Healthy Living Help: How Many Calories are in a Carrot?

Carrot sticks are good for you. We’ve known that forever. Right? I can remember when I was just a little girl, being thin was really the “in” thing. I mean uber thin. Like Twiggy thin. All the women were dieting so they could be thinner – even though most of them were pretty darned thin by today’s standards. It seems like half the teenage girls and women at that time were living on “diet platters” consisting mainly of carrot sticks, celery, and cottage cheese.

Carrot sticks were a dieter’s best friend. Everyone knew that they were low in calories, even though most of us had very little idea what a calorie was! Most of us didn’t understand that a calorie is just a measurement of energy. And we had no idea how many calories were in a healthy meal, let alone how many we needed to consume in a day.

We just had this vague idea that eating too many calories made you fat. So, of course, the best possible thing was to consume as few calories as we could. Notice that nobody ever talked about our minimum caloric needs. But then again, this was before most of us had ever heard of eating disorders like anorexia. And malnutrition was something that happened in faraway places like Ethiopia – wherever that was!

But let’s get back to the carrot sticks.


Have you ever been told a carrot has ‘negative’ calories? (Graphic made in Canva using a public domain photo by Pixabay user klimkin)
Are carrots really a negative calorie food?

How Many Calories Were in Those Carrot Sticks?

Carrot sticks were supposed to be really low in calories. Nobody talked about carrots being very healthy (even though they are.) It was just important that, as food goes, they were low-cal. So eating lots of carrots was good for you. It could help to make you really skinny. And of course, the only way to eat them was raw. Who knew why? It just seemed healthier somehow.

Girls as young as 7 or 8 were being asked if they could “pinch an inch” and were bombarded with messages about dieting to get thinner. Carrot sticks were one of the few foods we didn’t feel guilty about eating. So inevitably, they became the stuff of urban legends.

Some people said carrot sticks had only 5 calories each. I heard people say a whole carrot had 15 calories. Eventually, people started saying that the calories from eating raw vegetables like cauliflower and carrot sticks didn’t “count.” And that led to people saying that it took more calories to chew and digest the carrot than the vegetable actually supplied! Thus was born the legend of the “negative calorie” food.



Are Carrot Sticks a ‘Negative-Calorie’ Food?

People who promote the idea of negative-calorie foods say that some foods actually supply fewer calories than your body needs to handle the work of chewing, digestion, and processing of nutrients. They also say that some foods, mostly low-carb vegetables like carrot sticks, can boost your metabolism.

If you’ve watched popular TV shows that present this theory, you may have seen dramatic demonstrations of a woman eating a huge meal of beautiful, raw vegetables. The TV segment includes before and after measurements of this woman’s metabolism, plus some cool calculations that are supposed to prove that eating these vegetables sped up her metabolism so she was burning calories more efficiently after eating her carrot sticks, cucumber, celery, and fruits. There’s also an impressive demonstration that involves fire, which you just know is going to leave an impression in the viewers’ minds.

But did you notice that there was never any comparison to show what happens to this same lady’s metabolism if she ate a meal prepared from ingredients that aren’t on the list of negative-calorie foods? Ever wonder why not?

What Science Says About Negative Calorie Foods

If you search for scientific studies that prove some foods have a negative-calorie impact, you’re going to have a tough time finding any. What you will discover is that evidence-based discussions of negative-calorie foods like carrot sticks explain that your body does use some calories to digest food.

Your body needs about 5-15% of the calories you eat to break down the foods you eat and to make use of their nutrients. That applies to all the foods you eat, not just the ones that are high in water and fibre and low in fat. And a far greater percentage of your daily calorie intake goes to cover physical activity and your basic metabolic rate, or BMR.

Never mind, though! The dieters have always wanted to hear stuff like this. It makes you feel better about eating platters of rabbit food and curdled milk. It rewards you for passing up the foods you really wanted to eat, in favour of the carrot sticks or the trendy cabbage soup.  And as far back as the 70s, myths like this have made all of us little girls feel there was at least one “safe” food that we wouldn’t be chastised for eating when our bodies were hungry.

Carrot sticks are a dieter's friend (Image: cocoparisienne/Pixabay/CC0)
Carrot sticks are a dieter’s friend. They are low in calories, fat and sodium, and have no cholesterol. They are also packed with nutrients, and they taste great!


The Truth About Calories and Carrots

Despite all the hype, those carrot sticks really are good for you. A medium carrot has just 25 calories – a bit more than legend had it in the 70s, but still very reasonable. It has just the teensiest amount of polyunsaturated fat, no cholesterol or trans fat, and low sodium. It also supplies enough vitamin A for two whole days!

Carrots are a source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and vitamins C and B6. And one medium carrot fulfills the daily requirement that we eat one dark orange vegetable or fruit.

Carrots are one of the least expensive vegetables on your grocer’s shelf. They are versatile and they store well, and they are really easy to prepare. Raw carrots are the easiest, of course. Just wash them well and cut off the ends before eating (keep these for your soup bag, instead of throwing them away.) There’s no need to peel them unless the skins are really thick and nasty.

Preparing Carrot Sticks Ahead of Time

Carrot sticks are a great thing to have in your fridge. If they’re already prepared, you’ll be more likely to reach for them instead of an unhealthy snack like chips. And your kids are more likely to pack them in their school lunches or to grab a handful when they’re hungry after school.

Some people worry that cutting carrots ahead of time will rob the carrots of vital nutrients. But actually, it’s not that bad. Prepare what you need for a few days at a time and store carrot sticks and other cut vegetables in an airtight container in the fridge. As long as you keep your carrots cool, and away from water and light, they’ll hold their nutrients pretty well.


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Carrot sticks are the ultimate diet food. But is it true it takes more calories to digest a carrot than that carrot actually supplies? Learn how many calories are really in a carrot – and how many nutrients too! | Kyla Matton Osborne (@Ruby3881) | 24 Carrot Diet
Carrots are a low calorie snack – but not really a “negative calorie food”
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Now in Your Grocery Store: Are Purple Carrots Genetically Modified?

.Purple carrots are relatively new to our tables here in North America. But they actually have a very long history in the rest of the world. Like the ubiquitous orange carrots we already know, they are high in beta-carotene and vitamin A. The purple colour comes from anthocyanins, the same phytochemicals that give blueberries and red cabbage their colour.

Purple carrots are noted for their role in weight loss. They are also high in fiber, and so are good for your heart health. The antioxidants in purple carrots may also help to prevent heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Are purple carrots genetically modified? Learn the history of carrots and their rainbow of colours. | #24CarrotDiet | GMO | purple carrot juice
Purple carrots are new to our markets, but they have a long history in the world


Where Do Carrots Come From?

