Sunday, March 9, 2014

Carrot Top Pesto And 10 Other Ways To Use Carrot Tops

Carrots store best with their tops removed so remove
 them as soon as you bring them home or harvest them.

Not throwing away food is one of my pet peeves. A new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report found out that 30% of the food produced in the United States is wasted every single day. That is a lot. Big part of it is of course the stores and restaurants, not all households throw away a third of their food but still. I have nearly zero tolerance for throwing away food. I have noticed that when not buying bread and milk and junk foods, we throw very little food away. The vegetables rarely go bad if stored right. Some vegetables like roots and cabbage and hard shelled squashes and pumpkins last for a very long time. Fermented, they last even longer. The meat, stored properly (ours is most often in the freezer), does not have to go bad. Overripe fruit I freeze for smoothies or bake, all others we eat. I use all parts of vegetables usually and I boil leftover bones, chicken legs, necks, fish heads and carcasses etc. to nourishing broth.

I am always looking for more ways to utilize all parts of our food sources. I was asked recently how to use the carrot tops so I thought I'd collect ideas in a post. I first heard about utilizing the carrot tops when someone told me that in Finland - where I used to sell vegetables and berries and chantarelles at a small town farmers market - Chinese immigrants come to collect the carrot tops the sellers throw away as the customers do not want them in their baskets. Wow, so you can eat them too. here are five ways to utilize them and lastly the recipe of a carrot top pesto.

Oh and before you bring up the myth about carrot tops being toxic, check out this excellent post busting the myth.

1. Mix them in your sauteed greens
Chop greens like chard, kale, collard, mustard greens or turnip greens and mix some carrot tops in the mix. Sautee in a pan in broth.

2. Use them instead of parsley
Carrot is in the same plant family as parsley. The flavor is not exactly the same but you can just fine use it instead of parsley in recipes. Try it for instance in Robin Hood Chicken.

3. Add them to your stock pot
When making vegetable or meat broth, some use vegetables and parsley to improve the flavor. Try adding the carrot tops in your next batch of broth.

4. Add to salads
Garnish any salad with carrot tops. Chop them first or cut in one inch pieces with scissors.

5. Herbes Salées (Salt Herb Preserve)
Preserve your end of the season herbs with carrot tops in a jar with salt. Very cool recipe from Well Preserved.

6. Steam them
Simple recipe: Steam the carrot tops, add some coconut aminos (try coconut oil too) and enjoy!

7. Green smoothies
Add some carrot tops to your green smoothie. Our favorite green smoothie is: 1/2 banana, 1/3 cup blueberries, a few handfuls of greens, a few splashes of water or coconut milk and ice. Put in a blender and blend until smooth!

8. Juice them
Just like with smoothies, use the greens like any greens in your green juice. Juice some carrot tops with an apple, carrots, a small piece of ginger and a small clove of garlic (my favorite juice recipe).

9. Medicinal uses (Source:
Carrot greens have antiseptic qualities. They have been added to mouthwashes. They have also been mixed with honey and used to disinfect sores.They are also diuretic and can help treat kidney disease and edema. Chewing carrot leaves can heal injuries in the mouth, bad breath, gum bleeding and mouth ulcers. Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides (c. 40-c. 90), who catalogued over 600 medicinal plant specie, said that the Greeks used carrot leaves against cancerous tumors.

Make carrot top tea for detoxing, strengthening kidneys or urinary issues: Take a handful of carrot leaves, wash them, tear them in pieces and put them in a pot. Pour boiling water on them, cover and steep until tea has cooled down. Strain the tea and drink it or store in the fridge for a few days.

10. Yellow dye
Use them for yellow natural dye! Incredible, huh? Follow these directions.

And finally:

Carrot Top Pesto
Tops from 3 bunches of carrots
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp sea salt
1/2-3/4 cups of olive oil (or enough for the blender to blend well)
a handful of fresh basil leaves 
(ground black pepper to taste)
(1 tsp nutritional yeast)

Add all ingredients in a blender and blend until desired consistency. You can also use a food processor. Eat with zucchini pasta, put on grilled veggies or dip veggies in it.

For more autoimmune paleo recipes, check out this roundtable by Phoenix Helix where this recipe is posted as well.

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