The carrot is a root vegetable that is commonly orange, but there are also purple, red, white, and yellow varieties. When it is fresh, it is crisp in texture and shaped like a horn. The domestic type of carrot that many people are familiar with came from species that were once natively wild to Europe and Southeast Asia. This biennial plant grows its leaves during spring and summer, also building a thick, bulbous taproot which stores most of the sugar that the plant needs in order to flower the next year. This taproot is what is consumed by humans and animals.
The main health benefit of the carrot is the Beta-Carotene, which is actually not as potent raw as when it is cooked. Pulping and cooking the carrot not only releases this nutrient but it also releases the sugars, which give this unique root vegetable a sweet and palatable taste. In fact, carrot cake is one of the most popular ways to prepare it. Of course, it is also a common ingredient in salads, soups, stews, and various broths, and is quite familiar to cuisine from all over the world. You will find regional varieties of the vegetable and its greens in cuisine from the Americas and several parts of Asia.
The carrot is also a popular component to many drink recipes, perhaps because its health benefits are more effective in prepared forms. It can be boiled down or pureed with other fruits and vegetables for a healthy smoothie. The juice itself is quite sweet and is tasty on its own, but it has also been combined with other fresh juices for a handful of domestically exotic cocktails. There are roasted carrot vodkas, which is vodka that has been infused with this unique flavor and is used quite well in a carrot cake cocktail!