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Although carrots are available year-round in grocery stores, this is the time we use them the most. With the current cool, wet weather, a lot of Houstonians are making stick-to-your-ribs stews, casseroles and soups, and some of the very best uses for the sweet root. You can get different colors of carrots; orange might be the most common type but try purple, golden and red ones too. And did you know the darker the carrot, the sweeter it tastes?

This vegetable is rich in Vitamin A, soluble fiber and beta-carotene. Carrots are low in calories and can be cooked in myriad ways. Try braising, steaming or roasting them, or grate them into a salad. Carrots can be used in coleslaw recipes, perhaps served alongside roasted meat. Try honey-glazed carrots or carrot soup. You can scrub them clean and enjoy them raw or simply shred them and toss with cider vinegar and salt to make a nutritious, tasty side dish. Carrots can also be juiced and combined with other fruit and/or veggie juices for a healthy start to the day.

How to Buy and Store Carrots

Look for stiff, firm carrots and avoid those that bend or seem to be wilting. If there are greens attached, they should be bright and fresh. After removing the greens (you can reserve those for a pesto), you can store the carrots wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator. They will keep for a few weeks.

In a Starring Role at: Dessert Gallery

Carrots aren't just for salads, soups and entrees, you know. Carrot cake is a famous example of just how versatile this nutrient-rich vegetable can be. Try Dessert Gallery's carrot cake. Flavored with pecans, pineapple and cinnamon, this is a wonderful treat, and the cream cheese frosting is really good as well.

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Recipe: Easy Beef Stew with Carrots

What better recipe to make in the winter than a good old-fashioned beef stew? We are using sirloin tip roast here, along with potatoes, carrots and onion. Add beef broth and Worcestershire sauce for a rich, hearty flavor, then serve it in bowls with thick slices of bread on the side. This recipe serves 4 or 5 people, and you can freeze any leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds cubed sirloin tip roast
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 diced large potatoes
  • 3 sliced carrots
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 42 ounces beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

Toss the beef in the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Heat the oil in a big pot over a medium heat then add the beef and brown the cubes on all sides. Now add the potatoes, carrots and onion, then sprinkle with any remaining flour from the bowl. Stir well and cook for 3 minutes, then add the beef broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are tender, then stir in the Worcestershire sauce, add more salt and pepper if needed, and serve.

Stay tuned each week to learn more about what's fresh and exciting at the market and discover where you can enjoy the flavorful bounty of the season.

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