July 18, 2013

Lentils with Roasted Beets and Carrots

Did any of you out there know that beets and carrots are more nutritious when cooked?? It was news to me!

I'm reading an amazing book right now called Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson.  This woman deserves an award. She looked at over 6000 studies to write this book and in the process, totally busts our traditionally-held beliefs about nutrition. It's blowing my mind a little bit. Fellow nutrition-geeks of the world, get your hands on this one. 

Learning about the nutritional value of cooking carrots and beets is what inspired me to make this week's dish. Most of my life, I've been grating raw carrots and beets thinking that's the most nutritious way to eat them. I'm not going to stop because grated root veggie salads are such a delightful explosion of freshness and flavour. Plus there are some nutrients that are best eaten raw (like Vitamin C and folate which are partially destroyed when exposed to heat). But Jo Robinson's research shows that overall, when cooked whole and with their skins on, carrots and beets are more nutritious for us. She outlines four simple steps to maximize the nutritional value of carrots: 
  1. Choose whole carrots over the store-bought "baby carrots" (baby carrots are simply big carrots that have been whittled down, removing their most nutritious part: the skin and outer layer)
  2. Cook them whole (chop them after they are cooked instead)
  3. Steam or sauté them rather than boil them (since roasting basically does the same as sautéing, I'm assuming it has the thumbs up as well)
  4. Serve them with oil or fat of some kind (beta-carotene is fat-soluble)
Combining these methods will give you 8 times more beta-carotene than if you munched on raw baby carrots. Cool eh?! 

So that's why this week's recipe stars roasted beets and carrots. Served on French lentils with feta and an easy eggless aioli (invented by my brilliant sister), they are pure deliciousness. I've also included a half cup of fresh chopped carrot tops in this recipe because they lend such a great carrot-ey zing to the dish. So be sure to get market-fresh carrots with their tops still on for this one. And don't throw out those beet greens! According to Jo Robinson, they're one of the most nutritious leafy greens around. Steam them, add a little butter or olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper = very yum.

For the recipe, please visit my post on PBS Food. Bon appétit!


  1. Beautiful... but, you mean purchased baby carrots - as the ones in my garden haven't had their skins removed and aren't whittled down at all...
    Gorgeous photos and I am heading over to read the recipe.

    1. Yes thanks for pointing that out! :-) I just added the specification about store-bought baby carrots. Baby carrots from the garden are simply divine and every bit as nutritious I'm sure!

  2. I tried to eat thru my laptop screen. Your photos are gorgeous ... just gorgeous! I'm going to check out the recipe now!

  3. Made it, ate it and absolutely loved every bite! Thanks for the nutritional facts as well, I love that kind of stuff. ;)

    1. Hi Ann-Louise, thank you so much for letting me know you made it and enjoyed it, I love hearing back when people make my recipes. I'll try to keep the nutritional factoids coming in future posts too :-)