3-Ingredient Maple Glazed Carrots

maple glazed carrots

maple glazed carrots(Updated February 6, 2021)

This maple glazed carrots 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!  (April 2020 update:  If you’re a fellow food and you love healthy comfort food, you’d LOVE my balsamic roasted brussel sprouts and roasted root veggie medley recipes!)

First of all, this recipe is 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!

Let me explain… 

Health benefits of carrots

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…

Surprising fact about carrots

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

Are you shocked?!  Read on.

fresh carrots for maple glazed carrots recipe

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). 

Benefits of carotenoids in carrots

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).

What are some other food sources of beta-carotene?

We don’t need to be munching on carrots multiple times a week in order to meet the above guideline!  My favorite go-to foods with beta-carotene include 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 I recommend including some vitamin A-rich foods in their diet in ADDITION to consuming orange veggies on-the-reg (5)!  

Fat-soluble vitamins

  • 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!

Maple glazed carrots recipe

Ingredients: 

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

Directions: 

  1. Peel and chop carrots. 
  2. Heat butter/oil and maple syrup in frying pan on medium heat and then add carrots.
  3. Cover and simmer until they are cooked through – about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Optional – garnish with something green!

References:

  1. Lee-Kwan SH, Moore LV, Blanck HM, et al. Disparities in state-specific adult fruit and vegetable consumption — United States, 2015.
    MMWR. 2017;66:1241–1247.
  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. Leung WC, Hessel S, Méplan C, Flint J, Oberhauser V, Tourniaire F, Hesketh JE, von Lintig J, Lietz G. Two common single nucleotide polymorphisms in the gene encoding beta-carotene 15,15′-monoxygenase alter beta-carotene metabolism in female volunteers. FASEB J. 2009 Apr;23(4):1041-53. 

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