Carrots originated in the Middle East about 5000 years ago. They first grew in Persia, which today is parts of Iran and Afghanistan. Early carrots grew wild, just like Queen Anne’s Lace (our wild carrot) does in many places today. Many of these wild vegetables were purple carrots.

People once used just the leaves and seeds of carrots. The roots were bitter and woody, and not nearly as substantial as today’s carrots. But carrot plants were desirable. As carrots spread throughout Arabia, Africa, and Asia, people began to cross different varieties with one another. This breeding improved upon the wild form and eventually gave us the sweet, crunchy root that we know today.

The ancient Egyptians prized purple carrots so much that they buried their Pharaohs with them. Carrots travelled from Egypt to Greece, and then to Rome. Carrots first appear in writing in Greece. Athenaeus wrote about them around 200 C.E.

Our word “carrot” ultimately comes from the Greek καρωτόν (karōton,) which itself derives from the Indo-European root *ker -, “horn.” So the name we’ve inherited for this vegetable describes its shape. The earliest carrots often branched into two or more forks. So they may even have looked like a pair of horns.

Are Purple Carrots Genetically Modified?

No, purple carrots are not genetically modified. In fact, naturally purple carrots are the earliest varieties of this root vegetable. They grew wild before people started to domesticate them.

Orange carrots didn’t exist in the beginning. But there were yellow carrots, in addition to the purple carrots. White and red carrots came along a bit later. All these colours have been growing consistently, somewhere in the world, since about the Middle Ages. The orange vegetable we eat today appeared fairly recently in the history of carrots.

Purple carrots were grown in Persia, Arabia, and North Africa, at least as far back as the 900s. They spread to Spain in the 12th century, and to Italy and China in the 13th century. By the 17th century, purple carrots had reached Japan as well.

Purple carrots have been popular in parts of Europe for years, but they are only beginning to show up in North America. You should be able to find purple carrots at some farmers markets, and seeds for growing purple carrots are available from most seed catalogues and nurseries. As more consumers become familiar with purple carrots, this will create a demand for the vegetable. We will begin to see purple carrots in grocery stores as that demand influences growers for the organic produce market and then later the conventional vegetable market.



Are Carrots Genetically Modified to Be Orange?

I was watching a video about purple carrots today, and the narrator said that the early purple and yellow carrots were genetically modified to make them orange. This is simply not true.

The World Health Organization definition of genetic modification says that it happens when “the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.” The first genetically modified organisms were produced in the early 1970’s. The first genetically modified food to receive approval for sale was the Flavr Savr tomato, in the United States during the 1990s.

Orange carrots were first seen around the 16th or 17th centuries, when most Europeans were eating white, yellow, or purple carrots. Some combination of domestication and natural selection led to an orange carrot, probably as an improvement on the yellow carrot. This new carrot became popular in Holland because of its colour. Dutch farmers grew it in honour of William of Orange, and are responsible for stabilizing the cultivar over the next century or so.

Now the orange carrot is the one much of the world thinks of whenever we say, “carrot.” As this happened centuries before the advent of genetic modification, it’s impossible that the first orange carrots were genetically modified.

Do Purple Carrots Taste Different?

In the video above, personal chef Pat Mulvey says she can taste a subtle difference between carrots of different colours. According to her, the darker carrots have more flavour, while the lighter coloured carrots have a more subtle taste. I’m not sure most of us would be able to notice the difference.

I have grown purple carrots alongside red carrots, orange carrots, and even yellow and white ones. I didn’t find any significant difference in the taste of the carrots, whether we ate them raw or cooked. Purple carrots taste pretty much the same as the orange ones you’ve been eating all your life. Though of course, if you’re buying them from your local farmers market carrots of any colour will taste more fresh than grocery store carrots!

Are Carrots the Only Purple Root Vegetable?

Purple carrots are not the only root vegetables that grow in that particular hue. There are a number of other purple root vegetables, including purple sweet potatoes and a few purple varieties of the usually white potato. There are also purple radishes and purple kohlrabi. And a type of purple yam popular in the Philippines, ube, currently has a huge presence on Instagram.

Growing Purple Carrots in Your Garden

There are several different varieties of purple carrots that you can grow in your garden. A number of other carrot cultivars also exist in hues of white, yellow, red, orange, and even purple so dark it looks black.

Many of the newer coloured carrot varieties have fun names, often inspired by an outer space theme. We have experimented with a mix of carrots that includes ‘Lunar White,’ ‘Solar Yellow,’ ‘Cosmic Purple,’ and ‘Atomic Red’ varieties. These mixes are often sold as “Kaleidoscope Carrots” or “Rainbow Carrots.”

Some purple carrots are purple all the way through. Others are purple carrots, orange inside. There are even purple carrots that are white or pale purple inside. If you have a preference for one or the other of these types, check before you choose your purple carrot seeds. Most seed catalogues will show an image of the cut carrot, or will mention if the core of the carrot is orange or white instead of purple.



Pure Purple Carrots

  • Black Nebula’ Carrot: Grows very dark purple carrots that look almost tie-dyed when cut. This variety has very high levels of anthocyanins, and retains its colour when cooked. If you juice this carrot and then add a little lemon, the juice will turn bright pink. This rare Imperator type carrot is sometimes used to make purple dye. The purple carrots grow quite long, but one listing suggests they are best picked when only 10 cm (4”) long. The leaves and flowers of these purple carrots are tinged with purple. How cool is that? Days to maturity: 75-80.

  • Deep Purple’ Carrot: This is one of the only pure purple carrots available. The colour is very dark, almost black, and doesn’t generally fade with cooking. This Imperator type carrot grows to a length of about 17-20cm (7-8”) but some catalogue listings say they can grow to almost twice that length. This is a hybrid variety. Days to maturity: 75-80.

  • Gniff’ Carrot: These short purple carrots are extremely slow to grow. They are a very rare landrace from Switzerland with an amethyst purple exterior and a white to violet core. The carrots are very striking when cut lengthwise. They only grow to about 10 cm (4”) long, and are traditionally used for pickling in vinegar and olive oil. Days to maturity: 130–140.

Purple Carrots with Orange Inside

  • Cosmic Purple’ Carrot: This is a Danvers type carrot, meaning it’s a tapered carrot about 15-20 cm (6-7”) long. Fiber in carrots of the Danvers type is apparently high, and the carrots are good for longer storage. Cosmic Purple carrots were developed by Dr. Philipp Simon and the USDA Agricultural Research Service team in Madison, Wisconsin. The carrots have an orange core. Their purple colour doesn’t fade when cooked. Days to maturity: 60.

