In Season: Carrots

Carrots get a bad rep as "rabbit food," but there’s nothing boring about them. With all their flavor and health benefits, they’re worth celebrating this time of year, and we've got recipes for the occasion. Read on to find out everything you've ever wanted to know about carrots -- we'll even give you the story on the baby carrot controversy.

Carrots have a bad rep as "rabbit food," but there’s nothing boring about them. With all their flavor and health benefits, they’re worth celebrating this time of year, and we've got recipes for the occasion -- plus, the story behind baby carrots.

What, Where & When?

Appearing in farmers' markets as early as May, fresh carrots are available through December in some parts of the country. Even though orange is the classic color, you can find purple, yellow, red and white varieties. Carrots are also unique because they grow downward into the soil instead of upwards towards the sun.

Carrots can range in length from three to nine inches. Here's the truth: Most of the “baby carrots” you see in the grocery store are actually full-grown carrots that have been chopped and whittled down to to that miniature appearance. Some farmers do this so they can use up deformed carrots instead of tossing them. Because the carving process removes the outer layer of skin, carrot “babies” are dipped into a bath of chlorinated water before packaging to preserve freshness and kill bacteria. The process is considered safe, but you can always avoid it by cutting up your own full-size carrots. Read this USA Today article to learn more about the birth of baby carrots.

Nutrition Facts

You can eat a whole cup of carrots for fewer than 55 calories! They’re also one of the best sources of beta-carotene around. That's the antioxidant form of vitamin A, which helps maintain good eyesight and protect the body from heart disease and certain types of cancer. Eating carrots will also give you fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium.

What To Do With Carrots

Don't get stuck on carrot sticks! Carrots' sweet and aromatic quality means they pair well with everything from brown sugar to curry powder to just a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt. Use them raw in salads, slaws, sandwiches and juices. I’m always amazed how delicious a classic shredded carrot salad with raisins, vinegar and spices can be.

Cooking carrots really brings out their sweetness. I love them roasted, grilled or boiled and mashed with other root veggies such as parsnips, turnips and sweet potatoes. If you've got a sweet tooth, try baking them into breads, cakes, muffins and cookies. They add natural sweetness and help to keep your baked goodies moist.

Shopping Tip: Choose carrots that are firm and brightly colored. Cut off the green leafy top, if it's attached, and store your bunches in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Carrots like the cold, so the bottom of the produce drawer is a great spot to stash them.

    Recipes to Try:
Keep Reading

Next Up

In Season: Rhubarb

I get excited about any produce that’s harvested in early spring because it means the season is getting started! My mother-in-law is growing rhubarb in her garden this year – my job is to come up with things to do with this unique vegetable.

In Season: Pomegranates

Pomegranates have become the poster fruit for healthy eating and not without reason -- they're beautiful, delicious and full of vitamins. Here are some fun pomegranate facts and creative ways to prep this luscious fruit.

In Season: Peaches

Peach season has finally arrived! My 5-year old daughter has been waiting for me to bring home fresh ones ever since summer began. Read up on the different types and try some of our deliciously peachy recipes.

In Season: Celery Root

This veggie won’t win any beauty contests, but it’s nutritious and adds a spicy, fresh and delicious flavor to your dishes. Find out more on this underappreciated root veggie and some ideas on how to use it.

In Season: Bell Peppers

My kids love chomping on crunchy slices of these sweet and mid peppers. Who am I to complain when one cup has more vitamin C than an orange? So grab these babies while their in peak season.

In Season: Lemons

There’s more to this fruit than just lemonade -- learn why these citrus fruits are so good for you, and how to use them everywhere from appetizers to desserts.

In Season: Swiss Chard

This leafy green is in season and ready to bring nutritional goodness to your table.

In Season: Watermelon

Full of cancer-battling lycopene and low in calories, watermelon is a classic summer fruit that works well alone, paired with cheese or mixed into a drink.

In Season: Fennel

Everyone in my family thought they didn’t like fennel until I showed them some easy and delicious ways to prepare it. This cool and crisp veggie is on my weekly shopping list for the summer.