Carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes are the best sources of beta-carotene. The name beta-carotene comes from the Greek beta and Latin carota (carrot). It is the deep orange-yellow pigment that gives these fall vegetables their beautiful color. The human body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A (retinol), which means it is a precurser of vitamin A. One cup of fresh carrot juice provides an astounding 2, 256 micrograms of beta-carotene! This amount is 2-3 times more than the RDA daily requirement, but don't worry. It is nearly impossible to eat too much beta-carotene because any excess of dietary beta-carotene is simply eliminated from the body (although you need to be careful with over-the-counter supplements because they are often synthetic and metabolized differently, especially if you are a smoker). We've all heard that vitamin A is good for eye health, but did you know it is a powerful antioxidant and can help prevent cancer and lower your risk of heart disease? The downside is that carrots are sweet and 1 cup of carrot juice contains about 2 teaspoons of natural sugar and about 15 carbohydrates. Even so, I love my fresh carrot juice and I wanted to find a way to include it in my diet. This recipe comes to the rescue! I've added a bit of puréed pumpkin, plain kefir, coconut oil and the warm spices that we associate with this season. This juice blend has a lot going for it: probiotics from the kefir or yogurt, coconut oil to slow the absorption of the sugars and assist in the uptake of fat-soluble vitamin A, plus it includes other important vitamins and minerals. A shot or two of this delicious elixir each day is all I need to provide a healthy, healing dose of beta-carotene that my body craves.
Carrot and Pumpkin Spice Beta-Carotene Shots
Makes 12 servings (of 2 TB each)
1 cup fresh carrot juice (if purchased, look for unpasteurized juice for the healthiest option)
2 tablespoons puréed pumpkin
1/4 cup plain, unsweetened kefir or yogurt (substitute non-dairy, if desired)
1 teaspoon orange zest (or 2 drops of dietary-grade orange or tangerine essential oil)
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
10 drops of liquid stevia (orange flavored is nice), or to taste
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
A tiny pinch of sea salt
Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until well combined. Store in a glass bottle or jar in the refrigerator. Shake before serving. Plan to drink it within a week.
Nutritional Information per 2 TB serving: 19 calories, 1.7 g carbohydrate (0.1 g dietary fiber, 1.4 g sugars), 1.3 g total fat (1.1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1 mg cholesterol, 16 mg sodium, 11.4 mg calcium, 3 mg potassium, 0.4 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 1.6 grams
Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2015