Food Spotlight | The Netherlands

Carrot Top - Why is this popular vegetable orange? Dutch roots!

Carrots are one of the most widely used, and enjoyed, vegetables in the world. And for good reason. They can be eaten raw with dips and in salads, or as a snack on their own. They can be served as side dishes, used as foundational elements for soups and stocks, or as the centerpiece of many sweet and savory main courses. It's no surprise that three of the most popular carrot recipes are carrot cake, cream of carrot soup and roasted carrots --- they're delicious! But there's always room for healthy and interesting updates to our favorite classics, especially when we are trying to cut down on refined sugar and animal fats.

Carrots have quite an interesting history; there are entire websites devoted to the orange vegetable.

Research suggests that carrots were first cultivated in what is present day Iran around 5,000 years ago. Those early carrots were purple and yellow, and they were tough and very bitter. Purple carrots made their way to the Mediterranean in the 10th century, and there is evidence that the orange carrot we know today was cultivated in The Netherlands in the 16th century. The debate among carrot historians is why orange carrots were cultivated in the first place. It has been reported that 17th Century Dutch carrot growers did this as a tribute to William of Orange, but others dispute the veracity of this claim. According to the writer Simon Schama, the carrot was used as a political weapon in the 18th Century by the Dutch Patriot movement, who opposed the continued power or the House of Orange. The Patriots declared that orange "was the color of sedition....carrots sold with their roots too conspicuously showing were deemed provocative." Whether or not WIlliam of Orange was in fact the inspiration for the orange carrot, everyone agrees that the Long Orange Dutch carrot is the variety from which the orange carrot we eat today was cultivated.

Carrots arrived in the "New World" with the Jamestown colonists in 1609, but their popularity ebbed and flowed with the times.

The popularity of carrots reached its lowest point in the 19th century when it seems most people thought of them as feed for livestock. The end of WWII saw a surge in carrot appreciation and uses, due, in some part, to a British propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the Germans that British soldiers could see in the dark because they ate a lot of them. According to an article in Smithsonian, "During the 1940 Blitzkrieg, the Luftwaffe often struck under the cover of darkness. In order to make it more difficult for the German planes to hit targets, the British government issued citywide blackouts. The Royal Air Force were able to repel the German fighters in part because of the development of a new, secret radar technology. The on-board Airborne Interception Radar (AI), first used by the RAF in 1939, had the ability to pinpoint enemy bombers before they reached the English Channel. But to keep that under wraps, the Ministry provided another reason for their success: "carrots."

While they might not actually help you see in the dark, the health benefits of carrots are off the charts, with a high fiber content and mega-load of cancer preventing beta-carotene being just the tip of the carrot's impressive nutritional qualities. Check out a full rundown on this Food Rating System Chart from the World's Healthiest Foods.

In the meantime, here's a healthy update to three of our favorite carrot recipes.



SERIOUSLY HEALTHY CARROT MUFFINS - makes 12 large muffins

If you are searching for a healthy alternative to carrot cake, look no further. These muffins have a lot of ingredients, which can seem daunting, but they are worth it the effort. The dates, pineapple, raisins and, of course carrots, provide a lot of sweetness, which allows us to cut way down on refined sugar. The wheat germ, walnuts and pumpkin seeds provide fiber and a host of nutrients, as well as a fabulous texture and flavor, and coconut oil adds wonderful richness. If you are using organic carrots, try leaving the peel on for extra nutrition. The frosting is optional, but it is delicious!

1 cup extra virgin coconut oil, at room temp

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temp (or substitute with a neutral oil like safflower if you want to go dairy free)

½ cup brown sugar

5 Medjool dates, pitted and very finally chopped

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups fresh grated carrots

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup wheat germ

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

8 oz. crushed pineapple with juice

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup golden raisins

¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)

Frosting

1/2 cup softened butter (or Earth Balance vegan butter if dairy free)

8 oz. softened reduced fat cream cheese (or Tofutti vegan cream cheese if dairy free)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup maple syrup

Line a muffin tin with lightly oiled baking cups and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the flours, wheat germ, baking powder and soda and cinnamon and set aside. In a large bowl, or Kitchen Aid mixer, cream together the coconut oil, butter, brown sugar and dates until well combined. Add the vanilla extract and then the eggs, mixing in one at a time, and beat on moderate speed. Fold in the carrots, pineapple followed by the dry ingredients, nuts and raisins, taking care not to over-mix. Fill the baking cups with batter (about 1/3 cup), sprinkle each muffin with some pumpkin seeds if not frosting them, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the muffins are set and a toothpick comes out clean from the center. If frosting, let muffins cool completely on a wire rack before either spreading frosting with a spatula or piping it with a pastry bag. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top.

To make the frosting - place the butter and cream cheese in a bowl and beat on a medium speed until blended. Add vanilla and maple syrup and blend until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use.

CLEANSING CARROT SOUP – serves 4

Fragrant cumin and coconut oil give this soup its unique character. Fennel is known throughout the world for its medicinal qualities, especially with regard to digestive health. It has half the daily requirement of Vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant, has a high potassium content, which lowers blood pressure and inflammation, and is high in fiber. It also has a lovely, subtly sweet licorice flavor which pairs beautifully with carrots. The roasted beet here is optional but it really adds nice texture and color as a garnish.

