In case you just want to know literally how many calories there are in a carrot, the short answer is there are around 30 calories in a typical carrot.
Carrots contain so few calories that, if you’re following the Squiffy Method of Weight Loss, you can really eat carrots without worrying much about how many calories are in them.
But wait! There’s more to carrot science than merely the number of calories in a carrot!
Did you know that cooking carrots effectively increases their vitamin content? To be precise, although the vitamin C content of a carrot is lowered by cooking, the fact that cooked carrots are far easier to digest than raw carrots mean that more vitamin A is available for your body to use in a cooked carrot than a raw one.
Also, carrots may make you irresistible to the opposite sex. Or something like that. Researchers from the University of Nottingham have apparently found that the colouring matter contained in fruit and vegetables gives people a more attractive skin tone when they consume fruit and veg such as carrots regularly over a two-month period (more details here).
The vitamin A in carrots is also reputed to be good for your eyesight and skin; your eyes cannot function without vitamin A.
Interestingly, you can still find wild carrots growing here and there on roadside verges, especially in sandy soil. The carrot is a member of the ‘umbellifer’ family of plants, which also includes celery, parsley, angelica, dill and some deadly plants such as hemlock — the juice of which Socrates was forced to drink as his death sentence. All of these plants carry distinctive “umbels” of small, often white, flowers. Imagine an umbrella that’s been blown flat by the wind, and replace the waterproof covering with lots of small white flowers and you’ve got the kind of thing I’m talking about.
In many parts of the world these plants tend to dominate the wild flora at certain times of year; you’ll most likely know these plants when you see them, although you may not have realised that what looks like a single plant is actually many different kinds of plant, flowering at slightly different times of the year.
The wild carrot is said to be virtually inedible, with a scrawny bad-tasting root. I don’t suggest trying it, since unless you’re prepared to gem up on ‘umbellifers’ in general, there’s a significant risk of poisoning yourself with the wrong root. But if you’re curious, the wild carrot’s flowers are white, but with a single red flower right in the centre of the umbel. Weird eh?
If you’re interested in wild foods, check out Richard Mabey’s excellent book on the subject:
But enough of this talk of useless wild carrots, I hear you say. The real question here is, since carrots are so good for the health, how can you eat more of them?
Squiffy’s Easy and Delicious Carrot Recipes
Carrots can be good simply boiled and served with potato and lean meat. But here are some simple, quick and delicious carrot recipes that you might like to try. Like most of my recipes, these delicious carrot dishes aren’t particularly authentic, traditional or suitable for serving in posh restaurants, but they are easy to make and nutritious.
Exact quantities are not too important, so feel free to experiment and adjust to your taste.
Cream of Carrot and Cashew Soup
- 1 onion
- olive oil
- cashew nuts
- either a small tin of coconut milk cream, or a small tub of single cream or one or two tablespoons of mascarpone cheese
- salt, pepper and garlic to taste
- a stock cube
Fry the onions and cashew nuts in a small amount of olive oil till the onion is beginning to turn brown. Chop the carrots and throw them in with the onion. Cover with water and add the stock cube, plus garlic, salt and pepper to taste. If you’re using powdered garlic (easiest!) just a tiny sprinkle is enough.
Bring to the boil and simmer until the carrots are soft. This will take anywhere from ten to twenty-five minutes, depending on what your carrots are like. As with many of my recipes, with some practice you’ll be able to leave this stage largely unnattended once you’ve made this recipe a few times, so making this soup won’t take up too much of your time.
Once the carrots are soft, add some cold water. If you’ve just covered the carrots while boiling them, probably you’ll need about as much water again. Better to add too little than too much, since you can always add more water later to get the soup how you like it.
Also add the coconut cream, or single cream, or mascarpone, according to your choice.
Now blend the soup. A simple hand blender is probably the easiest way to do this, for example Philips HR1363 Hand Blender with Beaker and Chopper Accessory.
Return to the stove and heat gently, stirring frequently, until the soup’s as hot as you want it to be. Add more water if you want it thinner. Enjoy with fresh bread. Delicious!
This goulash is the sort of thing you can add all kinds of vegetables and even nuts to. Goulash in Hungary is often more soup than stew; this goulash is somewhere in between and is best eaten from a bowl using a spoon. The liquid consistency also makes it very easy to cook, since like many of my recipes, with a little practice you can leave it cooking largely unattended with only minimal stirring.
You can also use peas, broccoli or cauliflower instead of carrots. Cauliflower and broccoli will require less cooking time, and peas even less.
- 1 onion
- a little olive oil
- lean free-range beef
- stock cube
- salt, pepper and garlic to taste
- paprika (ground mild red pepper) if you want that authentic Hungarian touch
Fry the onion in the oil until it’s lightly browned, in a big pot that comes with a lid, such as this one: Stainless Steel Stock Pot 26 cm/ 11 Ltr. (Large) RRP £25. If you make a large pot like this one, the stew should keep for a couple of days in the fridge; in fact I think the taste actually improves with time as the flavors blend together. Chop the beef roughly into cubes and add to the onion. Continue to fry, stirring occasionally, until the beef is also lightly browned. The precise amount of time isn’t too important — ten or fifteen minutes is usually enough on a low heat. You basically want the beef to look somewhat cooked, at least on the outside.
When the beef has browned, add lots of chopped carrots and chopped potatoes along with the seasoning and the stock cube. Cover with water. Place a lid loosely on the pot, bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer until the carrots and potatoes are cooked, stirring everything together with a wooden spoon every five or ten minutes or so. Cooking will typically take ten or twenty minutes.
With practice, you can condense the whole bringing-to-the-boil-and-simmering business into a single phase, which you can time so that you can largely just let it cook itself once the beef is browned.
You can also try using chicken instead of beef (make sure you cook it enough!) and add other vegetables in, such as celery, sweet potatoes, cooked beans from a tin or even walnuts or cashew nuts.
Irish Potato Bake, With Carrots
A deliciously warming and simple recipe, adapted to give you that vitamin A hit you so desire …
- cheese, such as English cheddar
- salt and pepper
Grease an oven-proof dish — something like this kind of thing: ProCook Graduated Red Oven To Table Dish 39cm Rectangular.
Chop the potatoes, carrots and onions. Layer them in the dish, adding seasoning and a little butter here and there as you go. Optionally sprinkle a little grated cheese on top. Bake in the oven at around 180 celsius/350 fahrenheit/gas mark 6.
You can cover the dish with a lid or foil if it looks like it’s getting too dry on top, or just turn some of the topmost vegetables over.
When everything’s cooked (test with a blunt knife), it’s time to eat … accompany with a glass of cold semi-skimmed milk.
These are good to take on a picnic or for a light lunch. Don’t go overboard though — raw carrot can be a little indigestible!
- one or two carrots, preferably young ones
- pitta breads
- salt and pepper
- a little olive oil
- juice of one lime
Grate the carrot and mix it with the seasoning, a little lime juice and a tablespoon or so of olive oil.
Toast the pittas briefly under a grill or in a toaster. You need to toast them just enough so that you can open them up carefully with a knife.
Spread hummus inside the pittas. Fill the pittas with the carrot mixture. If the carrot mixture is too wet, you can squeeze it out a little before you add it.
I hope you enjoy these delicious recipes as part of your healthy diet. All these recipes are fairly healthy and can be eaten as part of my weight loss plan.
Feel free to send me comments, links to your own carrots recipes, etc.