3-Ingredient 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.
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)!
- 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
- 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
- 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!
- Lee-Kwan SH, Moore LV, Blanck HM, et al. Disparities in state-specific adult fruit and vegetable consumption — United States, 2015.
- 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.