You got to give it to Americans; we really like a reason to celebrate. Believe it or not, February 3rd is National Carrot Cake Day! On this day, we celebrate the moist, spicy, sometimes nutty, and usually-covered-in-cream-cheese-frosting, cake that has been pleasing palates for decades. Food historians believe that carrot cake was first developed during the Middle Ages when sugars were expensive luxuries and people used the natural sugar content of carrots to sweeten desserts (this is according to foodtimeline.org). In celebration of National Carrot Cake Day, I’d like to take a moment to pay special homage to carrot cake’s main ingredient, the carrot!
Besides being sweet and delicious, carrots are super nutritious, and a cornerstone vegetable in HKI’s Homestead Food Production (HFP) program. Carrots are a goldmine of vital nutrients. In fact, no other vegetable or fruit contains as much carotene as carrots, which the body converts to sight- and life-saving vitamin A. In a video about our HFP program, Kathy Spahn, Helen Keller International’s CEO, speaks about how carrots play an essential role in our work:
“Helen Keller International has developed garden programs in schools in the countries where we work, because in most of the countries there are more schools than there are health centers. The gardens in the schools teach children how to garden, a skill that they can use to produce income later in their lives, but they also generate the fruits and vegetables that the school children can eat at school. The carrots have become a motivation for the children to go to school because they get to eat those wonderfully sweet, crunchy orange things.”
When children happily munch away on carrots, they protect their eyes from blindness and shore up their immune systems. Through our Homestead Food Production programs, we also teach mothers best practices for tending their gardens and educate them on the links between the food they grow and nutrition. Participating families eat a healthier diet which protects them from preventable blindness and other common infections and illnesses. Who knew the carrot was good for more than just cake!?
Interested in growing carrots in your home garden? Download this carrot growing tip sheet, courtesy of Texas AgriLife Extension Service.
Cook a carrot today! Check out these carrot cake recipes:
- Carrot Cake with Maple-cream Cheese Frosting from one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen
- Triple-Layer Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, which is highly rated on Epicurious.com
- Best Carrot Cake Ever (with a name like this, it better be good!)
Are you a carrot fan? Leave a comment below and tell us why you love carrots. Is it the color, the taste, the texture, or…?