Bacon is a perfect breakfast side! No, I’m not talking about the cholesterol-raising, disease-risking regular bacon most Americans consume. I know bacon is delicious, but who’s with me in deciding the taste-bud reward is NOT worth the risk?
I’m talking about the healthy yet delicious CARROT BACON to pair with your morning coffee and a tofu scramble or potato skillet. YUM.
Health Benefits Of This Recipe
For this recipe, we’re going to focus on the health benefits of two all-star vegan ingredients; carrots and tahini. You might know carrots help with eyesight, but they have so many other benefits to our well-being. And tahini? What even is that? It’s a sesame seed butter that really helps boost the flavor profile and nutrient-density of plant-based meals.
I could easily say the health benefits of this recipe is that it’s made out of anything BUT bacon. You have to admit it is a valid point. But the fact that we’re using carrots in place of bacon… Now that is taking it to a whole other level. Here are some of the most notable health benefits of carrots:
Carrots are a particularly good source of beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants.
1. Diets rich in carotenoids may help protect against several types of cancer, including breast cancer, prostate, colon and stomach cancers.
2. While intake of bacon is linked to INCREASED cholesterol, intake of carrots is linked to lower cholesterol.
3. The vitamin A and carotenoids may improve eye health and reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
Surprisingly, a lot of people have never tried tahini butter before. As a society and culture in America, we tend to use the most popular nut butters like peanut, almond, and cashew butter. But if you want to take a walk on the wild side and try this sesame seed butter called tahini, you won’t regret it. I should probably say it does grow on you and that the first bite isn’t what you would have expected. Tahini isn’t as sweet as the other butters but it pairs well with so many meals and/or snacks.
We’re adding tahini to this carrot bacon to give it a chewy texture rather than just crispy. Here are some of the health benefits of tahini:
1. Tahini contains antioxidants called lignans, which help prevent free radical damage in your body and may reduce your risk of disease. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27074618/
2. Sesame seeds may help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. This may be due in part to replacing saturated and trans fats with these monounsaturated fats.
3. Tahini is very anti-inflammatory, helping ease inflammation and pain in the joints and lungs in particular.
Raw vs. Cooked Carrots
There’s a longstanding debate on whether raw carrots are healthier than cooked carrots. So let’s break it down.
Raw Is Better Because:
Cooking, especially prolonged boiling, does reduce the vitamin content of vegetables.
Frying usually reduces the vitamin content as well but since we’re air frying, it allows us to retain most of the vitamin and mineral content.
Your body must work harder to break down raw carrots, making you feel like you ate more and feel more satisfied post-meal.
Cooked Is Better Because:
Cooking and processing help release the carotenoids, which are bound to the cell wall “matrix” of the vegetables.
Cooking foods different ways may improve the taste, meaning you might enjoy your food more and consume more of it. This could be helpful in consuming more vitamins and minerals.
In summary, we should consume BOTH raw and cooked carrots because there are plenty of benefits to both.
Absorb More Vitamins and Minerals by Eating Carrots With Fat (Like Tahini)
Did you know when you consume some healthy fats (mono- or poly-unsaturated fats) with vegetables like carrots shown in this recipe, you absorb more vitamins and minerals?
This is because fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) will absorb better when fat is consumed with them.
Consuming tahini with carrots will help us absorb more of its vitamin A and K content.
However, you do not need to load up on fats in order to reap the benefits of various foods. We consume healthy fats naturally in a plant-based diet due to the fact that most every food has a small amount of fat found in it. Therefore, simply continue focusing on a balanced, plant-based diet.
Carrot Bacon Recipe
What You’ll Need
- Soy Sauce or Tamari
- Olive Oil
- Maple Syrup
- Liquid Smoke
- Garlic Powder
- Ground Black Pepper
Steps To Take
First you’ll peel the carrots from end to end to create “bacon strips”. (This step is much easier with a good peeler so I highly recommend this one from amazon.) Place these carrot strips in a bowl that has a lid available.
Then whisk together the sauce ingredients. This includes everything except the carrots.
Pour the sauce ingredients over the carrots and let marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Once the carrot strips have marinated enough, place them in the air fryer in one single layer at a time (I did two batches so they didn’t overlap).
Fry them at 350 F for just 5 minutes, then let them sit in the air fryer for another 5 minutes to crisp up.
They may have curled up a bit due to the air fryer but I promise, they’re still just as delicious!
- Air Fryer
- Vegetable Peeler
- 2 large carrots
- 3 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tbsp olive oil (optional)
- 1/2 tbsp tahini
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together soy sauce, olive oil, maple syrup, tahini, paprika, garlic powder, pepper and liquid smoke. Set aside.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrot from end to end to create bacon-like strips.
- Add the strips to the bowl with the marinade, and allow to marinate for at least 15 mins.
- Add the carrot strips to the air fryer in one single layer (not overlapping). Set the air fryer to 350 for 5 minutes.
- Once they’re done cooking, allow them to sit in the air fryer for another 5 minutes to crisp up.
To Cook In Oven
- Preheat oven to 400F. Bake carrots on a lined baking sheet for 10-15 minutes flipping halfway through. Check on these every 5 mins incase they start to burn.