Alex Caspero, MA, RD, CLT
Everyday Chef, Fruits & Veggies—More Matters
I’m betting that most of you currently have a bag of carrots laying in your produce drawer. If you’re anything like me, it’s the produce that you reach for almost every time you’re at the grocery store. Great to dip with hummus, toss into a stir fry or soup, or run through the juicer.
Carrots are the unsung heroes of the produce department; I seem to need them in just about every savory recipe I cook, yet they are rarely the star of the dish. Well, not anymore. In the 5 recipes below, we are welcoming the return of spring by highlighting the versatile carrot.
If you’re lucky enough to find carrots with the leafy ends still attached- save them! They create a flavorful pesto that’s perfect with roasted carrots, spiralized carrot noodles or a giant bowl of risotto topped with, you guessed it- sautéed carrots.
5 Unique Ways to Prep Carrots
2 cups cubed cantaloupe
1 cup carrot juice
½ cup pineapple chunks (fresh or frozen)
½ frozen banana
Place all ingredients in a blender and purée until creamy and smooth.
Per serving (1) 245 calories, 0g fat, 1486mg potassium, 60g carbohydrates, 8.2g fiber, 45.3g sugar, 4.6g protein
Carrot Noodles with Tahini Sauce
This nutrient-dense pasta swaps in ½ vegetables for noodles! Thin strips of carrots and peppers look and act like noodles when coated in this creamy, spicy sauce.
5 oz. soba noodles, cooked and rinsed
3 large carrots
2 bell peppers (any color, I used 1 orange and 1 red)
¼ cup cilantro plus more for garnish
Creamy, Spicy Dressing:
½ cup cashews, soaked at least 30 min.
2 tbsp. water
⅓ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. sriracha sauce
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 shallot, chopped
Make the dressing: Place all ingredients for the dressing in a high powered blender or food processor and blend until creamy. Add a tbsp. of water at a time if needed to make it pourable.
You don’t want it too thick or watery, it should be the consistency of creamy dressing.
Cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse well and set aside.
Using a Julianne peeler or a knife, thinly slice the peppers and carrots into matchsticks. You want them to be of similar width as the noodles.
Place the cooked noodles, peppers and carrots into a large bowl and toss with ½ cup of the dressing (you can add more if you’d like!).
Mix in the cilantro and serve.
Per serving (4): 310 calories, 8.4g fat, 1.6g sat fat, 1575mg sodium, 559mg potassium, 51.2g carbohydrates, 3.3g fiber, 12g sugar, 10g protein
Whole-Wheat Carrot Cake Muffins
These lightly sweetened, vegan muffins are perfect for breakfast, snack or dessert!
Makes 1 dozen muffins
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup rolled oats
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground clover
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp ground flax seed
½ cup light coconut milk
⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp. canola oil
¼ cup water
⅓ cup + 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1½ cup freshly grated carrots
½ cup raisins
¼ cup roughly chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 375° F and prep a muffin tin with liners.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients except carrots, raisins, walnuts.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together. Add the carrots, walnuts and raisins. Gently stir until just combined.
Spoon the batter ⅔ of the way up into the muffin liners.
Bake at 375° F for 22 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
Per muffin: 188 calories, 7g fat, 2.5g sat fat, 29.1g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 11g sugar, 3g protein
Carrot Top Pesto
Don’t throw away those carrots tops! Use them in this flavorful pesto sauce. Toss with hot pasta, on sandwiches, roasted carrots, omelets and more.
Makes ~1 cup
1 bunch basil
1 bunch carrot tops
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp blanched almonds
2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, jarred in oil
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Place basil, carrot tops, garlic, almonds, sundried tomatoes, and parmesan cheese in the base of a food processor and pulse together until well combined. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until pesto forms. Season to taste, if needed, with salt and ground pepper. Serve as desired!
Per 2 tbsp: 68 calories, 6.7g fat, 1.2g sat. fat, 2mg cholesterol, 63mg potassium, 1.2g carbohydrates, 0.5g fiber, 1.5g protein
Carrot Ginger Juice
1 large apple, cored and quartered
5 medium carrots
½ inch piece ginger, peeled
Run all ingredients through a juicer. To make without a juicer, add all of the ingredients along with ½ cup water to a high-powered blender and puree until smooth. Enjoy as a smoothie or strain through a nut-milk bag.
Serves 1: 192 calories, 1g fat, 1190mg potassium 3.45g protein, 58g carbohydrates, 38g sugar
Photo Credit: Alex Caspero