Saturday 20 January 2018

Healthy eating: Susan Jane White says Carrots are a VIP vegetable

Carrots are a VIP vegetable, says Susan Jane White, so stick their tasty goodness on your little terror's guest list

These plump sticks of beta-carotene are among our favourite veg. While tomatoes and potatoes might pip them at first place, carrots are the Rosanna Davison of the vegetable world. They get most parties started. Try finding a recipe for a soup, stew or roast that doesn't count on their presence.

Juicing carrots can make their stash of goodness immediately available for absorption. Vitamin A, lutein, fibre, antioxidants and vitamin C -- pure rocket fuel for the blood. It beats a shot of caffeine. If you're looking for a good juicer, the Philips Pro Aluminium Juicer is an excellent one.

Winter Toddler Treats

This is a great way of sneaking goodness into your little terror's diet. There's carrot, apple, apricot, goji berries, banana, ginger, dates, seeds and wholegrains. No sugar, gunk or guilt.

Wholemeal flour is considerably tastier than the white, refined equivalent. Wholemeal flour includes the 'germ' of the wheat kernel. Nope, this isn't bad stuff. Confusing, isn't it? The germ is in fact a mecca of zinc, omega-3, protein and vitamin E -- important fodder for growing toddlers. Wholemeal flour also contains the outer fibrous layer called the bran, which is rich in B vitamins and deliciousness. Another reason to ditch the white powdery version.

A small caveat, dear reader: watch out for imposters posing as wholemeal, and marketed as 'whole wheat'. Wholemeal generally refers to unadulterated, milled and ground wheat kernels. Whole wheat on the other hand, can often mean the manufacturers have combined white flour with small amounts of bran. This process extends the shelf life of flour by taking out the healthy oils, but consequently reduces its nutritional bang: buyer beware. Ask your local grocers to stock Ballybrado organic flour, from a small family-run mill in Tipperary. Their flour is so darn fresh and tasty, it's sure to propel your baking into another cosmology. Without it, you'd only touch the clouds.

You will need:

2 tablespoons milled flaxseed

6 tablespoons fresh apple juice

1 medium banana, mashed

1 cup wholemeal spelt flour

? cup rye flour (or further wholemeal)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup carrots, grated

2 tablespoons goji berries, pre-soaked

6 dried apricots or dates, chopped and pre-soaked

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons date syrup or 5 tablespoons warm honey

Start off by preheating a conventional oven to 180 C, 350 F, Gas 4. Using a flat baking tray, count out 20 mini-muffin cases. I found reusable silicone mini-muffin cases in Dunnes Stores for less than a fiver. These are smaller than the traditional fairy-bun sizes that we're familiar with, but the traditional size works fine if that's what you have.

You'll need two big bowls. In bowl number one, combine the milled flaxseed with the apple juice and allow the seeds to expand into a quicksandy goo. Add the mashed banana and set this bowl aside.

Bowl number two wants sieved wholemeal spelt flour and rye flour, if you are using it, the baking powder and the ground ginger.

To the first bowl of quicksand, add the grated carrots, the pre-soaked goji berries, the chopped and pre-soaked apricots or dates, the olive oil and the date syrup or warm honey, whichever you are using. I prefer the results that date syrup gives, but it's only available online or in health-food stores.

Mix thoroughly, and fold this glossy batter into the second bowl containing the dry ingredients. Immediately scoop the mixture into your prepared tray of mini-muffin or fairy-bun cases. Bake for about 20 minutes, or 30 minutes if you're using regular-sized fairy-bun cases.


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