You'll get plenty of vitamin A, antioxidants, B vitamins and fiber from carrots, but they don't have to be a boring snack. You can prepare carrots in a variety of ways to keep them light and healthy while pleasing your taste buds at the same time. Because carrots are naturally low in calories, giving you around 60 calories from three 5 1/2-inch carrots, you'll want to season them with herbs or spices to add flavor, without making a spike in the calorie content.
Because carrots are incredibly rich in fiber, giving you nearly 4.5 grams from three 5 1/2-inch carrots weighing 150 grams, by pairing them with protein-loaded hummus, you'll have just the right combination to curb your appetite for the afternoon. Pack yourself a 1/4-cup side of hummus along with your carrot sticks. You'll get a total of just 160 calories, for a snack with 6.5 grams of protein and over 8 grams of total fiber.
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As a Steamy Side
You can steam carrots atop of other foods you're already cooking on your stove. For example, if you're boiling pasta, place a veggie or bamboo steamer right on top of your heated pot of water. As your other food item is cooking, so will your carrots. You don't need a stove to steam up carrots, though. Just place diced or baby carrots in a shallow bowl, add a few drops of water and cover with a moist paper towel. Microwave your carrots until they're tender enough for you to enjoy. The reason steaming is such a healthy way to cook is because you're not adding any fat to your veggies during the cooking process. Additionally, because you won't expose the carrots to heat or water for too long, as you would if you boiled them, you won't lose as much of the valuable water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C.
Roasted to Perfection
Rather than plain old baked french fries as a side for your entree, roast up some carrot sticks. Cut your carrots into thin even pieces, resembling fries. Lay the carrot strands out on a hot baking sheet, drizzle with a touch of heart-healthy olive oil and place under the broiler in your oven. You'll need to rotate the carrot sticks frequently to ensure even cooking, but when they're done, you'll have a sweet, nutrient-filled alternative to fries.
As a Puree
If you or someone in your family isn't a fan of carrots, you can puree them and be a bit sneaky. Simply steam your carrots until they're fork-tender. After they're cool, pile them into your food processor with a small amount of water. Puree the carrots thoroughly, forming a thick, evenly consistent paste. You can add that carrot puree to your favorite marinara sauce, meatloaf recipe, ground turkey patties, side of brown rice or even stir a few scoops into your morning oatmeal. You'll get a touch of added sweetness as well as the beneficial fiber and nutrients carrots have to offer, without having to actually munch on a carrot stick.
- American Heart Association: Healthier Preparation Methods for Cooking
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Carrots, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Hummus, Commercial
- Cooking Light: 12 Ways to Eat More Vegetables and Fruit
- Time Magazine: The Healthiest Cooking Methods Explained