in the body leaving an ash as a result, if the food contains a predominance of sulphur, phosphorus, chlorine then an acid ash is produced.

The body has developed different strategies to ensure that the balance between acid and alkali is optimum for each of its different organs and systemic functions.

 

 

A minor deviation from the optimum balance can have a devastating effect on the operating systems of the body and can lead to coma and death so the body has a number of buffer systems to maintain that balance. When the blood is too alkaline the heart contracts and ceases to beat and when too acidic it relaxes and ceases to beat.

Eating carrots and other vegetables and fruits that burn to an alkaline ash in the body help balance both the acidic ash foods we consume and some external stress triggers.

 

I am now handing over to Carol who is going to show you some terrific ways to prepare this humble but nutritionally packed vegetable.

All vegetables are versatile but I think the humble carrot which is cheap to buy, easy to grow and with so many health benefits and culinary uses that it deserves just a bit more than being called just a carrot.

Today I am going to show you a few recipes which I make using carrots so come with me and if you have any wonderful carrot recipes then please share with us in the comments we are always on the lookout for wonderful local recipes using carrots.

Sally and I hope that you are enjoying reading all her good sound advice about the healthy benefits of the carrot and having recipes in the post so that you can then incorporate carrots into your diet. We are trying to show that good healthy food needn’t be boring or bland but can be enjoyable to cook and eat.

Because food should be fun and enjoyable.

What better way to get one of your 5 a day than to add a piece of carrot to your smoothie. I am getting a tad more adventurous and using all sorts of fruit and veggies in my smoothies.

Today I not only used a chunk of carrot but a slice of tomato and a slice of beetroot(not)pickled…lol…as well as the fruit and I think it is one of the best I have made.

I used a large chunk of watermelon, pineapple, yellow melon and dragon fruit. A slice of tomato, a slice of beetroot, a chunk of carrot and some crushed ice.
Then into the blender, blitz until smooth and viola a lovely healthy smoothie.

But play with and use whatever fruit you have which is in season…I might add a squeeze of lime or a little coconut milk it really depends how I feel and what I have..Even frozen fruits are great for smoothies.

I always find the smoothies are sweet enough for me from the natural fruit and vegetable sugars but some don’t and add a little sugar syrup with the fruit and vegetables.

And that is my tropical sunshine in a glass…. Isn’t it a beautiful colour?

Lovely new spring carrots just cooked in olive oil, glazed with honey and seasoned, delicious in their simplicity.

Photo by Thomas Gamstaetter on Unsplash

Ingredients

You need 1 kilo of baby carrots or new carrots
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp honey…I use fresh raw honey
Salt and pepper to season.

Heat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Tip the washed carrots into a roasting pan and toss with the oil and season with salt and pepper. If you have some fresh or frozen herbs then in they can go. Roast for 25/30 minutes then drizzle the vinegar and honey over the carrots, toss well and return to the oven for about 20 minutes.

Serve as a side dish.

  • Grated carrots can be added to your coleslaw, or add a few sultanas to some grated carrots and drizzled with a oil dressing they make a nice accompaniment to a salad.
  • Washed pieces of carrot can be given to children to snack on…nice and healthy.
  • Carrot batons are lovely with batons of peppers and a nice home- made hummus or dip.
  • Carrots steamed gently and then pureed with a little juice from the steaming water and a tiny bit of butter mixed in and a little pepper and no salt as there is salt in the butter it makes a lovely puree for a baby..my son lived on buttered carrots as a baby and nothing else he loved them. He is now a fit healthy adult who loves and eats lots of vegetables. You can also steam a little cauliflower and broccoli to add to the carrots.
  • Pickling Jalapenos then add a few carrots they are lovely pickled with the jalapenos. Just slice a carrot thinly and add to the pickling vinegar when you are heating it, cook for 5 minutes then add your sliced jalapenos and put into sterilised jars. So easy to do and very nice.

On a cold winters day how about a nice warming bowl of carrot soup? I also add carrots to my pumpkin soup…it is such a versatile little vegetable.

Carrot Soup.

Ingredients: Serves 2

2 carrots washed and sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
Half onion chopped
1/2 cloves garlic chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger finely chopped or grated
The zest and juice of half an orange 500ml of fresh vegetable stock or chicken stock
Salt and black pepper to season.
Crème fresh and coriander, to garnish. I use Coconut milk and a sprinkle of chilli flakes…but that’s me I love my chilli.

To make…

Gently cook the onion in a saucepan with the olive oil until it has softened but not coloured, add the garlic, ginger and orange zest and cook for a minute or 2. Then add the carrots and pour in the stock.

Simmer until the carrots are very tender and using a hand blender blend until smooth.
Serve and garnish as above with crème fresh and coriander or coconut milk and some chilli flakes as I do

Well, we can’t have a post about carrots and not have a recipe for carrot cake…Can we???

Ingredients:

2 and ½ cups (310 gm) of all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 and ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp each of ground cloves, nutmeg and ground ginger (I have fresh ginger )in my garden so always finely chop or grate and add to the mix instead of ground ginger.
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup of coconut oil
1 and 1/14 cups (250 gm) of light or dark brown sugar (I use raw coconut sugar)
4 large eggs
3 large carrots grated
1 cup (8oz) of crushed pineapple
1 cup (125 gm) chopped walnuts

To make:

Pre heat the oven to 350F (175C) and grease a 9 x 13 oven proof dish.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices all together in a large bowl. Set to one side.

Stir the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract together and then pour the wet ingredients onto the dry and stir or whisk until combined.

Fold in the carrots, pineapple and the walnuts. Spread the batter into the prepared dish and bake for 45-55 minutes and as ovens vary keep an eye out so it doesn’t overcook. If you find the edges are browning too quickly then lightly cover with foil.

When it is cooked a skewer or toothpick inserted into the cake centre will come out clean.

Allow to cool completely before adding topping.

For the topping you will need:

8 ounces (224 gm) block of cream cheese softened.
½ cup (115 gm) butter
3 cups (360 gm) of icing sugar plus extra if required.
1 tsp of pure vanilla extract.
Salt if required to taste.

To make topping using a hand held or stand mixer beat together the softened cream cheese and the icing sugar on low speed. Add in vanilla essence and beat on high for 2 minutes if you like your topping a little firmer then add more icing sugar but if you put the cake into the fridge the icing with set a little more.

This is a lovely moist cake made even better by the addition of the pineapple.

Cut into squares once cake is iced and ready.

That is all for now I hope you are enjoying this collaboration with Sally and myself as much as we are writing it and testing recipes. I have lots of other recipes with carrots but it would have ended up being like War and Peace so maybe we can incorporate some of the others in another post. There are plenty more exciting posts to come and if you try a recipe please let us know how it turned out as we love to hear from you.

Until next week stay safe, have fun and laugh a lot as laughter is the best medicine known to man and it has no side effects.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Connect to Carol

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

My thanks to Carol for these wonderful recipes and I hope you will join us again Please feel free to share thanks Sally

If you have missed previous posts you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/

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33 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Cook From Scratch with Sally and Carol – Carrots from Afghanistan

  1. Sal, thanks for this valuable information. I had to wonder about the carrot tops used as decoration on clothing, what about the wilt? Lol. And Carol, although I enjoy roasted carrots, you had me at carrot cake! Hugs girls. 🙂 xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carrot soup and carrot cake 2 big winners for me. I knew carrots were not originally orange but I knew nothing else of their history… which is fascinating. Thanks for the interesting and informative post….Do you think the shape was anything to do with their aphrodisiac properties, or do I just have a gutter mind?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Cook From Scratch with Sally and Carol – Carrots from Afghanistan | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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