  • Purple Dragon’ Carrot: This is another Danvers carrot. Purple dragon carrots are purple on the outside, with a core that is yellow to orange in colour. Their taste is supposed to be slightly spicy. These purple carrots are open pollinated. Days to maturity: 70-75.

  • Purple Haze’ Carrot: This hybrid carrot was an All-American Selection winner in 2006. It grows purple carrots, orange inside. These Imperator type carrots are 25-30cm (10-12″) long, tapering to a point. The colours are brilliant when the carrots are raw, but the purple fades when cooked. Days to maturity: 70.

  • Other purple carrots include ‘Beta-Sweet,’ ‘Black Spanish,’ ‘Purple 68, ‘Purple Dutch,’ and ‘Purple Elite’.




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Purple carrots: is that colour natural, or are they a genetically modified food? | #24CarrotDiet | anthocyanin | purple foods | food history | growing purple carrots | non-GMO
Purple carrots are loaded with carotene and anthocyanin
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Original content © 2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

Best Vegetable Recipes Ever: Sweet, Tangy Root Vegetable Mash Will Kick Plain Potatoes Off Your Plate!

Root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and beets are popular foods for fall and winter because they store well. Along with winter squash, they are vegetable crops that generally take a longer time to reach maturity. We harvest them at the end of the growing season. By that time, the plant has had lots of time to store sugars in the roots. Around the same time the weather starts to turn cold, our bodies begin to crave squash soup and stews thick with root vegetables.

Besides being well suited for long storage, root vegetables also provide fibre, starch, and low-glycemic complex carbohydrates. When we eat them, we tend to feel full and to stay full longer. This is important during the cold weather when we might otherwise sit around nibbling on less healthy foods. That feeling of satiety can mean that we will eat less during meal times. It may also help prevent between meal snacking. Eating root vegetables regularly throughout the winter is just one strategy for maintaining a healthy diet and preventing holiday weight gain.

Humble Root Vegetables for Special Occasions

While root vegetables may seem very earthy and humble, they can become the stars of a meal if you know how to cook them. Sweet potatoes and carrots contain a ton of vitamin A. Their bright orange colour reminds us how nutritious they are. Plain old boiled potatoes scored the highest of 38 foods on the satiety index. Compared to other foods, you need to eat less of them to feel full. One study even showed that if you eat boiled potatoes with a pork steak, you’ll eat less during your meal. The boiled potatoes also produced less of an insulin spike than rice or pasta. And potatoes may even affect how your body responds to the “hunger hormone,” ghrelin.

The rutabaga, also called yellow turnip or swede, is a new vegetable for a lot of people. I was actually surprised by this when I first wrote about turnips. It seems many of my readers and social media connections have never eaten either a turnip or a rutabaga. I heard from, a lot of people who said they’d been nervous about trying these root vegetables. Many decided they wanted to try them after reading about the different ways you can cook turnips. You probably didn’t know that the turnip is related to cabbage and other brassicas. If you eat the turnip greens, you can taste the similarity to leafy green vegetables like kale or collards. But that connection isn’t as obvious if you’re just eating the root.

Rotmos, Mashed Root Vegetables

I first had root mash when I worked at a chronic care hospital, where the cafeteria served it regularly. Their version of the traditional Swedish dish was very simple: basically just carrots and rutabaga boiled together and mashed. I loved the tangy taste of the rutabaga with the sweet carrots. When I started making root mash at home, I cooked it very simply. And because I liked the smooth look of the mash when it was pureed for patients who had difficulty chewing, I often pureed my own root mash to make it smoother.

A traditional rotmos is a bit more involved than just boiling carrots and rutabaga together, though. In Sweden, there is a dish called fläsklägg med rotmos, or ham hock with root mash. To prepare this dish, you cook onions and carrots in a pot with a cured ham hock. When the meat comes away from the bone, you remove it from the pot and add more root vegetables. Cook the vegetables in the ham broth until tender, then mash them. Most recipes include rutabaga and potatoes. But you’ll also see some recipes that call for parsnips or the root of Hamburg parsley.

I’ve chosen to create a recipe that includes the ham hocks, since this recalls a Québécois Christmas dish that I love. Since it’s rare to find Hamburg parsley in North America, my recipes calls for parsnips. But if you can’t find parsnips at your grocery store or farmer’s market, just use a little extra rutabaga.



Mashed Root Vegetables, The Recipe

2-1/2 lb cured ham hocks
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1/2 carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks
5 whole allspice berries
a few peppercorns

4-1/2 carrots
2-3 parsnips
1 medium rutabaga or 2-3 medium turnips

6 potatoes

1-2 tbsp butter (vegan butter or margarine, for vegan-friendly option)
a little ground nutmeg or allspice
a handful of chopped Italian parsley (optional)


  1. In a heavy pot with about 3 cups water, cook the ham hocks with the onion, half carrot, allspice, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, covered; reduce heat and simmer about 2 hours or until the meat comes away from the bones.

  2. When the meat is almost cooked, peel and dice the root vegetables. Keep the peels and end bits of the vegetables for your soup bag.

  3. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside. Strain out the whole spices and any really big pieces of onion that remain. Add the carrots, parsnips, and rutabaga to the pot. Cover and return to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes.

  4. Add potatoes and cook about 15 minutes more, or until the vegetables are soft. Remove from heat and drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

  5. Mash the vegetables, adding the butter and just enough of the cooking liquid to make the root mash smooth. The traditional way to serve rotmos is with a little bit of the chunks still in it. But I like to mash very well, or even to puree the root vegetables. You can do this with an immersion blender to speed things up a bit. Taste before adding salt and pepper, as the ham hocks are salty and you’ll have cooked the vegetables along with the peppercorns.

  6. Serve the mashed root vegetables alongside a portion of meat stripped from the ham hocks. Spoon a little of the cooking liquid over the meat, or use it to make gravy. Add a leafy green vegetable such as garden peas, kale or turnip greens to the plate for colour

Serves 6-8 people


  1. If you can’t find cured ham hocks (pig’s knuckles) you can substitute a bone-in ham.

  2. To make just the mashed root vegetables, omit the ham hocks and cook in 3 cups of vegetable stock. Since there’s no meat to cook, put all the vegetables except the potatoes in the stock and cook for 30 minutes only. Add the potatoes and cook another 15 minutes.

  3. If you have a garden, consider growing Hamburg parsley for this dish. Like many other root vegetables, it’s dual purpose. You can eat the parsley greens throughout the summer while the roots are maturing. In the fall, harvest the roots. They taste like parsnips, but with a hint of parsley. Use the roots instead of the parsnips in this recipe; substitute the greens for the Italian parsley.

