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I am not a big vegetable eater. On my list of vegetables I do eat are carrots. Maybe because they are sweet and can be dipped into any number of dips, or maybe because as far back as I can remember my grandfather and I would eat carrot and raisin salad when we would go out to eat. It is still a must have dish for me to this day.

Along with the great taste of carrots are its nutritional benefits. Carrots contain elements that keep us healthy on many levels. The three most important elements in carrots are beta-carotene, vitamin A, and phytochemicals, which benefit our bodies by:

Boosting immunity (especially among older people).
Reducing photosensitivity (beta-carotene protects the skin from sun damage).
Fighting infection (vitamin A keeps cell membranes healthy, making them stronger against disease-causing microorganisms).
Fighting bronchitis.
Helping fight amenia.
Helping to heal minor wounds and injuries.
Reducing acne.
Improving muscle, flesh, and skin health.
Reducing the risk of heart disease.
Reducing the risk of high blood pressure.

In addition, phytochemicals, found in vegetables, fruits, and nuts, may reduce the risk of strokes, hinder the aging process, balance hormonal metabolism, and have antiviral/antibacterial properties.

And Mom was right-carrots are good for your eyes. Both vitamin A and beta-carotene are known to lower the risk of eye disease, hence the carrot's association with eyesight.  Then there is your gastrointestinal health. Carrots, especially carrot juice, are a sure-fire ticket to better stomach and gastrointestinal health. The ancient Greeks even knew this-they used carrot juice to cure stomach disorders of all kinds. In fact, the word "carrot" is related to the word karoten, the ancient Greek word for carrots.

Carrots are also a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, fiber, and some iron and protein. You don't want to eat more than 3 or 4 carrots per day, though; your body can only store so much of any one thing and if you give it too much vitamin A, your skin may take on an interesting orange tint.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

1 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
3 Tbsps. Sugar
1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
3 Tbsps. Butter
24 Ounces Cream Cheese -- softened & divided
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Flour -- divided
4 Eggs
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
1 Cup Carrots -- finely shredded
1/4 Cup Raisins
1/2 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/4 Tsp. Ground Ginger
1 Tbsp. Orange Juice
1 Cup Powdered Sugar -- sifted

Heat oven to 325 F. Mix crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and butter and press onto bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450 F. Beat 2 1/2 packages cream cheese, sugar, and 1/4 cup flour at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in juice. Add combined remaining flour, carrots, raisins, and spices and mix well. Pour over crust. Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce oven temperature to 250 F and continue baking for 55 minutes. Turn off oven and let cheesecake cool for one hour inside cooling oven. Loosen cake from rim of pan. Let cool completely and then refrigerate.

 Beat remaining 1/2 package cream cheese and juice until well blended. Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing until well blended. Spread over top of cheesecake. Garnish with additional raisins and orange zest or shredded carrot, if desired.

Carrots with Cognac

3 cups baby carrots
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1/4 cup brandy
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Tear a large sheet of aluminum foil. Place carrots on foil and sprinkle with walnut oil, cognac, honey, and cinnamon. Wrap up tightly and roast for 25 to 35 minutes until carrots are tender, yet crisp.

Have you had your carrots today? Here are a few reasons you should eat carrots today:
They taste good. Carrots have a mild, pleasant flavor that is great by themselves or blended with other foods.
Carrots can be eaten cooked or raw. Crunchy or soft, from soups to salad, it's entirely up to your mood or your menu.
Kids (even toddlers) like the mild taste of carrots.
Raw carrots are great to carry in a sack lunch, to your next picnic, or in the car when you are on the go.
Carrots are available and in season all year long.
Carrots are inexpensive all year long.
Carrots are a good source of fiber. Fiber is important of our gastrointestinal tracts and is linked to reducing cholesterol in our bodies.
Carrots are low in calories. One average carrot (about 5 ½ inches long) contains about 20 calories.