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Seasonal focus: carrots

carrotsThey help you see in the dark, Bugs Bunny loves them, they bring colour to your roast dinner and they’re generally yummy. Hooray for the humble carrot!

Again they tend to be available all year round, so often get overlooked in seasonal lists, but we thought it was time the lovely (usually) orange staple got a mention.

Although we usually think orange when we think carrot, they do come in a variety of other colours including a deep purple and white. The purple carrots tend only to be purple on the outside and still have an orange middle, and can be a bit more peppery than the others while the white ones tend to be sweeter.

A great source of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy eyes, helps boost the immune system and vital for the healthy growth of bones and teeth, carrots are also low in fat and calories. An all round hero on the plate.

The sweetness of carrots goes well with spices such as ginger and allspice, both of which can be simply mixed with some oil to coat carrots for roasting, and who can forget the classic partnering of carrot and coriander in a lovely, warming soup – the colour of which alone can cheer you at the end of a wintry day?

But not only is it great at taking centre stage in a dish, it also adds a certain something to so many dishes when gently cooked alongside onions and celery as in this Spiced Winter Lentil Soup with Zahtar, as submitted by Shaun Kelly (thanks Shaun!).

Or if you’re trying to give your body a rest after any possible festive overindulgence, carrot batons make a great snack – either on their own or dipped into a delicious baba ghanoush or homemade houmous.

And for those of you with a sweet tooth let’s not forget the lovely moist carrot cake iced with a smooth and creamy soft cheese topping. If you’d rather something that comes in a smaller portion size or just can’t get enough of the wave of cupcakes sweeping the nation then feast your eyes on Sarah Cook’s recipe for Carrot and Cream Cheese Cupcakes