Ginger-Roasted Carrots with Mellow Miso Dressing

I used to be the girl with candy in her bag. Always. Skittles, Snickers, Nibs, Nerds, Twix, Jube Jubes, you name it. In fact, if sugar wasn’t within arms reach at all times, I would get a bit panicky. Candy kept me awake during art history lectures and it was my reward for finishing my math homework. It kept me company during the bus ride home from school. And you know that sickatating fluoride rinse you get at the dentist? Well I knew I’d hit rock bottom after a bi-annual check-up, literally counting down the thirty minutes you’re supposed to wait to eat again, to open up my trap for a Pixie Stick.

Thankfully, one day I realized that the sugar just wasn’t doing me any favors. And you know what helped me kick the addiction? Carrots. Perhaps my habit was merely an oral fixation, but whatever the problem, carrots were the solution. I kept a small bag of them in my purse, washed and cut into sticks, so whenever that urge to munch came on, I was prepared. Now I regard carrots as more than just a vegetable, but a true savior.

It will come as no surprise then, that I have prepared carrots in just about every way imaginable. Steamed, broiled, baked, juiced, pureed, and of course cut up into all shapes and sizes for raw nibbling. After years of dedication to this humble root vegetable, I think my favorite way to eat ‘em, is roasted. And this way of roasting, with fresh ginger and orange, is a one-way ticket to total carrot ecstasy.

Beta-carotene Ka-pow!
Forget diamonds, carrots are a girls’ best friend (well, make that everyone). First and foremost carrots are one of the best dietary sources of beta-carotene. An antioxidant nutrient, beta-carotene boosts the immune system, protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals, helps you reproductive system function properly, and provides a source of vitamin A.
Carrots stimulate the production of immune cells that protect the body from all types of infection; guard against cardiovascular disease; reduce inflammation, and slow the aging process. They are especially important in building healthy skin, tissue and even teeth! And the rumors are true: carrots improve eyesight. Research has also established that eating a beta-carotene-rich food at least once a day significantly reduces the risk of macular degeneration.  [1]

Factors the effect Beta-Carotene
Cooking has an effect on beta-carotene, but it’s not always negative! Lightly steaming carrots improves your body’s ability to absorb carotenoids, but prolonged cooking can lower its bioavailability. It’s important to just cook them until tender-crisp – not limp. Eew.
It’s also valuable to note that eating beat-carotene-rich foods with a little fat will help your body absorb this antioxidant. Why? Carotenoids are fat-soluble substances, so those who are watching their weight on a low-fat diet, may have impaired carotenoid status. [2] Another reason to pour on the olive oil? Yes, please! 

I was very inspired by the carrots in the market the other day – any veggie with its tops still attached spells F-R-E-S-H! So I bought some, despite their teeny-tiny size and decided the best way to cook them, was of course, my favorite way. Now, I’m a huge lover of garlic-roasting, but in the mood for change, I used fresh ginger and orange – a fabulous combo with carrots. The other cool thing about this technique and recipe is that it combines both roasting and steaming techniques. This cuts the cooking time down, meaning that we won’t destroy all of that precious beta-carotene.

And if those carrots weren’t delicious enough, I whisked up a crazy-yummy Mellow Miso Dressing to drizzle on top. Served over black rice with a side of greens – I do believe the husband’s comment was: “I feel like I’m at a fancy restaurant”.

The carrots I bought were really small and I think the bunch contained about 40 all together. If you can’t find fresh young carrots, try purchasing 10 large ones and cut them into quarters, lengthwise. Buy ones with lively, bushy tops if you can find them, as this means that the carrots are newly pulled-from-the-earth, and full of nutrients.

Ginger-Roasted Carrots with Mellow Miso Dressing

Ginger Orange Marinade

Serves 3-4
zest of 2 oranges
juice of 1 orange
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. coconut oil or ghee, melted
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
pinch sea salt
Directions:
1. In a large bowl, whisk all marinade ingredients together.

Mellow Miso Dressing
Makes ½ cup dressing
Ingredients:
¼ cup light miso (organic + non-GMO if possible)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. brown rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. water
½ tsp. tamari (or high-quality soy sauce)
Directions:
1. Whisk all ingredients together. Store leftovers in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a week.

Ginger-Roasted CarrotsDirections:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Prep carrots by removing the tops (if they have them), and giving them a good scrub to remove any dirt. Do not peel (that’s where the good stuff is!). Cut into quarters lengthwise if the carrots are large.
3. Place carrots in the bowl with the marinade and toss to coat.
4. Pour carrots and marinade out onto a baking sheet, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and place into preheated oven. Roast for 15 minutes or so, just until the raw edge is taken off – they will steam quickly in the orange juice. Keep a close eye on them – do not overcook.
5. While the carrots are roasting, make the Mellow Miso Dressing.
5. Remove carrots from oven, dish them up, and drizzle with dressing.

