In our written series of Yoga Yummies we will venture, with a light-hearted manner, to highlight the magic of chosen power foods, their consumption and origins – and, importantly, how they can invigorate us, bring energy and joy into our daily living while helping us to enliven our yoga routines.
Crunchy carrots – the origins
Our orange rocket, the carrot, lat. carōta, is a root vegetable that belongs to the parsley family, related to dill and fennel. It was not always the orange – in fact, the carrot as we know and love it, was systematically developed by the carrot-breeding Dutch during the 17th century for the sweeter and juicier orange version. It is estimated to have first entered Europe on the 8th century, believed to have traveled into the Mediterranean shores on the boats of the Spanish conquistadors.
Prior to this, its seeds and leaves were used as a seasoning herb and a natural medicine by for example the ancient Egyptians, the root itself being thin, forked, bitter in taste and purple in color – not considered very appetizing and lacking in terms of value for actual cuisine. Agricultural carrot cultivation originates from China, and in addition to the domesticated carrot, wild carrot can be found for example in Afghanistan, very likely being a direct progenitor of the cultivated carrot we today munch.
Crunchy carrots – the vitamin essence
The carrot is rich in many minerals and has plenty of fibers, and its most vivid vitamin includes the beta-carotene, also boasting high levels of potassium and biotin. According to a longitudinal study observing the effects of health effects in color-categorized food, Colors of fruit and vegetables and 10-year incidence of stroke, as published in the British Journal of Nutrition in September 2011,the results show orange-colored foods as preventative inhibitors against cancer cells, reducing the risk of coronary heart decease as a part of a wholesome, healthy diet.
Carrot is also beneficial for the immune system and eyesight, the latter owing to its high concentration of vitamin A and lutein. According to a myth, it can even encourage the ability for cat-like night vision – an optimistic assumption perhaps, yet carrot does indeed help the visual virtue.
Carrot is good for the skin and encourages digestive function, which translates into an accelerated consumptive circulation, aiding digestion and thus promoting a flat, fresh belly and in overall a glowy, boyant being. The glow can, upon the massive consumption of carrots, turn into carotenosis, where the skin will develop an orangy tan – this is harmless and temporary, though.
Crunchy carrots – grow your own, choose & store
You can grow carrots in the garden planting them in the spring, in colder climates whilst the last frost is drawing near. In fact, you can choose your favorite carrot color from varieties ranging between orange, white, yellow or purple. The types have differing characteristics and cultivation preferences.
For choosing your crispy carrot, look for firm and fresh-looking, deep and vivid in orange color – the deeper the shade of orange, the more beta-carotene. The tops, if still attached, should be fluffy, feathery and of bright green. Smaller carrots are quicker to cook and good to choose especially if you look for boiling and steaming them. Big chunky carrots, on the other hand, can be sweeter as the sweetness is centered on the core.
Store your carrots in dark and cool, and keep them separated from vegetables and fruits such as the potato and pear – not because the carrot is a bully, but because it is easily affected and more quickly aging by the ethylene they ooze.
Crunchy carrots – eat & enjoy!
Munch your carrot raw after peeling, or grade it and combine with orange slices to make that tangy, healthy salad with festive shades of orange. Steaming is a good method of cooking to preserve the veggie vitamins, you can add a light touch of melted butter and fresh basil on the surface to complete this ravishing side dish. Dip them in natural spiced yoghurt!
Also, why not try the divinely delicious creamy carrot soup, and, well, who in the world could ever resist a carrot cake?