When we think of carrots, the color orange typically comes to mind. However, wild-grown carrots a thousand years ago were several different colors – purple, red, and yellow – not orange. The orange carrot became popular 400 years ago when plant cultivators in the Netherlands crossed a red carrot with a yellow carrot and produced a mutant carrot – the orange one we know today. The Dutch plant cultivators created the orange carrot to honor the Dutch Royal House of Orange. Look at that – history and nutrition meet!
Nutritionally speaking, rainbow carrots have something orange carrots don’t – a wider variety of phytonutrients that protect your eyes, heart, and lower cancer risk. Purple, red, and yellow carrots are making a resurgence, and you can find rainbow carrots in many local grocery stores (Clevelanders – check out your local Heinens or Trader Joes!).
Carrot Colors and Phytonutrient Benefits:
- Orange (beta-carotene): eye health (beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A)
- Purple (anthocyanin and beta-carotene): eye health, heart disease prevention
- Red (lycopene and beta-carotene): reduced risk of cancer (especially prostate cancer)
- Yellow (xanthophylls and lutein): eye health, cancer prevention
A lot of recipes tell you to peel carrots. Avoid doing this. The fiber and phytonutrients are concentrated in the skin. Peeled carrots, such as baby carrots, are a good food choice, but carrots with skin provide the most nutritional benefits!
Try my honey roasted carrots for a delicious and easy way to incorporate carrots into your meals!
- 4 medium-sized rainbow carrots
- 1.5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tbsp garam marsala
- 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Chop carrots into “chips” by thinly slicing the carrot diagonally to make oval-shaped pieces.
- Place carrots on cookie sheet (I like to line cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil for easy cleanup).
- Toss carrots with spices, honey, and olive oil until evenly coated. Arrange in a single layer on cookie sheet.
- Roast for approximately 20 minutes, or until carrots are slightly caramelized.