Carrots are high in water content, low in calories, and have a low glycemic index, meaning that they will not cause your blood sugar to rise as quickly compared to higher-carbohydrate foods. With many superb nutritional benefits, carrots make the perfect side dish or snack, especially paired with some yummy hummus, peanut butter or guacamole.
Nutritional Benefits of Carrots
Carrots are a great source of beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. This essential nutrient is important for good vision, immune function and proper growth and development.
Biotin is a B-vitamin that helps your body to break down fats and protein and use them for energy.
Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, helps your blood to clot properly and supports bone health.
Carrots are an abundant source of pectin, which is a soluble fiber. Soluble fibers slow down the digestion of sugar and starch and inhibit the absorption of cholesterol. Both of these important processes help to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. This type of fiber also serves as a food source for the good bacteria in your digestive system, which can help to improve your health and decrease your risk of disease.
What to Look For
You can find carrots in bunches with their tops (greens) still on, loose (with no greens), or in bags without their greens. If purchased with their tops on, look for greens that are crisp and bright green. Look for firm, well-shaped carrots that are not gnarled or covered with rootlets and are reddish-orange in color. The darker the orange, the more beta carotene the carrot has (this is a good thing!). Avoid any carrots that are cracked, shriveled, soft or wilted. Another easy way to purchase carrots is as baby carrots. These carrots are perfect for snacking, and they are usually pre-washed for even more cooking & eating ease (just check the bag to be sure).
How to Store Your Carrots
If you purchase carrots with their tops, twist or cut off the stalks to about 1 inch above the root before storing. This will help to keep your carrots fresher longer without turning them limp and rubbery. Store them in the refrigerator for maximum freshness.
Apricot-Sage Chicken with Carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (4 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breast
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
½ cup chicken stock (preferably low/no salt)
¼ cup apricot preserves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cups sliced carrots
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage, divided (may also use dried)
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Sprinkle chicken with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
- Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes per side or until browned (chicken will not be cooked through). Remove chicken from pan (do not wipe out pan).
- Combine stock, apricot preserves and mustard in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.
- Add carrots, 1 tablespoon sage and garlic to pan; sauté for 4 minutes.
- Add apricot mixture and chicken to pan; reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 8 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
- Remove pan from heat.
- Place chicken and carrots on a platter, leaving apricot sauce in pan.
- Add remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper and butter to pan, swirling until butter melts.
- Spoon pan sauce over chicken; sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon sage.
Nutrition Facts: 313 calories, 14g fat (5g saturated fat, 8g unsaturated fat), 24g protein, 22g carbohydrates, 13g sugars (5g added sugars), 642mg sodium