Carrots showcased in schools this month |

Carrots showcased in schools this month

It’s December, which means the holidays are here and with the colder nights and shorter days, we’re all doing a lot of eating with family and friends!

This month’s featured item in Sierra Harvest’s Harvest of the Month program is carrots from Mountain Bounty Farm.

This month, students from 12 local schools will be tasting bright, sweet, beautiful, local carrots. Suzanne Grass, food service director for Grass Valley Child Nutrition Services, is joining in on the fun and doing a tasting of delicious roasted carrots at Bell Hill Academy, as well.

Have you had the pleasure of eating a winter carrot? With the drop in temperatures, many vegetables turn starches into sugars so that the plant won’t freeze. What this means to us is that right now we can eat the sweetest carrots and greens of the whole year.

Speaking of sugars, carrots contain more sugar than any other vegetable except for beets. No wonder it’s everyone’s favorite!

Luckily for us carrots are always in season in California. You can find them fresh, frozen or canned, but many growers in this area have them available fresh for most of the year.

Did you know that a 1⁄2 cup of carrots (fresh or cooked) provides more than 200 percent of the recommended Daily Value for vitamin A? Vitamin A is important because it helps keep your vision good and your skin healthy. It also helps your body fight infections.

Here’s some history about this popular root:

— Originating near Afghanistan, several thousand years ago, the ancient ancestors of the modern carrot were not yellow-orange, but of purplish colors ranging from lavender to almost black. The yellow-orange root came from a mutant variety that lacked the purple pigment.

— Purple and yellow-orange varieties spread west to the Mediterranean, where ancient Greeks and Romans used them for medicinal purposes.

— In the 14th century, carrots arrived in China, which is now the world’s leading carrot producer.

— Around the 1600s, the purple variety nearly became extinct, and the yellow-orange variety was introduced to America and Japan.

— The high beta carotene content of carrots was discovered in the 19th century. During World War II, the British worked to develop a variety of higher beta carotene carrots to help their aviators see better at night.

— You may have great vision but eating too many carrots can result in a condition called “carotenemia,” causing the skin to turn yellowish orange, especially on the palms or soles of the feet. It is completely harmless and is reversible once the consumption of carrots is reduced.

Here’s a delicious and easy seasonal carrot recipe from that will have your family asking for more — despite the risk of turning orange!

Jeweled Carrot Salad with Apple and Pomegranate Recipe

Prep time: 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 as a side.

2 cups, freshly grated carrots (from 2 to 3 large carrots)

1 large sweet apple, peeled, cored, chopped

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoons honey

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup craisins

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Place grated carrots and chopped apples in a large bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice and toss to coat.

Stir in honey, mayonnaise, raisins and craisins. Stir in pomegranate seeds. Add more lime juice, mayonnaise, or honey to taste.

Serve immediately.

Amanda Thibodeau is with Sierra Harvest.

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