One medium-sized gajar contains 5 054 micrograms of beta carotene, which is equivalent to 53 % of adult's requirement for Vitamin A. In the body, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A – an antioxidant that destroys free radicals and prevents damage of the cells. Research has shown that antioxidants like Vitamin A and C found in fruits and vegetables provide protection against non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Vitamin A also prevents night blindness and helps in maintaining healthy skin.
No wonder mum always said that “carrots are good for your eyes and complexion!”
Three things to do with gajar
- Juice them: Choose the orange/red variety of gajar. Chop them into pieces and put them in a juicer. Strain the juice through a sieve. You may combine with other fruit and vegetables like tomatoes, beetroots or spinach. It's best to have juices fresh, rather than canned or packaged, without added sugar.
- Pickle them: If you enjoy pickles, peel and cut the gajar into long 1½ inch pieces, julienne style. Do the same with green papaya, raw mango, green chillies, ginger or fresh turmeric (haldi). In a bowl, add the vegetables and sprinkle on some salt and turmeric. Set aside for 1–2 hours. Drain the water, add vinegar, coarsely ground mustard seeds (rai), then mix. Place the mixture in a glass bottle, ensuring that the vinegar covers the vegetables. The carrot pickle (gajar ka achar) will be ready to eat after 2–3 days, and you can keep it for up to two weeks.
- Grate them: Grate the gajar and add them to your salads, sandwiches, cakes, muffins, idlis, dosas, parathas, cutlets, tikkis and kheer. It's a good way to get fussy eaters – especially children – to eat more vegetables. Traditionally in India, grated gajar is used to make Gajar ka Halwa which is eaten as a warm dessert during the winter months.
Carry some gajar sticks in your bag when at work or have them handy in the fridge. They are great to munch on in between meals as a snack, when you get hungry.