  4. Feel free to experiment with other root vegetables. I have seen recipes that include celeriac root and even sweet potatoes. You might also try adding peeled kohlrabi roots to the mash. The leaves of the kohlrabi make a lovely cooked green.


Helpful Hints:

  1. When you cook rotmos and ham hocks, save the bones for making pea soup. Or add them to your soup bag and use them to make a meaty stock.
  2. Save any leftover cooking liquid in labelled jars for later use, or freeze in ice cube trays for smaller portions.
  3. If you have small amounts of leftover root vegetables, you can use them to make a small batch of creamy root vegetable soup.


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Root vegetable mash with ham hocks | #24CarrotDiet | Mashed carrots, rutabaga, and other root vegetables served with cured pork and cooked greens | Vegan option
Mashed root vegetables are a tangy alternative to plain mashed potatoes
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Original content © 2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
Rotmos photo by Craig Dugas/Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

Warming Winter Food: Try This Creamy, Healthy Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe

Have you ever made cream of broccoli soup at home? I’ll bet you either started with frozen broccoli or made it in a crockpot – or both! Did you know that both these methods reduce the amount of sulforaphane in your soup?

Sulphora-what? I know, it doesn’t sound like something you’d want to actually eat! But it is, trust me on that. Sulforaphane is a super powerful antioxidant that is found in broccoli and other vegetables in the cabbage family. It has numerous health benefits, not the least of which is its ability to fight cancer.

Broccoli is one of the dark green vegetables that is usually available fresh or frozen throughout the winter months – 24 Carrot Diet
Broccoli is one of the dark green vegetables available year-round, even in rural Canada! Creamy broccoli soup is a great comfort food for a cold winter day.
(Image: congerdesign/Pixabay/CC0 1.0)


This broccoli soup from Ramya Recipes blanches the broccoli instead of cooking all the nutrients out of it. It’s a few extra steps instead of just dumping all the ingredients into your slow cooker. But you’ll get a lovely soup with tender pieces of healthy broccoli, instead of a pot of nutrient-deprived mush!

Learn more about the nutrients in broccoli, and how to preserve them when you cook, check out our post on broccoli nutrition.

Why are broccoli, Asian vegetables, and other members of the cabbage family so important during the winter months? Check out our post on why you should eat dark green and orange vegetables every day. It includes a great list of all the carotenoid-rich veggies that provide vitamin A in your diet.

The preview of the original post and recipe follows. As always with reblogged content, please click through to view the full post and leave your comments there.

Healthy Living Tip: Are You Eating Enough Dark Green and Orange Vegetables?

A Healthy Diet Program for the 21st Century

Are you eating dark green vegetables every day? Most of us are striving to make healthy eating choices for ourselves and our families. We know we should try to give our kids a well-balanced diet. And we also know that most of us aren’t getting enough fresh vegetables and fruit. But how do we really put all that nutrition advice into practice?

If you grew up eating cold cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and meat and potatoes for supper, that’s probably still the way you tend to eat. And a diet like that doesn’t leave a lot of room for adding vegetables or fruit. Maybe one veg with supper and if you’re being super good, a salad at lunchtime and a piece of fresh fruit as a snack. But that’s far from the recommended 5-10 a day!

Learning to Eat a Different Way

In many ways, we’re all new to nutrition and healthy eating. Not because we all grew up eating junk food. But because the focus when we were kids was on getting our protein and drinking our milk. The vegetables and grains just went along for the ride. So now we’re having to learn a whole new way of eating healthy, where the vegetables are supposed to be the main event.

That means we have to change the way that dinner plate looks, we have to learn new recipes that place the emphasis on vegetables and whole grains. We even have to come up with all new ideas when it comes healthy snacks for kids’ lunchboxes and for after school. If that seems just a little overwhelming to you, join the club! One way to make the shift to a healthy diet program is to make the changes gradually, one thing at a time. Adding new foods to our diet is an important way to make healthy eating choices. And one of the first changes you can make is to try to get in more dark green vegetables, and orange vegetables and fruits.

Vitamin A & Nutrition

Canada’s Food Guide recommends that we eat one serving of dark green vegetables and one serving of orange vegetables or fruits each day. These foods are rich in vitamin A, on of the vitamins that many North Americans don’t consume enough of.

Depending on the age group, between 40% and 50% of Canadians are not meeting their daily need for vitamin A. Among Americans, more than half of teens and adults are not getting enough vitamin A. On the other hand, 13% of American children under age 9 are consuming too much vitamin A. Both of these conditions are reason for concern.

Different Types of Vitamin A

The vitamin A in our food comes in two types: preformed vitamin A and pro-vitamin A. The preformed vitamin A comes from animal sources, especially fish oils and liver. It is also present in milk and eggs. Vitamin A is added to some fortified foods such as granola or energy bars and breakfast cereals. Check the vitamin A content on the nutritional label of packaged foods. You can also look out for items such as retinyl palmitate or retinyl acetate in the ingredient list.

Vitamin A supplements are not recommended for most of us. A diet high in dairy products and fortified foods, such as we can see in younger children, can also be a problem. The safest way to get enough vitamin A to meet the needs of our bodies for growth, reproduction, and a healthy immune system is to eat plant-based foods rich in pro-vitamin A. That means dark green vegetables, and orange vegetables and fruits.

Vitamins in Dark Green Vegetables

We talked about orange and dark green vegetables supplying vitamin A. But these vegetables also provide a significant amount of other nutrients that are beneficial to our health. The main thing that dark green vegetables have in common is good vitamin A and K content, and a rich source of folate (a kind of B vitamin.) Many green vegetables are also rich in vitamin C, and minerals like calcium and iron. Leafy greens are also an important source of fibre.

  • Vitamin A: A powerful antioxidant that reduces the damage caused by free radicals in our bodies. Plays a role in skin, eye, and bone health, as well as in reproduction. Carotenoids, many of which are forms of pro-vitamin A, are anti-inflammatory and may help prevent heart disease and some cancers.

  • Vitamin C: I’ll bet you thought the only significant source of this vitamin was oranges! Vitamin C is also an anti-oxidant and plays a role in our immune function. It may help prevent cancer, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and cardiac disease. Vitamin C helps our bodies to absorb iron. It also plays a role in the healing of wounds. Among American adults, 43% don’t consume enough of this vitamin.

  • Vitamin K: This lesser known vitamin is involved in blood clotting and wound healing, as well as in building strong bones. A good vitamin K intake may help prevent osteoporosis and heart disease.

