How to make healthy choices every day

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


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