Is there really a link between those orange soccer jerseys the Netherlands sported during the recent World Cup competition and carrots?  Well, not directly, but the Dutch and orange carrots are certainly intertwined.

The carrot, Daucus carota, was originally a fairly bitter, purple taproot plant.  Cultivated widely in central Asia for medicinal purposes – Afghanistan is the first known area that wild carrots were grown for food – the carrot spread through Africa into Spain and then into Europe.  As the years went on, farmers began to breed sweeter, straighter, and fatter carrots that were purple, with a few not-so-loved white, red and yellow mutants thrown in.

In the 1500’s the then struggling for independence Dutch Netherlands, a farmer came up with a brilliant idea.  Why not crossbreed those pesky red, yellow and white carrots?  Perhaps a few of the wild ones too?  The result was a brilliant orange colored carrot the likes of which had never been seen before.  Was this farmer making a political statement in support of the newly founded House of Orange?  Or did he just “build a better mousetrap” and provide a superior product?  No one will ever really know, but I think the former makes for a better story.

Good For You
Carrots are brimming with beta-carotene – that lovely compound that makes them orange.  The deeper orange your carrot, the more beta –carotene it contains.  Human bodies turn beta-carotene into Vitamin A which is important for normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Vitamin A also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly.  One raw carrot has over 200% of your RDA of Vitamin A.  It’s also a good source of fiber and many herbalists swear by the carrots antiseptic use on cuts.

Cooking Tips
Most of the time carrots are peeled before they are eaten raw or processed.  But do they need to be?  Sub Edge Farms carrots are grown organically – no pesticides are added.  So with a little extra scrubbing to remove any lingering dirt, you can save yourself the time and hassle of peeling your carrots.  If, aesthetically, peeling makes more sense for you; don’t worry.  Unlike other vegetables, you’re not losing much in the way of vitamins or minerals when you remove the outer layer.

BIG TIP for all you vegetable peelers, de-stemmers, trimmers and corers out there.  Don’t throw the by-product into the trash (or even your compost bin)!  Remove all pits, seeds, cores, etc., run the pieces under the tap to remove any dirt, and save all of the non-spoiled pieces and parts in a large Ziploc bag in the freezer.  When your bag is full, dump all of the contents into a slow cooker and cover with about 1” of water.  Turn that on before you go to bed*.  The next morning, strain the resulting broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.  Voila.  The best homemade vegetable broth you will ever taste!  Add salt if you’d like and freeze in small containers.  Come January, when the snow is flying, you’ll have a little taste of summer to toss into a nice hot pot of homemade soup!

*Don’t have a slow cooker?  Put veggies in a pot and cover with 1” water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for one hour or so.  Add more water as needed.

Carrot Slaw:  shredded and tossed with raisins and a creamy dressing.  Just like Grandma used to make.

Herb Roasted Carrots:  dill, thyme, sage – take your pick!  Toss carrots with herbs and olive oil and roast for about 30 minutes. Got a parsnip?  Throw that carrot cousin in there too. 

Candied Carrots:  toss steamed carrots with a little butter and honey (yep!  We have that too) for a sweet goodness

Carrot Juice:  Got a juicer?  Throw the carrots in.  Virgin carrot juice or add your favorite other veggies too.

Carrot Cake or Muffins:  Remember the baked zucchini bread?  This time use carrots.  Or mix and match.  Recipe is further down this email.

Moroccan-style Carrot Salad:  shredded carrots with slivered onion, harissa and lime juice will make the spice lover in your house a very happy person.

Meatloaf with Carrots:  sure we all know you need breadcrumbs, but think about finely chopping up some carrots to mix in with your Mom’s best meatloaf recipe.  Adds color and goodness to even the most time tested comfort food.

Mac and Cheesy:  small people in your house a bit wary of the veggie basket?  Steam and puree some carrots and cauliflower.  Follow the recipe below.  No one needs to be the wiser.  Just sayin’! 

Carrot and Beet Casserole:  remember back in elementary school when you studied the color wheel?  The orange carrot is just a shade off yellow, but the contrasting colors really look fabulous and we all know that you eat with your eyes first!