When someone says the word “carrot” you probably think of a long, slender, orange root vegetable. But did you know that orange is not the carrot’s original color?
If you’ve been to your local grocery store, health food store, or farmer’s market lately, you may have seen purple, white, yellow and even red carrots. More and more small-scale farmers and local growers are experimenting with rainbow carrots.
Carrots were originally from Middle Asia and some historians believe they were known as far back as 5,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt. No one knows if they were actually being cultivated during this time, but by the 10th century in present day Afghanistan, yellow and purple carrots were being grown. In addition to those colors, there were also carrots in red, white and black.
Most interesting about the history of carrots is that they weren’t grown for consumption. The ancients used them for medicinal purposes, such as the Ancient Romans would use carrots as a medicinal herb and even as an aphrodisiac.
Then about 300 years ago, Dutch growers decided to combine red and yellow carrots to breed the modern day orange carrot as we know it. This was in honor of the Dutch national color and Royal Family House color.
Nutritional Benefits of Rainbow Carrots
We all know that carrots are low in calories and are a great source of beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A that is excellent for your vision and eye health (though not always very easily). However, there are other health benefits from eating rainbow carrots:
- Purple Carrots: Are rich in anthocyanin, an antioxidant, that helps to prevent heart disease by slowing blood clotting. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory and slows aging. These carrots are less sweet than orange carrots and may have a rich, spicy taste.
- Yellow Carrots: Have high amounts of lutein that promotes health eyes, fights macular degeneration, and certain forms of cancer. They tend to be crispy and juicy.
- Red Carrots: Are rich in lycopene that helps in cancer prevention and may also prevent heart disease. These taste slightly starchy and are less sweet than orange carrots.
- White Carrots: Have less carotene and nutrients than the other varieties, but it is high in fiber and has a strong, rich flavor and is crispy and juicy.
Remember, like many other vegetables, the nutritional value is right below the skin so don’t peel the skin off. Instead, scrub the carrots clean and choose organic when it’s available to you.
- 10 -12 large organic rainbow carrots, cut into large diced pieces
- For the marinade:
- 3-4 Tbsp avocado oil or duck fat (melted)
- Juice of 1 orange
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tsp orange zest
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Whisk ingredients together and toss over carrot pieces.
ina parchment lined baking sheet.
- Place in oven for 30-40 minutes or until carrots are just fork tender.
I love making up a big batch of these carrots and portioning them out into individual servings and freezing them for an easy side for lunches. Fall is a time of year I tend to crave more starchy veggies and I trust my body is trying to tell me something. These carrots go perfectly with pan seared duck breast (that’s my favorite way to enjoy them). They also go great with roast chicken.
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