  • Folate: Folate is the naturally occurring form of folic acid, which I’m sure you already know is important during pregnancy. The word folate is derived from the Latin word folium, meaning a leaf. As expected, leafy greens are one of the best possible sources for folates in our diet. Folic acid in fortified foods and supplements can actually cause an overdose. It’s also not processed as efficiently by our bodies, in part because it isn’t adequately balanced by other nutrients that would be present when it occurs naturally.

    Folate is vitamin B9, and is responsible for making red blood cells. During pregnancy, an adequate intake of folates can help prevent certain birth defects. It is also necessary because of the increased blood volume that takes place during pregnancy, and to prevent anemia. Folate may help to treat or prevent certain types of cancer, heart disease and stroke, dementia, and depression.

    If you are a woman of childbearing age, it’s particularly important to eat enough naturally occurring folates as possible because the folate available in your body around the time of conception matters most. If you wait to supplement or improve your diet until after you know you’re pregnant, your baby isn’t going to get the folates until several weeks into your pregnancy. Ironically, this is one of the reasons that some foods are enriched with folic acid. Do follow advice from your doctor or midwife about supplementation and diet, but keep in mind that plant-based foods like leafy greens are the best naturally occurring sources of folates.

  • Calcium: You probably already know that calcium is necessary for strong bones and teeth, but did you know it also helps your muscles work? Calcium helps to regulate our hormones, body temperature, pH, and blood pressure. The mineral may help prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, hypertension, certain cancers, and pre‑eclampsia. It may also play a role in preventing unhealthy weight gain. Of all the minerals in our bodies, calcium is the most abundant. It is also fairly common to be calcium deficient. In America, 49% of adults are not getting enough calcium. In girls aged 14-18, that number reaches the alarmingly high level of 81%.

  • Iron: You probably remember hearing that spinach contains lots of iron, and that eating your greens would make you strong like Popeye. Spinach actually does contain a significant amount of iron, as do other leafy greens. In fact, 100 g of spinach contains more iron than the same weight of steak. Iron is responsible for making red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout our bodies. It is important for preventing anemia in pregnant and menstruating women, as well as individuals who suffer from certain chronic illnesses. Vegetarians and low-income families who may not be able to afford meat should be sure to include dark green leafy vegetables in their diet.

  • Fibre: We all know that dietary fibre helps keep us regular. But it also helps us to feel full after a meal, which can help with appetite and weight control. Fibre can help to regulate both cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and it contributes to healthy intestinal flora. An adequate fibre intake may help prevent colon cancer. Did you know that 97% of Americans are deficient in fibre? And we Canadians are no better: according to Dietitians of Canada, most Canadians only get about half the fibre we need each day. Only plant-based foods contain fibre: meat and other foods from animal sources do not contribute to our fibre intake. This is why it’s so important to eat your veggies!

Kale is loaded with vitamins A & C
Kale supplies very large amounts of vitamins A & C
(Image: Unsplash/Pixabay/CC0 1.0)


Leafy Greens

Many of us think of greens as just lettuce, spinach, collards, kale, and a few other vegetables that were either made into salads or cooked until they turned grey. But there is a whole world of other leafy, dark green vegetables out there, including some potherbs like parsley and cilantro that can provide many of the same nutrients as dark green vegetables if eaten in sufficient amounts. Don’t just eat the same greens every day: there are plenty of options so you can mix things up. If you haven’t really explored all the different leafy greens that are available to fulfill your vitamin A requirement, check out this list.

  • Arugula (rocket or roquette)

  • Asian greens (includes tatsoi, celtuce, Chinese broccoli, leaf celery, chrysanthemum greens, Chinese spinach, Malabar spinach, mizuna, and others)

  • Beet greens

  • Broccoli rabe (rapini)

  • Chicory (curled endive)

  • Collards

  • Dandelion greens

  • Escarole

  • Kale

  • Kohlrabi greens

  • Lettuce (Romaine, butterhead, red and green leaf lettuce but NOT iceberg lettuce)

  • Mesclun

  • Mustard greens

  • Pea shoots

  • Spinach

  • Swiss chard

  • Turnip greens

  • Watercress

How much to eat? The leafy green vegetable portion size is 1 cup if the greens are eaten raw and 1/2 cup if served cooked. This is because they shrink down a lot during cooking. Don’t be afraid to add a little oil or butter to your greens. Vitamins A and K are both fat-soluble. Our bodies can use the vitamins better if we eat them with just a tiny touch of fat.

One serving of asparagus is 6 spears, or 1/2 cup
One serving of asparagus is 6 spears, or 1/2 cup
(Image: Pexels/CC0 1.0)


Brassicas & Other Dark Green Vegetables

In addition to leafy green vegetables, other dark green vegetables are also high in nutrients. “Cole crops” refer to brassicas, members of the cabbage family that are also sometimes called cruciferous vegetables. Some of the cole crops are mentioned above, as they are green leafy vegetables such as kale or watercress.

You will notice that some of the brassicas have been left off the lists. I tried to follow Canada’s Food Guide for the most part, and respected their convention for placing vegetables like cauliflower and white cabbage outside the dark green vegetables because they are lower than other brassicas in vitamin A content. Where the Food Guide didn’t list a vegetable, I looked up the nutritional content and listed those dark green vegetables that had significant quantities of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and minerals like iron or calcium.

These vegetables count towards your daily intake of dark green vegetables:

  • Asparagus

  • Beans (green snap or yardlong beans but NOT yellow snap beans, Lima or fava beans, etc.)

  • Belgian endive

  • Bok choy (sometimes called Chinese cabbage or pak choi)

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Cabbage (red and savoy type but not white cabbage)

  • Edamame (soy beans)

  • Fennel

  • Fiddleheads

  • Green Pepper (according to Canada’s Food Guide – but according to the USDA they are fairly low in vitamins A & K; red peppers may be a richer source of vitamin A)

  • Leek

  • Okra

  • Peas (shelled garden peas or peas with edible pods)

  • Seaweed

  • Zucchini (with skin on – baby zucchini has more vitamin A than full-sized)

A single carrot supplies more than twice your daily vitamin A - and carrot tops count as a dark green vegetable too!
One medium carrot supplies 203% of your vitamin A for one day
(Image: KRiemer/Pixabay/CC0 1.0)


Carotenoids & Orange Foods

Carotenoids are orange, yellow, and red pigments that occur naturally in plants. They are responsible for the colour of many fruits and vegetables, and are one of the chief reasons we should eat orange fruits and vegetables daily. The pro-vitamin A carotenoids are converted into vitamin A by our bodies.

Carotenoids include beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin, all of which are pro-vitamin A carotenoids. Other carotenoids you may have heard about are lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene. These carotenoids are not converted into vitamin A in the body, therefore their content is not a main consideration when deciding whether to include a fruit of vegetable on our list of dark green and orange foods to eat daily. (They are still very healthy and necessary in our diets. They just don’t boost our vitamin A intake.)

