Carotenoids are named that way because originally they were chemically isolated from carrots (Daucus carota) for the first time. They are the chemicals responsible for giving warm colours to foods, such as reds and oranges and they can also be synthesised in our bodies to obtain the famous vitamin A, which is known to aid better vision and encourage proper cell growth.
Vitamin A and Carotenoids
Vitamin A has many benefits and is essential for us. Some of its advantages are as follows:
- Helps to take care of our sight: Vitamin A protects against the degeneration of the eyes, combats dry eyes and helps reduce eye problems.
- A source of antioxidants: It has anti-cancer properties, preventing tissue damage and cell damage, thus helping to decrease inflammatory processes as well.
- Improves our immune system: Excellent for strengthening our immune system so we get sick much less.
- Improves the appearance of skin and cell growth: Not only helps our skin to look healthy and radiant, but also aids wounds to heal faster, reduces the effects of aging and enhances collagen production, which helps both skin and hair.
Carotenoids are precursors of this vitamin and are much needed in the body. They can be found in many foods and most of the time their colours gives it away (red, orange and yellow). You can use this to help decide which foods contain it. Some of the most accessible and popular are: carrots, tomatoes, peppers, sweet potato, pumpkin, melon, mango, peppers, oranges, tangerines, pineapple and many more. Hopefully this will encourage you to easily incorporate carotenoids into your diet and here are some easy, practical and very complete recipes to get you started:
Recipes rich in Carotenoids
Glazed Carrots with Honey and Rosemary
- 4-5 Carrots
- 1 tbsp. Olive oil
- 3 tbsp. Honey
- 1 tbsp. Lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. freshly chopped rosemary
- Salt and pepper (sufficient amount)
1. This recipe is very quick and easy: First thing to do is cut the carrots as you like, whether in sticks, diagonally or diced. You can also use baby carrots if you wish.
2. Once you have chopped the carrots, place them in a pan with some sizzling oil.
3. Sautée the carrots, stirring occasionally until they are slightly browned.
4. Add honey and mix in, making sure to cover all the carrots with honey to glaze them completely and continue to stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
5. Add the lemon juice, chopped rosemary and mix with honey and carrots.
6. Finally, check that the carrots are cooked through and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- 2 to 4 Peppers
- 300g Ground beef
- 1 clove of garlic
- ½ an Onion
- 1 Carrot
- 2 Tomatoes
- ¼ cup of Peas
- 1 cup Cooked rice
- ½ cup of Manchego cheese
- Vegetable oil
- Salt and Pepper
1. Cut the tops off the peppers - it is important to cut just enough to avoid wasting pepper and so that they remain a good size.
2. Discard the part you cut off, or some of the edible parts of the pepper can be chopped up and placed in the filling. With a sharp knife, remove the seeds and the inside of the peppers. If peppers don't stand up easily on the tray, you can cut a bit off the base and they will stay in position without falling over.
3. Chop the garlic and onion finely.
4. Chop the carrot and dice the tomato.
5. Sauté the onion and garlic in a little oil until the onion begins to change colour.
6. Add the carrot and saute a few minutes; once sauteed, add the tomato and cook until it softens.
7. Add the ground beef and cook until it changes colour.
8. Incorporate peas and mix together.
9. Season the stuffing with salt and pepper to taste.
10. Remove the stuffing from heat and add the previously cooked rice.
11. Fill the peppers with this mixture and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes until peppers are tender.
12. Remove from the oven and place the cheese on top. Place back in the oven for 2 to 5 minutes maximum until the cheese begins to melt.
Caprese salad with tomato and basil
- 1 Tomato
- 2 tbsp. Basil
- 250g Mozzarella cheese
- 2 tbsp. Olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
1. Slice the tomatoes into medium slices, trying to use tomatoes which are ripe but still firm enough not to fall apart.
2. Slice the mozzarella cheese in the same manner as the tomato.
3. Place the tomato on a platter, alternating between slices of mozzarella cheese and basil.
4. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.