I’ll admit it: these carrots are so good, they taste like candy. Maybe not Pop-Rocks or Starbursts, but my taste buds are slightly more discerning now, and my body a lot more in tune with what it really needs.
If your kid (or the kid in you) still likes to indulge in the odd gummy bear, try this recipe out because I have a feeling you’ll be hooked too.

[1] Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Dietary Wellness. New York, NY: Penguin, 2003.
[2] whfoods.com

Copyright 2012 My New Roots at mynewroots.blogspot.com

47 comments

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  7. Double Gloucester

    Thank you for this recipe–it is truly delicious.

    Re: carrots with tops, I’d just add that the greens in fact draw nutrients and moisture from the carrot root. Nothing wrong with that–it’s just the carrot’s job! However, this does mean that intact tops are not alone a indicator of freshness (although markets that sell fresh local produce very often include the tops).

    Relatedly, if you plan to store your carrots, it’s important to remove the greens before putting them in the fridge to end the nutrient/moisture sapping process and prevent premature wilting.

  8. Wind

    Thank you for the carrot suggestion. I NEED a savior – in the last year candy has infiltrated my life and it needs to leave!

  9. Sami

    Hi Sarah,

    I love your blog and have been reading for a few months now. I keep hoping for a more in depth post about sugar. Or maybe I’ve just missed an old one. I recently read an article in the New York Times titled “Is Sugar Toxic” and as much as I want to quit sugar, I’m an addict too. Mostly I’m wondering what, if any, is the difference in terms of the metabolic response between sugar/HFCS and some of the alternative sweeteners that are sold as ‘healthier’. Do they break down in the body the same way that the article says sugar breaks down (into 50/50 ratios of glucose and fructose)? In the end, is there any ‘healthy’ sweetener? Thank you for doing what you do!
    Sam

  10. Iren

    I made this carrots for tonight and what else do expect: your recipe turned out to be delicious!
    Everytime my husband says: “Yummmy…! Delicious…! where did you get this idea? – I answer: “Guess…” And then he says: “Ah, Sarah again!”

    THANKS!!

  11. Emily

    just stumbled upon your blog; lovely photos…i will be back. 🙂

    i’m a dietitian and work with a lot of kiddos with food allergies, so this looks like a great recipe.

  12. Sarah B

    Hi Mel – I was a lot heavier in my teens, and yes, making the switch to a healthier diet certainly took off some extra pounds. Although I cut out the processed food for health reasons, the side effect was coming into a balanced state with my weight. 🙂

    Best, Sarah B

  13. Mel

    Hey Sarah, love your beautiful simple food and you inspire me constantly, which I think is the aim of your wonderful blog. So well done. I was wondering about your sugar/lollie addiction and when you weaned off it did you lose weight or was there just a general health improvement. I have lost a lot of weight giving up sugar because my appetite has also decreased. Not complaining mind you!!

  14. Anonymous

    hello! thanks for the lovely recipe! i do have a question about the rice. i made this dish yesterday (and black rice for the first time) and i started by soaking the rice for 24 hours. about 12 hours in the rice had opened up and was super soft, didn’t even require cooking. do you know anything about this ricetastic phenomenon?

  15. Joy

    The presentation is indeed very fancy and gorgeous. Go carrots. Though I am wary of eating TOO much b/c they can make you certain slightly orange?

  16. Leonie

    I really like the recipe and the presentation as well, amazing!
    I’d especially like to give the miso dressing a try, just one question:
    do you have any tips on how to store miso? the confections it is sold in seem huge to me as i won’t be using it that much. can you maybe freeze it in single portions?

    thank you!

  17. Kelsey (Happyolks)

    Perfection. Last night I was craving something sweet and roasted up a bag of carrots myself… there really is nothing better than the sweet, salty, crispy-ness of roasted root veggies. I will definitely try this miso dressing next time! Another lovely recipe, Sarah.

  18. Olga

    It’s a great recipe, Sara! I do share your delight about carrots and really love them so small when the season comes. The only bad news is my husband isn’t friendly with carrots. He can eat them but no matter how they are cooked he is disappointed to sea a carrot dish on the table:(
    My favorite recipe is to bake them with cumin. Yammi!

  19. bee bon

    I can’t wait to pull some fresh carrots from my garden and get cooking!
    thank you, I like your photography too. You might like to check out some of my recipes on my blog too.
    bee

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