Check below for some orange vegetables and fruits that are good sources of carotenoids that will convert to vitamin A when you eat them.

Orange Vegetables & Fruits

  • Apricot

  • Cantaloupe

  • Carrot

  • Mango

  • Nectarine

  • Papaya

  • Peach

  • Pumpkin

  • Squash (Orange-fleshed winter varieties such as acorn, Hubbard, and most especially butternut but NOT spaghetti squash or most summer squash)

  • Sweet potato (sometimes called yam)

OK, that’s an awful lot of information to digest. So let’s do a quick roundup to make it less overwhelming:

  1. You should be eating one serving of dark green vegetables and one serving of orange vegetables or fruit each day;

  2. Adding at least one of the above to your diet each day is a step towards eating a healthier and more balanced diet;

  3. These green and orange foods are important because they supply vitamins C, K and the B vitamin known as folate, but most especially vitamin A;

  4. Green and orange foods listed above also supply dietary fibre and minerals like calcium and iron;

  5. Eating these foods on a regular basis can help prevent nutritional deficiencies that are common in the North American diet.



Did you know about eating a serving of green and orange foods each day? How good are you at following through on that? I’d love to hear about your favourite leafy greens, other dark green veggies, and orange fruits and veg. Let me know how you like to eat them in the comments below!


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Foods rich in vitamin A | Add orange and dark green vegetables to your diet each day to ensure you’re getting enough pro-vitamin A carotenoids. Making one healthy addition to your daily diet is taking one more step towards a well balanced diet. | 24 Carrot Diet
Adding just one dark green or orange vegetable to your diet each day is a step towards eating a healthier diet
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This creamy carrot & cauliflower soup is packed with vitamins A and C (Graphic made in Canva using a public domain image by Pixabay user silviarita)


Original content © 2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

Disclaimer: I am not a nutrition expert or health professional. I am just sharing information I have learned so you can further your own exploration of healthy foods. The information is as complete and accurate as possible at the time of publication, but some sources vary in their recommendations and the science of nutrition is always changing. Nothing presented here should replace the advice of a licensed dietitian, certified herbalist, or medical doctor. You and only you are responsible for obtaining professional diagnostics and advice, and only you can make your own healthy eating choices.

Sweet Potato or Yam: Why Does This Healthy Vegetable Have So Many People Confused?

Sweet potatoes have been part of the typical Thanksgiving menu for a century or more, although neither they nor regular everyday potatoes were present at the first Thanksgiving feasts on either side of the border. If you grew up in the United States, you probably remember eating candied yams or sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows alongside your turkey and cranberries.

If you grew up in the American south, you may have also eaten sweet potato pie at Thanksgiving for dessert – instead of pumpkin pie. (And that rivalry between sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie is the stuff of a whole ‘nother conversation!)

Here in Canada, these dishes are not nearly as common as they are in the United States but sweet potatoes are still one of our Thanksgiving sides – usually just baked and served with a pat of butter. We also eat sweet potatoes with our Christmas dinner, and pretty much any other time we cook a turkey with all the trimmings. In fact for many Canadians, these are probably the only times in the year that we eat a sweet potato, more’s the shame!

But is it a Sweet Potato or a Yam?

The question of whether we’re actually eating a sweet potato or a yam is a confusing one. Let me share a personal experience with you to illustrate what I mean. Thanksgiving is celebrated in early October here in Canada, so we had our big turkey dinner a little over a month ago. And as every year, there was a bowl on the table filled with small, foil-wrapped nuggets still steaming from the oven.

“Do you want sweet potatoes?” my mother asked as she held the bowl out towards me. “Well, they’re really yams.” she added. “I made sure to get yams instead of sweet potatoes.” She then went on to explain that the yams were smaller, sweeter, and softer when cooked than sweet potatoes are. And they have a darker-coloured flesh.

Well, this was news to me!



Why was Mom Calling Sweet Potatoes, ‘Yams’?

In all my 50 years on the planet, we’ve never called those lovely, orange-fleshed tubers “yams” in our family. And I generally see this vegetable sold as “sweet potato” in the stores. Most of my friends call them sweet potatoes too, so I had always kind of assumed that “sweet potato” was more of a Canadian expression, while our American neighbours seem to prefer “yam.” (There is, of course, a completely unrelated African tuber properly called a yam, that has been available in North American grocery stores for several years now. If you’ve ever had those yams, you know they are very different from a sweet potato, whatever we choose to call it in Canada and the US.)

So why was Mom suddenly calling our sweet potatoes “yams”? And why was she talking about there being some sort of difference in the size, colour, and firmness of the flesh?

Sweet potato (not a yam)
Note the smooth skin and tapered end of the sweet potato
(Image: LauraLisLT/Pixabay/CC0 1.0)


What is a Sweet Potato?

The scientific name for the sweet potato is Ipomoea batatas. If you’re familiar with botanical names for popular flowers, you might recognize that sweet potatoes are related to morning glories. In fact, the resemblance between the flowers of the two plants is remarkable. Could you tell one from the other if you saw these two plants growing side by side?

The flower of a sweet potato plant
The sweet potato is one vegetable you might want to grow just for the flowers!
(Image: Deborah Hayes/Public Domain Pictures/CC0 1.0)


A morning glory flower looks very similar to the sweet potato flower
This second flower is a morning glory. Could you tell them apart?
(Image: ccipeggy/Pixabay/CC0 1.0)


Sweet potatoes are a New World vegetable. They were first domesticated about 5,000 years ago, probably in Central America. But today they are grown throughout much of the Americas. They are also cultivated in some parts of Africa, in India, China, and other Asian nations, and also in Polynesia and Australasia.

Although the common name implies that these are potatoes, the sweet potato is only distantly related to potatoes. The potato belongs to the nightshade family (Solanaceae,) along with tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. The sweet potato belongs to the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae.) Both families are members of the order Solanales. That makes the two root vegetables sort of distant cousins. Sweet potatoes are also not related to yams, which are tubers in the family Dioscoreaceae. The yam is an Old World vegetable native to Africa and Asia, and is more closely related to grasses and lilies than to either potatoes or sweet potatoes.



What Does a Sweet Potato Look Like?

Sweet potatoes have tapered ends and smooth, thin skin. The skin can range in colour from copper or brown to red or even purple. The flesh of a sweet potato is usually orange, varying in saturation from deep orange all the way to yellow or beige. Sweet potatoes can also have white or purple flesh.

