3-Ingredient Maple Glazed Carrots

This recipe was originally included as part of my 2018 holiday recipe e-book, but I love it so much that I decided it deserves to be a stand-alone blog post!

First of all, it’s only 3 ingredients (I’m all about being a minimalist whenever possible).

Secondly, it’s a vegetable.  According to the CDC, in 2015 only 9% of adults in the U.S. met the federal guidelines for daily intake of at least 3 to 4 servings of vegetables (1).  That being said, it’s part of my “dietitian mission” to help increase our country’s consumption of nutrient-dense whole foods… with an emphasis on veggies of course!

Carrots are incredibly versatile: we can enjoy them fresh or cooked, sweet or savory, and they make great additions to soups & juices.  Plus, they’re pretty kid-friendly (at least I think so!).

Carrots are also EXTREMELY nutrient-dense.  We’re encouraged to eat an orange veggie like carrots at least a few times a week, in order to reap the health benefits I am about to share with you…

But there’s something mind-blowing you should know:  There is NO vitamin A in carrots!!!!

Are you shocked?!  Read on.

True vitamin A in its activated state (“retinol”) is found only in animal products such as organ meats, egg yolks, pastured butter/ghee, and certain types of fish (2).  

Carrots are actually abundant in vitamin A’s precursor, beta-carotene (a fat-soluble antioxidant in the carotenoid family, which is responsible for the orange pigment). 

When properly converted to vitamin A, carotenoids such as beta-carotene are famous for boosting our immunity, promoting optimal eyesight, and reducing skin damage/aging (3).

In 2017, Researchers in Canada assessed the diets over 2,700 adults who smoked regularly and found that eating foods rich in carotenoids/antioxidants frequently has a strong preventive effect on lung cancer (4). 

We don’t need to be munching on carrots multiple times a week in order to meet the above guideline; beta-carotene is also found in sweet potatoes, orange peppers, turnips, and calendula (marigold) flowers to name a few.  Variety is a key component of health/balance, so go ahead and switch it up whenever you can!  

People with certain genetic mutations may struggle with converting beta-carotene into vitamin A, so it’s beneficial to include some vitamin A-rich foods in their diet in ADDITION to consuming orange veggies on-the-reg (5)!  

  • More is not always better: fat-soluble vitamins become toxic in large doses, and it’s ideal to get our vitamins from food versus supplements whenever we can. 
  • Also, make sure to include some kind of fat (hummus, guacamole, butter/coconut oil, etc.) so that you are truly reaping the benefits of fat-soluble vitamins and pigments like the ones in carrots. 😉 

Speaking of fat-soluble vitamins, this recipe makes that easy for you!  The vegan or dairy-free option is to use coconut oil or Earth Balance instead of butter.  You will still reap lots of health benefits— I promise!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb bag carrots
  • 1/4 cup Kerrygold butter or coconut oil
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of real maple syrup (or coconut nectar or raw honey)
  • Optional garnish

Directions: 

Peel and chop carrots. 

Heat butter/oil and maple syrup in frying pan on medium heat and then add carrots.

Cover and simmer until they are cooked through – about 15-20 minutes.

Optional – garnish with something green!

References:

  1. cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p1116-fruit-vegetable-consumption.html.
  2. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-A
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4817424/
  4. frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fonc.2017.00023/full.
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19103647  

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