What is orange and sounds like a parrot? I bet you have all guessed it right away – a carrot!
If you ever cooked a meal in your life, you know how important carrots are – there is simply no cooking without them!
Buying carrots is a must whenever I go grocery shopping, but nevertheless, it sometimes happens that I have none in my fridge.
Of course, it is easy to run to the store and buy some as everyone sells carrots, but sometimes you simply cannot do it at that moment!
What should you do then? Is there a way to find a suitable carrot substitute and save your recipe? Read on and find out. 🙂
Further Reading: Vegetable Nutrient Chart
A few good-to-know facts about carrots
Carrots or Daucus carota as scientist refer to them, are root vegetables that are one of the most widely used vegetables in the world. They are fairly easy to grow and have a mild taste that makes them suitable for both sweet desserts and salty dishes. All nations and cultures use carrots in their cuisines.
This root vegetable can come in different colors such as orange, yellow, white, purple, and red. People eat taproot of the carrot but also use greens to make healthy salads and other dishes. There are various types of carrots, but the domesticated variety of Daucus carota is the prevailing type most often used nowadays.
Carrots are native to both Europe and Southwestern Asia, but the majority of them that you can buy in supermarkets across the USA are cultivated in China, as most other things nowadays. I like to give carrots as a stand-alone vegetable snack to my boys, but they are also an essential ingredient in my numerous recipes for soups, stews, salads, etc.
Everyone appreciates their sweet taste and crunchy texture, do you feel the same?
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Why eat carrots?
We have all heard or uttered the famous sentence “You need to eat carrots if you want to be healthy!“. I know I have said this to my boys (including my hubby) for at least thousand times!
We all know that carrots are great for our eyes too!
I bet you have heard the famous joke that explains how we can be sure that eating carrots will preserve our eyesight; the answer is quite simple – you never see a rabbit wearing eyeglasses, do you? 😀
However, carrots can do so much more for your health. In fact, the list of health benefits carrots can offer is so long that I got rather worn-out writing it down for you – so do read it, please!
Eating carrots will bring about:
1. reduced cholesterol levels
- A research done in Scotland proved that cholesterol level drop by approx. 11 percent if you consume seven ounces of raw carrots per day for three weeks.
2. lower risk of heart attacks
- As high cholesterol is a major cause of heart diseases, lowering cholesterol levels also brings about prevention from heart-related problems. A research conducted in Italy proved that people who eat a lot of carrots have a 1/3rd risk of heart attack in comparison to people who do not eat carrots at all.
3. prevention of certain cancers
- Beta-carotene found in carrots lowers the risk of several cancers, particularly lung cancer. British research found that if you consume 1.7 to 2.7 milligrams beta-carotene per day, you can reduce lung cancer risk by 40 percent. One medium sized carrot has around 3 milligrams of beta-carotene.
- As carrots are fiber-rich as well, they reduce the risk of colon cancer too. The risk is lowered by as much as 24 percent. The good news for women is that eating raw carrots will make them five to eight times less likely to develop breast cancer.
4. improved vision
- Rich in Vitamin A, carrots can do a lot for your eye-sight. Eating carrots significantly lowers the risk of macular degeneration (for approx. 40%), an eye disease that impairs the function of the macula among the elderly.
- The vision boosting properties of carrots do not end there. Carrots will bring about an overall improvement of your eyesight. People who eat carrots reportedly see better in dim light and have a lower risk of developing night blindness.
5. reduced signs of premature aging and improved skin
- If you want to keep your skin healthy and vibrant, you should eat a daily portion of carrots. Namely, beta-carotene and vitamin A help repair skin tissue. They will also protect your skin from the sun’s harsh rays and allow you to get tanned without ruining your skin structure. Carrot oil is a common ingredient in skin care products and is especially beneficial for dry skin as it makes it soft, firm and smooth.
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6. boost to the immune system
- Besides a number of beneficial nutrients, carrots also have antiseptic and antibacterial properties that will help you stay healthy. A great amount of vitamin C will stimulate the activity of white blood cells and thus boost your immune system.
7. improved digestion
- Carrots are rich in fiber which will improve your stomach and gastrointestinal health. Dietary fiber help maintain good digestive health by stimulating peristaltic motion. Fiber also aids the secretion of gastric juices. In this way, constipation becomes a thing of past. Moreover, your colon and stomach are protected from some serious illnesses, such as colorectal cancer.
- If you suffer from some liver conditions, eating carrots can help you overcome the problems you have. The combination of the antiseptic qualities and laxative properties will help detoxify your body.