A sweet potato showing the deep orange flesh inside – just remember the colour can vary!
Sweet potatoes come in a wide range of colours – including purple!
(Image: National Cancer Institute/Wikimedia Commons/public domain)


By contrast, yams have coarse, scaly skin that is sometimes compared to a tree trunk. They are cylindrical tubers, usually with white flesh. Some North American grocery stores stock African yams, but you’ll probably need to go to an import store or specialty market unless you live in a big city.

The yam is an Old World vegetable and is completely unrelated to sweet potatoes
This yam has a coarse, bark-like skin and a more tubular shape than a sweet potato
(Image: chrisad85/Pixabay/CC0 1.0)


Why Do We Sometimes Call Sweet Potatoes Yams?

There seem to be two main reasons for the use of the word “yam” when we are actually talking about sweet potatoes:

  1. African slaves used this name:
    Yams are one of the staple foods in Africa. West African people saw a resemblance between yams and sweet potatoes, so they used the same word for both vegetables. Some accounts say Europeans introduced sweet potatoes to the people of West Africa, who later came to the New World as slaves. Other stories say the slaves first encountered sweet potatoes once they’d arrived in America. As the slave trade was carried on for some three centuries, it’s likely both are true. In any case, the West African people used sweet potatoes the same way they did yams, and they used the same name for both.

  2. Farmers in Louisiana used this name:
    All sweet potatoes originally had white or pale yellow flesh. So darker-fleshed sweet potatoes were a pretty cool development! Farmers in Louisiana had a sweeter, orange-fleshed variety of the sweet potato in about the 1920s or 1930s. Because you can’t tell what the inside of a vegetable looks like from its skin and you don’t know how sweet it is until you eat it, they needed to find a clever way to set their sweet potato apart from the rest.

    The farmers called their vegetable a “yam,”  sweet potatoes. The Louisiana crops contrasted with the drier, firmer fleshed sweet potatoes that farmers elsewhere in the US were growing. This is why you’ll sometimes see people using “yam” to describe a sweet potato that has soft, moist, richly coloured flesh, and “sweet potato” for those vegetables whose flesh is firm, dry, and often more pale in colour.

Although we all have our preferences when it comes to the type of sweet potatoes we like to eat, you should know that the “yam” type of sweet potato is better suited to some recipes and the more firm, dry-fleshed sweet potato is better for others. Sweet potatoes that are softer are great for baking, mashing, and of course making a sweet potato casserole or baking a sweet potato pie. But those with a firmer flesh will make great sweet potato fries.

Sweet Potato Nutrition

Some folks say that the sweet potato is a superfood. If you look at its nutritional content, it’s not hard to see why. One average sweet potato, baked in its skin, contains 438% of our recommended daily intake for vitamin A – a nutrient that about half of North Americans are lacking in their diet. 

Sweet potato also scores high for several other nutrients: 37% of vitamin C; 27% of potassium; 25% each of vitamin B6 and manganese; 15% each of vitamin B6, potassium, and dietary fibre; 10% of thiamine (vitamin B1.) Sweet potatoes also supply lesser amounts of magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, sodium, several additional B vitamins, and protein. Wow!

Baking Increases Vitamin C in Your Sweet Potato

Baking is a preferred cooking method for sweet potatoes, as it increases the vitamin C content of the vegetable. If you prepare it by a different method, you won’t get as much of the vitamin C but it’s still a nutritious vegetable. One baked sweet potato provides 103 calories (compared with 163 calories for a medium baked potato or 174 calories for 1 cup of potatoes mashed with whole milk.)

If you are eating sweet potatoes for their vitamin A and carotenoid content, choose those with the richer orange colour to their flesh. If you decide to experiment with purple sweet potatoes you’ll benefit from anthocyanins, the same flavonoids found in blueberries. White-, cream-, or yellow-coloured sweet potato flesh contains mostly beta-zea-carotene.

When it’s time to eat that turkey dinner, choose a baked potato and other high-fibre vegetables. Eat these and a healthy portion of turkey before you move onto other foods and drinks. Research shows that eating lean protein and high-fibre vegetables at the beginning of your meal can reduce both blood sugar and insulin levels, compared to consuming foods like bread or fruit juices first.

Healthy living tip: Eat high-fibre veggies & lean protein first – 24 Carrot Diet
Avoid holiday weight gain: Eat lean protein and high-fibre vegetables like sweet potatoes at the beginning of your meal
( Graphic made in Canva using a public domain image by Pixabay user LauraLisLT)


Do you include sweet potatoes in your Thanksgiving dinner sides? Or “yams”? How does your family like to serve them? Please share your traditions in the comments below. And to all my American readers who will be celebrating with family this week, Happy Thanksgiving!


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Sweet potato or yam: do you know the difference? Whether you call them yams or sweet potatoes, the vegetables in your Thanksgiving sides are probably New World sweet potatoes and not Old World yams. | food history | sweet potato nutrition | 24 Carrot Diet
Sweet potatoes come in a wide range of colours, from cream or yellow through deep orange. There are even purple sweet potatoes!
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(Graphic made in Canva using a public domain image from Maxpixel)


Original content © 2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

Easy Crockpot Squash & Ginger Soup Recipe – Turning Squash Soup on Its Ear

Squash soup is a popular food for the fall but this soup recipe turns the usual squash or pumpkin soup on its ear. Instead of using a pumpkin or a winter squash like acorn or butternut squash, we used our last summer squash to make a milder tasting soup. Carrots and apples add to the sweetness of the soup. Kohlrabi adds a mild pungency that really comes out because the pattypan has a fairly neutral taste. Ginger is added for a little extra heat and to round out the flavour.

This crockpot soup recipe is a snap to make. Just set it and forget it until the end of the day! It is naturally gluten-free and loaded with low-carb, low-calorie vegetables. You can make it dairy-free if you use coconut milk or another dairy-free milk alternative. It’s also very simple to opt for a vegetarian or vegan soup, and this recipe contains ingredients that are consistent with a Paleo diet.

Read more about the choice of ingredients in this yummy squash soup, or skip right down to the recipe now.


Most squash soup recipes use either an acorn or butternut squash, and that’s what I would normally use as well. But we happened to discover a forgotten pattypan squash when we were assembling the ingredients to make our soup, so I decided to save my lovely little honeynut squash for another recipe.

Because this soup recipe also includes kohlrabi, which has a mild taste somewhat similar to a turnip, I would recommend against using pumpkin or any of the dark orange winter squash varieties in this soup. If pattypan squash isn’t available to you right now, you could substitute a spaghetti squash or maybe some yellow crookneck squash or zucchini. If using green-skinned zucchini, peel them. (Frugal hint: Save the peels for your soup bag or cut them into julienne strips and freeze. You can include them in your next spaghetti sauce!)


