Whenever I skip a step in the kitchen, or do something just for convenience, I hear my mother's voice, "It's so much cheaper to just do it yourself and it only takes a minute." Well, I loved my mother very much, but I'm not sure that's always true. True or not, thanks to her scolding, buying a bag of shredded carrots feels like a luxury. And I put them in everything, all year long. Because they're good for me and healthy food should be easy.
For breakfast, they work well in omelets, muffins or veggie pancakes. For lunch, I'll toss them in a salad, saute them to add to a quesadilla or add them to a sandwich. We try to slip veggies into our kids however we can, and have been known to add a handful to their sandwiches, though one middle schooler once said, "Mom. I'm sorry, I just don't want to be the guy with carrots on his sandwich." But, sweetheart, they're so good for you! Just tell the other kids it's bahn mi. Middle schoolers can be quirky.
For dinner, the possibilities are endless. A bag of pre-shredded carrots takes some of the already minimal work out of making a mirepoix, the perfect base for an easy soup, pasta sauce or pot of beans. Shredded carrots can be added to meatloaf, stir-fry, casserole or rice dishes. They add a sweet flavor to my juices and make carrot cake that much easier to prepare.
When I was younger, I liked raw carrots. I despised the large, cooked carrots with pot roast. Why? I don't know, but I still don't love them. Cooked, shredded carrots, on the other hand, I find delightful. Apparently, I also enjoy shredded carrots raw as a snack, which I have just discovered while munching on them as I type.
And I suddenly find myself craving the carrot salad of my childhood, with sugar, Duke's mayonnaise and raisins. On the other hand, I'm intrigued by this peanut, carrot and cabbage slaw. Of course, I've eaten all the carrots, so I'd have to go back to the store.
What ingredients do you keep in your kitchen and find yourself using all the time?
(Image credits: Anne Postic)