Colourful cooking

While research shows the average adult is most likely to be found at home in front of the TV, there has been a trend towards more self-sufficiency, with growing numbers getting enjoyment from cooking and growing their own fruit and vegetables. Both these trends were in place before the recession and are about more than money saving, but a move towards more time being spent at home should mean more time available to focus on such activities.
Have a look at the back of your larder and you're quite likely to find a couple of carrots hanging around. So, what will it be - boiled carrots or carrot sticks? If you need ideas for something a bit more interesting, have a look at the recipes below.

While leafy greens are often heralded as superfoods, carrots are no dietary duds! Packed with vitmains and antioxidants, they get their colour from beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. There actually is some truth in the old adage that carrots help us see in the dark - vitamin A is used as visual purple in the retina of the eye.

So, back to recipes! Here are a couple of great, low fat ways to use up those carrots...

Sesame Carrot Salad
- Grate 4 medium to large carrots and set aside. In another bowl, mix together 3 tbs white wine or rice vinegar, 2 tsp vegetable or corn oil and 1 tsp sesame oil. Toss into carrots, along with 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds and a tbs of moist raisins. Stir well together before serving.

Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional information: 90 cals, 5g fat and 1g carbs (1 Unit) per serving.

Carrot and Lime Soup
- Heat a tsp olive oil in a large pan and gently cook a large chopped onion for a minute or so. Add a pound of sliced carrots and 2 crushed cloves of garlic, stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Now stir in 75g uncooked brown rice, 1 or 2 sliced red chillies, to taste and a litre of vegetable or chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes or until carrots are tender. Add the juice of a lime, taste and add a little sugar if necessary. Liquidise in a blender or with a hand blender, reheat and serve with a spoonful of low fat natural yoghurt.

Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional information: 150 cals, 4g fat and 29g carbs (2 Units) per serving.

Carrot Cake
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a 1kg/2lb loaf tin.
Beat together an egg and an egg white, 2 tbs sunflower oil and 50g soft brown sugar until thick and smooth. Sieve in 65g each plain and wholemeal flour, a level tsp cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg and a tsp baking powder, and fold into the creamed mixture. Stir in a grated carrot, 50g raisins and a mashed ripe banana and spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
Mix together a 150g tub quark or very low fat cream cheese, 1-2tbs icing sugar, depending on taste, and the juice of half a lemon. Use this to ice the loaf.

Makes 10 servings.
Nutritional information: 140 cals, 4g fat and 23g carbs (2 Units) per serving.

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