ingredient spotlight: carrots
lean, mean, and full of beta carotene
We're all about carrots this month! One of the most popular vegetables, carrots rank as the #2 most popular vegetable, right behind potatoes. But here's the deal with that orange carrot we know and love... guess what? Carrots weren't orange until the 17th century! As carrots gained popularity and spread across Europe, the Dutch decided to selectively breed orange carrots in honor the royal family, The House of Orange! While the orange carrot is certainly the most recognizable of the varieties, it's becoming more and more common to see this vegetable in a variety of colors at the farmers market or grocery store. We've also started seeing more and more heirloom varieties of carrots, which come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from short and squat to long and pointy. While the flavor differences are subtle, we still love to cook up a batch of purple carrots for no other reason than their beautiful coloring.
Beyond the aesthetics of carrots, this mighty root vegetable is packed full of nutritional benefits. The most well-known nutrient found in carrots is beta-carotene. This is actually the orange pigment that gives carrots their color and once digested by the body, it is converted into Vitamin A. There are many potential benefits to consuming beta-carotene, including a reduced risk of both strokes and certain types of cancer. One other major benefit of beta-carotene is ocular health. Carrots and beta-carotene have been shown to greatly reduce the risk of macular degeneration and can help preserve eyesight as we age!
Speaking of carrots and eyesight, you've probably been told once or twice in your life that carrots can help improve nighttime eyesight. While the benefits of carrots for your eyes is impressive, unfortunately, night vision simply isn't achievable, no matter how many carrots you eat. This old wives tale originates during WWII when the Brits deployed advanced, top-secret radar technology. Suddenly, their fighter pilots saw drastic improvements during night-time missions, and the Royal Airforce had to explain this to the public, without divulging their radar advancements. The answer? They told the public that their pilots were eating more carrots, which greatly improved nighttime eyesight. This little white lie had a profound effect both across the pond and here in the states. Suddenly, every victory garden was abundant with carrots and by the end of the war, there was even a carrot surplus!
One final word of caution, watch out for Carotenemia! This is a strange condition where your skin will gradually turn orange if you consume too much beta-carotene. While generally harmless, avoid eating more than 3 carrots a day, unless you want a radiant orange glow to your skin!
Carrots on our menu
We clearly love carrots - they're all over our menu! You can find them in all of our "Root" juices... make sure to try the "Bunny Love," "What's Up Doc," and "Orange You Glad," which all use carrots as the main ingredient.