9. better cardiovascular health
- Carrots have a high content of potassium, which acts as a vasodilator and relaxes the tension in our arteries and blood vessels. In this way, the blood flow increases and our circulation becomes better; the stress on the cardiovascular system is reduced, and our organs function better than they did before.
- In this way, high blood pressure is reduced as well as the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks or strokes (by 68%). If you do suffer a stroke, high levels of beta-carotene will help control the damage and speed up the recovery.
10. better oral health
- Carrots are filled with organic compounds which act as mineral antioxidants and stimulate your gums to produce more saliva. Alkaline saliva fights off the bacteria in your mouth thus preventing cavities and halitosis.
11. normal insulin levels
- Carotenoids found in carrots help regulate blood sugar levels. They affect insulin resistance lowering blood sugar in the process. Diabetic patients who intake high amounts of carotenoids have better chances to live a normal and healthy life. In fact, carotenoids normalize both insulin and glucose levels.
So, what makes the carrots so healthy?
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Five best carrot substitute veggies
As you can see carrots are tasty and healthy and should definitely be an integral part of your daily diet.
However, they are not indispensable; there are other equally healthy veggies that can replace carrots in case of emergency, or if you or your guests are allergic to carrots.
- If you are cooking soup, you can replace the carrots prescribed by the recipe with squash. Squash has a similar sweet and earthy flavor which will not alter the taste of your soup much.
- I personally replace carrots with squash every time I make cashew soup. I do it on purpose as I like my squash soup more when I prepare it like this. In my opinion, winter squash complements the taste of cashew exquisitely and gives the soup a great creamy texture.
- When you substitute carrots with squash, simply use the same amount squash following the recipe that you are preparing.
- If you want to use something that immediately screams carrots, you can use parsnips as they look very similar to carrots, except for the lack of orange color. Even the taste is similar as parsnips also have a sweet flavor, but they do differ in their strong herbal smell.
- I often combine the carrots and parsnips during my cooking as their combination brings out the best in both of these vegetables. Both are also highly nutritious and great for your health.
- Once again, you should use the same amount of parsnip as if you were using the carrots, and do not forget to peel them off as well. Be careful with cooking time as parsnips are softer and cook more quickly than carrots, so you will have to adjust the cooking time accordingly (i.e., shorten it). You can also use a trick of mine, and simply add parsnips later on when your meal is almost cooked and thus avoid it becoming mushy.
- Beets are yet another root vegetables similar to carrots and parsnips. Sometimes they have the same orange color as carrots but can also be dark purple. People eat both the root and leafy top.
- You can replace carrots with beets when you cook soups, but also in most of the boiled and roasted dishes. They are also excellent when steamed, just like carrots. Fresh salads and smoothies are also great with beets!
- The use is also simple – just substitute carrots with beets, and do everything else as usual. There is no need to alter your recipe whatsoever.
- Voted for one of the top five healthiest food, zucchini is definitely a great replacement for nutrient-packed carrots. They are one of the most popular summer vegetables and can be easily grown in any garden with minimal conditions provided. I grow zucchini in my backyard and always have a great yield with minimal time and effort invested.
- As we have already implied, zucchinis are filled with valuable nutrients. As another plus, they are, like carrots rich in vitamin A. Although very nutritious, they have only a few calories and are a great choice for all of you who are on a low-calorie diet or trying to lose weight.
- Zucchinis can be cooked in numerous ways and can replace carrots in almost every dish, including the sweet ones. You can even use them for juices as well. To substitute carrots, use one large zucchini instead of three medium-sized carrots. You do not have to follow the rule strictly, for example, if your recipe calls for five carrots simply use two zucchinis instead.
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- If you are making vegetable juice, and do not have carrots in stock, use a cucumber instead. Cucumbers are a great carrot substitute when it comes to juicing as they have a lot of water content and therefore you can get much more juice to drink and re-hydrate.
- One large cucumber replaces five medium carrots, and it is, therefore, easy to calculate how many cucumbers you will need to substitute the carrots in your recipe. Cucumber can also replace carrots in some salads.
Carrots are nutritious and delicious no matter how you prepare them – you can cook them steam them or juice them, they will always taste great.
But how can you replace such a valuable vegetable when you need to?
If you have carefully read my advice, you will know the best carrot substitute for whatever recipe you are planning to make!
It does not really matter what vegetables you use as long as you eat the recommended amount of veggies and lead a healthy life!
I hope you have learned something valuable from reading my article. I wish you all the best! 😉