Carrots are truly a parent’s best friend! Kids typically love munching on carrots, making them an easy way to get your kids to eat their veggies. They’re sweet, crunchy, and easily packed in a lunchbox. And better yet, they’re nutrient-dense. 1 cup of chopped carrots is an excellent source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, which is critical to eye and skin health, vitamin K and dietary fiber. And, it’s also a good source of vitamin C to keep the immune system strong and the heart healthy mineral potassium.
Carrots are root vegetables, growing underground. Their leaves sprout above ground and help you pull them from the earth. Many farms in the northeast start harvesting carrots in the late spring, but they grow well into winter, since they are protected from harsh weather by being underground. At HealthBarn USA, we plant carrot seeds in the early spring in raised beds (so they have enough room to grow deep) for a spring harvest, and then seeds again in late August for a fall harvest. Most of us think of carrots as being orange, but they can actually be one of a rainbow of colors, including shades of yellow, purple, and red. They look truly beautiful mixed together. The leaves are also edible, but are less popular than the sweet, crisp root among people. We just discovered that caterpillars love eating carrot tops and now have an amazing colony of soon to be butterflies in the carrot raised bed.
Kids really do love carrots in their simplest form, but there’s so much more to carrots than carrot sticks! For some variety, shred them over salads, or whip up a carrot slaw with a sweet vinaigrette, raisins, and walnuts. (A food processor’s grating attachment helps a lot if you’re shredding!) Carrots are a great roasting vegetable as well, as they get even sweeter in the oven. This can also help make carrots more palatable to younger kids, who may find raw carrots too hard to chew. One of our favorite dishes here at the Barn is our Carrot Halwa Dip. It’s our unique take on an Indian classic, and it always gets thumbs up.
Carrot Halwa Dip
Kids are crazy about eating carrots, but usually they eat them with dip and the carrot is the dipper. In this traditional Indian dish (served warm), however, the carrot itself is the dip! Dip celery sticks and sliced bell peppers into this HealthBarn USA favorite, which is loaded with vitamin A and is a good source of calcium.
Kids can shred carrots and peel skin off almonds; they can also stir mixture with adult supervision.
4 cups low-fat (1%) milk
4 cups shredded carrots (10–12 medium carrots)
1/3 cup raisins
¼ cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons blanched almonds, chopped*
Sliced celery sticks and/or bell peppers
* To blanch almonds, heat a small pot of water to boiling over high heat. Add almonds and cook 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water. Peel thin brown skin off almonds, but be careful: they’re slippery! FYI—blanched almonds are easier for our bodies to digest, which means that we absorb more of the nutrients and protein from these super tree nuts.
1. In a large, deep skillet, heat milk over medium-high heat to boiling, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour to reduce mixture to about 2½ cups, stirring frequently.
2. Add raisins to carrot mixture while there is still some liquid left and continue to cook until raisins plump, about 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and cardamom and cook until mixture is very thick and all milk is absorbed, about 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.
3. Spoon the warm dip into a serving bowl and sprinkle with almonds. Serve with celery sticks and/or bell peppers for dipping.
Makes 16 servings (2 tablespoons per serving)
Nutrition Facts per serving: 70 calories; 1.5g fat (0g sat fat, 1g mono, 0.5g poly, 0g trans fat); 5mg cholesterol; 12g carbohydrate (1g fiber, 10g sugar); 3g protein; 55mg sodium; 90% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 4% DV vitamin C; 10% DV calcium; 2% DV iron