Do Not Underrate the Carrot
THE carrot is a gift of the Creator that many persons underrate. In the United States carrots rank ninth among twenty-eight vegetables of commercial importance; and of the better known ones, only spinach is less popular. Concerning this humble root a popular American cookbook quips: “They may not make your hair curl, but they will help protect your health.”
The dictionary defines the carrot “as a plant of the parsley family having a long, tapering, orange-red or reddish-yellow root which is eaten as a vegetable.” But it is not used only as a vegetable. Carrots, ground and roasted, have long been used as a coffee substitute in Germany, and as a sweetener in cooking throughout Europe.
Wise housewives will not underrate the carrot if for no other reason than that it provides wholesome variety to their meals. Carrots are among those vegetables that taste good both raw and cooked.
As for serving them raw: Use carrot sticks in the place of or in addition to green salads for dinner or when having a party. They serve as well as celery sticks, and some like them even better. If you have a vegetable juicer you no doubt are already acquainted with the pleasure and benefit derived from drinking carrot juice. (If you do not have a juicer, the juice can be bought in cans.) Drink it straight, mix it with other juices, such as grape juice, or use it to give palatability to celery juice.
Carrots, finely shredded, add color and flavor to any mixed salad. Grated raw carrots, together with raisins or dates and dressing, make an ideal salad. Then again, grated carrots, with nearly an equal amount of crushed pineapple, mixed with lemon or lime gelatine make a delicious fruit mold.
How do you cook carrots? No doubt one reason why they are underrated by many is that housewives often are not careful in preparing them, making the mistake of cooking them in too much water and then throwing away the water. Clean carrots with a stiff brush—do not scrape or cut off their skins—and then cook them with very little water and a little butter and salt. Carrots cooked in this way are both more tasty and more nutritious. For added flavor, serve them with chives or finely hashed onions. Or cream them—if you do not need to watch your calories.
Of course, carrots go fine in stews, whether Irish or lamb. And, like cheese or spinach soufflé, you can also make carrot soufflé, using a cup of sieved carrots in the place of cheese or spinach. Some like carrot cake, carrot pie, carrot soup, or carrot custard. Consult any good cookbook for other ways to serve carrots.
Not to be overlooked are carrot greens. Where it is possible to get these fresh and tender, use them for the vitamin K they contain, as well as for making a garnish to salads that is both pretty and edible.
It has been said that “food is your best medicine,” and in this respect carrots are no exception. The ancient Greeks and Romans used carrots as medicine but not as a vegetable. Their value in supplying vitamin A is well known. In fact, one average-size carrot will give you all of that vitamin you need for one day. And why does one need vitamin A? Primarily for strengthening the eyesight, but also to help to ward off infections in the throat and in the urinary tract. Carrots contain significant amounts of vitamins B2 and C as well as iron, phosphorus, chlorine and calcium. For weight watchers it is a comfort to know that a medium-size carrot has but twenty-one calories.
The carrot has been found valuable when it comes to combating diarrhea, particularly in infants. One of the best things to take for this ailment is carrot puree or sieved carrots. (As baby food it can be bought in cans.) Reports about the value of this form of treatment have appeared in a number of countries. One physician reported that he successfully treated 600 cases of infant enteritis with carrot puree. Carrots as a remedy for this condition have none of the side effects that so many drugs do.
The lowly carrot is one of the Creator’s gifts that housewives and their families should appreciate more than they usually do. Carrots prepared in various ways can serve to bring not only added variety and nutrition to your meals but also added pleasure—if wisely and artfully prepared.