By Alysia Santo
Al dente and delectable, the ever-constant carrot has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. High levels of beta-carotene, metabolized by the body into vitamin A, give carrots their characteristic orange hue and a significant part of their nutritional value.
Vitamin A is known for its positive effects on eyesight, as our mothers endlessly told us, but it is also great for skin, which may be helpful for those exposed to external radiation therapy.
Along with ample A, carrots are also a very good source of vitamin K and potassium. They also have some vitamin B12 and E. A few of these vitamins are antioxidants, helpful in reducing free radical cell damage and boosting the immune system during chemo.
Choose organic carrots, because you can leave the nutrient rich skin on instead of peeling it off. Fresh carrots should have a notable heft and stiffness and be very bright orange; if they bend or are dull looking, they are too old to buy. When storing carrots, cut off the leafy green tops, as they suck the moisture out of the root. Place them inside a plastic bag or damp paper towel and store in the coldest part of the fridge (but not the freezer). They can stay fresh for a couple of weeks this way.
Keep carrots on hand at all times. Incredible nutritional properties aside, they are a staple vegetable in most cuisines. If you have them, you can make almost anything, anytime. Wash and gently scrub carrots before eating. They can be eaten raw, boiled, sautéed, roasted, or juiced. Cut them into narrow sticks, sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper, and roast in the oven for a healthy alternative to French fries. Raw carrots are a perfect portable snack, and when shredded, carrots add color as well as vitamins to any salad or sandwich. Juiced, their health properties become more easily absorbed by the body. For a hearty soup try CFYL’s Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil Ragout. For a real unexpected treat, trying making Halva -- a delicious Indian carrot dessert.