The apples in this squash soup recipe are a nod to Ali of Gimme Some Oven, who includes apples in both her Chai Butternut Squash Soup and her Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup. We used Golden Delicious apples, which are soft and sweet. They have a thin skin that will blend up easily when you puree the soup, so there’s no need to peel them.

Gala, Honeycrisp, and McIntosh apples would all work well in this soup, as would any apple that has soft flesh that cooks down well. If you’re on a Keto diet, you can use half of a Granny Smith apple instead of the two Golden Delicious apples. (If you want, add an extra carrot to the recipe to balance it out.) With many varieties of apple, the healthy phenol content is higher in the skin, so try to choose thin-skinned varieties for this soup recipe and don’t peel them.

Apples sweeten the soup, helping to balance the pungency of the kohlrabi. Apples and ginger are a classic flavour combination, so you know they are going to marry well in this soup. The apples boost the fibre and vitamin C content of this soup recipe. They also add modest amounts of vitamins B6 and A, potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium.



Apples contain both insoluble fibre and soluble fibre, particularly in the form of pectin. While the insoluble fibre keeps you regular, the soluble fibre can lower (bad) LDL cholesterol and help prevent atherosclerosis and heart disease. Apples also contain the antioxidant quercetin, which is linked to lower risk of stroke.

Antioxidants in apples may help you to breathe better and can moderate caloric intake, which in turn contributes to weight loss. Regular consumption of apples may help prevent certain types of cancer. If you don’t seem to find the time to snack on a raw apple regularly, adding apples to your recipes is a good way to get them into your diet.


Kohlrabi is a vegetable from the brassica, or cabbage, family. It sometimes goes by the names “German turnip” or “turnip cabbage,” both of which hint at its turnip-like flavour. You can find both green and purple varieties of kohlrabi. You can use either type in this soup. If your kohlrabi comes with the leaves still attached, remove them as soon as you bring them home and store them as you would other leafy greens.


Kohlrabi is a low-calorie vegetable, and one you should know if you are concerned about getting enough vitamin C. You can get 103% of your daily vitamin C requirement in 100 g of kohlrabi. This vegetable also supplies dietary fibre, potassium, and vitamin B6, along with smaller quantities of other B vitamins and vitamin E, magnesium and manganese, phosphorus, iron, calcium, and protein. There are only 27 calories in 100 g of kohlrabi. It has no appreciable fat, cholesterol, or sodium. Kohlrabi is also low-carb. Kohlrabi also contains sulforaphane, the powerful cancer-fighting antioxidant that is also found in broccoli.


(Graphic made in Canva using a public domain image from Maxpixel)



The carrots in this recipe help to give it its orange colour. They also add to content of vitamins B6, B7, C and K, potassium, and fibre in the recipe. And of course, carrots are loaded with vitamin A and its precursors. One cup of chopped carrots contains a whopping 427% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin A.

Besides beta-carotene, carrots also supply several additional carotenoids: alpha- and gamma-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. One large carrot contains only 30 calories, which makes it a low-calorie addition to this soup recipe. Choose orange carrots for this soup if you want to benefit from the high levels of carotenoids. You could use some white or yellow carrots if you happen to have grown them or purchased some at the farmer’s market. But I would avoid using red or purple carrots in this soup, because they would alter the colour – probably not in a terribly attractive way!


You may not be aware of ginger’s nutritional benefits, even if you are familiar with its medicinal uses. In 100 g of ginger, you’d find significant amounts of potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6, along with dietary fibre and lesser amounts of vitamin C, calcium, and iron. But because the amount of ginger used in this recipe is a good bit less than 100 g, ginger’s contributions to the soup’s vitamin and mineral content are smaller.

If you are using ginger for its health benefits, this soup is one way to get more ginger into your diet. Ginger contains volatile compounds and phenols such as gingerol. Traditional medicine has used ginger to relieve nausea and pain, as well as to improve digestion. Contemporary research into the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger shows that it can be effective in reducing inflammation and relieving pain associated with arthritis, menstrual cramps, and gastrointestinal complaints. There is some evidence to suggest the antioxidants in ginger could help prevent certain types of cancer. This cancer-fighting power is at least partially responsible for the current interest in daily consumption of moderate amounts of ginger.

Please be aware that, like all herbal medicines, ginger is associated with some side effects and can pose a risk for specific groups of people. If you are going to use ginger on a daily basis or consume moderate to large quantities of ginger at one time, please do you research and know the risks. If you are pregnant or have a chronic health concern, check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting to take ginger medicinally.



Squash Soup with Ginger and Kohlrabi


1-1/2 to 2 cups pattypan squash, seeded and cut into chunks
2 medium Golden Delicious apples, cored and cut into chunks
1 cup kohlrabi, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large carrot, scrubbed and cut into chunks
1 small onion, chopped
2” fresh ginger root, peeled and minced

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth OR 2 cups water plus 2 tsp Better Than Bouillon concentrate

1 cup milk or half-and-half
salt and pepper to taste
ground nutmeg (optional)


This is a super simple crockpot recipe. Just cut up the vegetables and mice the ginger. Place these in the crockpot and add your broth. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours, or until the vegetables are very tender.

Puree the soup in your blender and add the milk. If you want a vegan or dairy-free soup, coconut milk would work great. You could also experiment with other mildly flavoured dairy-free milks. If the soup seems too thick at this point, you can add a little extra water or broth to adjust the consistency.

That’s it! Serve it up! I like to top my squash soup with a little sprinkling of nutmeg, and just a hint of salt and pepper. A handful of chopped fresh parsley, a few toasted pumpkin seeds, or some toasted walnut pieces would also make a wonderful topping. Experiment with the flavours you like. This is a versatile soup.

This squash and ginger soup is creamy and mild, with just a tiny bit of pungency. The kohlrabi is the major flavour that comes through, tasting somewhat like salad turnips. This soup is quite filling, so it makes a great lunch or light supper. Our kids love to eat it fairly thick so they can dunk other foods into it. Their favourite accompaniment is baked chicken fingers but they’ll also dip roasted potatoes, meatballs, and other foods into the soup. If you are a bread lover, try it with lightly toasted fingers of dark pumpernickel. Whatever you serve it with, you really can’t go wrong!


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This easy crockpot squash soup recipe features summer squash, kohlrabi, and ginger for a truly unique flavour. It’s low-carb and gluten-free. It easily transforms into a dairy-free or vegan soup recipe and is both Paleo and Keto friendly. Check it out today on 24 Carrot Diet!
The easy crockpot soup recipe really turns squash soup on its ear!
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Original content © 2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!