I mentioned in my last post on potatoes that I don't worry much about the micronutrients that are in foods and if I'm getting enough of each individual vitamin/mineral. I truly don't believe that we can quantify the exact substances that are in food that make them good for us. There is clearly more good stuff in an orange than vitamin c! Seems every week there is a new study published about a great scientist who discovered what is in (you name the food…wine, coffee, apples….) that makes it good for us. I think the food industry drives much of that research as they then create supplements, fortify foods, etc to get us to buy them. Rather than just eat foods that naturally have fiber/omega 3s, or whatever the latest trend is, we are encouraged to buy some sort of processed food into which this good stuff has been added or exploited. Overly complicating food and what we eat just make it that much harder to know what is right and good.
An easy rule of thumb that sounds cheesy but works is to eat across the rainbow. If you eat a variety of foods of all the different colors, you'll get what you need. Here is a short article that describes eating across the rainbow.
Mother nature provides right for us. Different plants produce at different times of the year and if we eat what comes into season, we will naturally get the variety our bodies need. Eating hothouse grown, out of season veggies, or fruits shipped from around the world is not the answer. Don't eat apples from New Zealand in the Spring when all you need to do is wait until Fall and then they're available in our very own country!
I think the orange category is a tough one. Oranges are in season in the late winter/early sping. and cantaloupe in the summer. There are winter squashes in the Fall and winter and sometimes you can find an orange pepper. Sweet potatoes are always around and are a good choice. The most common, easy go-to orange food is the ubiquitous baby carrot. Seriously how many baby carrots can you eat? They seem like a good idea while you're in the produce section, but no one really wants to munch on baby carrots. So here is a recipe that uses big carrots, cooking them so they are tender and delicious.
This is a recipe that is adapted from one in Deborah Madison's book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
I love this cookbook. The newest edition is the one on the right, but I have the older version on the left. It is not the kind with lots of glossy pictures that reads like a coffee table book but it has lots of easy and really good recipes. In fact, it is a text book for my upcoming culinary program! (Disclaimer: if you click the image above you will get a link to amazon to purchase the book. If you chose to buy it through the link, I get about a penny per book and for me these days every penny counts!)
I ate this both as a warm side dish and as a cold leftover salad. The first time, I left out the walnuts and olives, but the dish is much better with them added. The sweet carrots, the smoky paprika, the crunch of walnuts, the tang of the olives, and saltiness of feta make a great dish. If you are a cilantro hater, you can leave it out or substitue parsley. I hope you enjoy it! It's a great way to eat a little more "orange!"
Cooked Carrot Salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Keywords: salad side vegetarian cilantro feta cheese carrots walnuts
Ingredients (4 - 6 servings)
- 1 pound carrots (try to get carrots about the same size, don't use baby carrots)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 2 tsp smoked paprika or hot hungarian paprika
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 12 cured black olives (like kalamata)
- 1/3 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
Leaving the carrots whole and unpeeled, cook them in boiling, salted water for about 10 minutes. You want them to be just tender but not too soft. You may need to take small ones out sooner, and cook larger ones a bit longer. Rinse them under cold water. When cool enough to handle, cut off the stem ends and use your fingers to rub off the skins. It will come off easily. Cut the carrots into rounds, or large carrots into half moons. Leave the carrot pieces fairly large.
In a mixing bowl, combine the garlic, salt, paprika, and vinegar. Whisk to mix and dissolve the salt. Whisk in the olive oil. Add the carrots and toss lightly to coat in the dressing. Add the cheese, cilantro, olives, and walnuts. Lightly mix everything together. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt as needed. Serve as a salad or side dish.
Note: I originally omitted the olives and walnuts (they thus aren't pictured) but added them when I ate the leftovers. This dish really needs the contrast in flavors and textures.
You may serve this as a warm side dish, as a salad, or leftover cold. It is delicious however you serve it.