Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lamb and Beef Burgers with Colourful Carrots

Yay my husband is back! Thank god! I was starting to run out of money to eat out and out of friends' places to eat. He picked the cooking right back up last night with some delicious lamb and beef burgers to which he added some St Ambroise Beer Mustard. They were so yummy and juicy. I had a picture of them but I figured once you've seen one burger, you've kind of seen them all, even when the meat is different. So I'm focusing this post on the beautiful carrots that accompanied the meat.

I've been reading online about carrots and they were originally purple or red with a thin root. They didn't turn orange until the 1500's when Dutch growers used a mutant yellow carrot seed from North Africa to develop a carrot in the colour of the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal Family.

The first carrots were grown for medicinal purposes, each one having it's own strength. Check out the specifics on each one – studies have been carried out in the USA on the differing properties of different coloured carrots.

Orange Carrots contain beta carotene, with some alpha-carotene, both of which are orange pigments. High in Vitamin A essential for well-being, healthy eyes. These carrots originate from Europe and the Middle East.

Yellow carrots contain xanthophylls and lutene, pigments similar to beta carotene, which help develop healthy eyes aid in the fight against macular degeneration and may prevent lung and other cancers and reduce the risk of astherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). These came from the Middle East.

Red carrots are tinted by lycopene, (another form of carotene) a pigment also found in tomatoes and watermelon; lycopene is associated with the reduced risk of macular degeneration, serum lipid oxidation, helps prevent heart disease and a wide variety of cancers including prostate cancer. Originally from India and China.

White carrots lack pigment, but may contain other health-promoting substances called phytochemicals, natural bioactive compounds found in plant foods that work with nutrients and dietary fibre to protect against disease. One might say these are the least healthy of carrots. They originate from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan.

Purple carrots (usually orange inside) have even more beta carotene than their orange cousins, and get their pigment from an entirely different class, the anthocyanins, these pigments act as powerful antioxidants, grabbing and holding on to harmful free radicals in the body. Anthocyanins also help prevent heart disease by slowing blood clotting and are good anti inflammatory agents. These originate from Turkey, and the Middle and Far East.

Black Carrots contain anthocyanins, part of the flavonoid family with antioxidant properties. Flavonoids are currently under investigation as anticancer compounds, as free radical scavengers in living systems, as well as inhibitors of LDL (the bad) cholesterol and the black carrot anthocyanins are especially active.

It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungicidal properties and oil made from its seed can help control scalp itchiness and provides essential nutrients for hair growth. The ancient black carrot has been making a comeback, not so much for culinary purposes but as a source of natural food colorants. These originate from Turkey, and the Middle and Far East.

I grabbed all this info from the carrot museum web site. Pretty interesting stuff.

And of course, I can't leave out the delicious wine that my friends Amy and Andrew brought for dinner – 2006 Syrah from K Mountain Vineyards that they picked up directly from the vineyard on their trip across Canada. Very bold and beautiful.

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