The namesake of the carrot, beta-carotene, not only gives carrots their orange colour but it is also responsible for providing many of their health benefits. Beta-carotene is a red-yellow food pigment that is converted to Vitamin A in the body. It is the Vitamin A that is important for us.
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene. As children, we were told how good carrots were for our eyes, but now researchers also see carrots in a whole new light. The healing potential of carrots goes far beyond their ability to help our vision. They contain a variety of compounds that may prevent certain cancers, lower cholesterol and prevent heart attacks.
Vitamin A helps vision by forming a purple pigment that the eye needs in order to be able to see in dim light. This pigment, called rhodopsin, is located in the light sensitive area of the retina. People with low levels of Vitamin A may suffer from night blindness, which can make it more difficult to drive after dark.
While many foods are more nutritious if you eat them raw, carrots actually benefit from a little cooking. The reason is because carrots have a lot of dietary fibre which traps the beta-carotene. Cooking carrots helps free the beta carotene from the fibre cells, making it easier for your body to absorb.
But wait – there’s more! When you team your carrots up with organic brown rice and chickpeas, then you have a winner recipe for mood-boosting benefits as well. Diets high in healthy, wholefood carbohydrates have been shown to increase brain concentrations of the amino acid (protein) called tryptophan, which is then converted in the body to make your mood-boosting serotonin.
A cup of chickpeas also contains 70.2 mg of choline, which helps with brain and nervous system function. Choline plays a role in mood, muscle control, learning, and memory, as well as the body’s metabolism, so if menopause melancholy or brain fog is getting you down, then turn away from the endless, expensive supplements and get this delicious Mediterranean salad, which you can serve hot or cold, into you this weekend. I love this recipe and I hope you do too.
Ingredients (this recipe has been adapted from the Two Raw Sisters Cookbook)
- Enough Brown Rice for who you are cooking for
- Enough Carrots for who you are cooking for (I used 2 for three people)
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp paprika
- Dates, chopped
- Garlic and Onion, chopped
- Toppings: Flaked almonds or peanuts, fresh rocket and parsley
- Dressing: 1 x lemon, 1 tsp soy sauce, extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 220 C.
- Chop the carrots into rounds or slivers. Place the carrots, chickpeas, dates, garlic, onion, cumin, cinnamon, paprika on a baking tray and drizzle with quite a bit of olive oil. Toss well to combine. Cook for 20 – 25 minutes (until the carrots are soft).
- Cook the brown rice.
- Once the rice is cooked, transfer to a bowl and add roasted carrots/ chickpea mix. Then add the dressings and toppings and serve.
Schwingshackl L., Morze J., Hoffmann G. (2020). Mediterranean diet and health status: Active ingredients and pharmacological mechanisms. Br J Pharmacol. Mar;177(6):1241-1257.
Zeisel, S. H., & da Costa, K. A. (2009). Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutrition reviews, 67(11), 615–623.