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 bulb fennel, tough outer layer, core and long stem removed and chopped

1 large onion (preferably Vidalia), peeled and chopped

2 lbs. carrots, peeled and chopped (or you may leave the peel on if using organic)

5 cups chicken broth

salt to taste

½ teaspoon fine ground white pepper

two medium beets

a handful of lightly toasted pumpkin seeds*

If you are using the beets, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and dice beets and place on a baking sheet. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Roast for 15 minutes, remove and set aside (you can do this while you are making the soup). In a medium to large pot, melt the coconut oil over medium heat and add the cumin and white pepper. Cook for a moment, until you start to smell the cumin, add the onion and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, taking care not to brown. Add the carrots, stock, and a healthy pinch of salt. Bring to a gentle boil, cover with the lid ajar, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots can be very easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Turn off heat and blend soup with an immersion blender until very smooth. Check seasoning. Ladle into bowls and top with a tablespoon of beets and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds.

ROASTED CARROTS WITH RED ONIONS, FARRO AND GOAT CHEESE – serves 4

1 lb. carrots, scrubbed clean, or peeled if not organic (if your carrots are small and thin, you will need 2 lbs.)

2 cups farro

two large red onions

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

4 oz. semi-soft goat cheese

¼ cup loosely chopped dill

¼ cup lightly toasted sliced almonds*

for the dressing

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

a healthy pinch of kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil into the lemon juice, salt and pepper in a steady stream. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice carrots on the diagonal into ¼ inch rounds. Peel and slice the onion into ¼ inch slices. Toss carrots and onion with olive oil, balsamic, and a healthy sprinkle of kosher salt and arrange on two roasting pans so that vegetables are in a single layer and not overcrowded. Roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring once to make sure onions are not burning, until carrots are tender and balsamic has caramelized. While carrots and onions are in the oven, cook farro according to package's instructions, making sure you salt the water. When done, drain and cool and place on a large platter and toss with the dressing. Remove vegetables from oven and gently toss them into the farro mixture. Crumble the goat cheese over the top followed by the almonds and the dill.

*To toast almonds or pumpkin seeds, place on a backing sheet and bake for 4 minutes in a 350- degree oven.

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It's no secret that the restaurant scene in New York City is one of the most impressive in the world.

Whatever you could want to eat, you can find it in New York—meaning that even if you have a slightly restrictive diet, like veganism, there's plenty of options for you. Local fast-casual chains like By Chloe and Superiority Burger are making New York one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, but the deliciousness doesn't stop there.


Between Manhattan and Brooklyn, there's been a boom of vegan restaurants that'll satisfy any craving. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Blossom(Upper West Side + Greenwich Village)

vegan restaurant

With two locations serving both Uptown and Downtown, Blossom is a go-to for local and tourist vegans alike. They offer an elevated dining experience (and a wide-spanning takeout radius) that puts a cruelty-free spin on classic main dishes like chicken piccata, rigatoni, and grilled salmon. Complete your dinner with a fresh, fruity cocktail and tiramisu—but reservations are strongly recommended beforehand.

Jajaja (West Village + Lower East Side)

vegan Jajaja

Jajaja is the ultimate heaven for Mexican food addicts. Get your fix of south of the border staples like burritos, street tacos, and enchiladas that'll make you second guess whether or not it's actually vegan (pro tip: The nacho portion is large enough to be a meal for one person). They also have a small but mighty menu of tequila and mezcal cocktails to kick off a night of LES bar-hopping. It gets crowded here quickly, though, so try to schedule your dinner early.

Urban Vegan Kitchen(West Village)

Urban Vegan Kitchen

We get it—eating vegan can get kind of bland sometimes. But that's not an issue at Urban Vegan Kitchen, the type of restaurant that'll have you wanting to order one of everything on the menu (but we recommend the "chicken" and waffles). Co-owned by the founder of Blossom, they boast a menu that's just as edgy and exciting as their decor. Their space is large too, making it a crowd-pleasing option for a slightly larger group.

Champs Diner (Williamsburg)

Champs Diner vegan

Located near the border of hip neighborhoods Williamsburg and Bushwick, Champs is a favorite of many young Brooklynites. Their menu is full of vegan alternatives to classic diner fare like breakfast plates, cheeseburgers, and even milkshakes that taste mysteriously like the real deal, while the decor puts a quintessential Brooklyn edge on '50s digs. Who said going plant-based had to be healthy all the time, anyway?

Peacefood (Greenwich Village)

vegan Peacefood

Conveniently located just a stone's throw from Union Square—near both NYU and the New School—Peacefood is a hotspot for college students, but vegans of any age are guaranteed to enjoy their menu. They specialize in comfort food items like quiche, chicken parmesan, and chili with corn bread—all plant-based, of course. While their "chicken" tender basket is to die for, make sure to save room for dessert here, too; Peacefood's lengthy pastry menu is a dream come true.

Buddha Bodai (Chinatown)

Buddha Bodai vegan

Dim sum restaurants in Chinatown are a dime a dozen, but Buddha Bodai takes the cake for the best veggie-friendly experience in one of New York's most bustling neighborhoods. Bring your family or friends along with you to enjoy this massive menu of buns and dumplings stuffed with any type of mock meat you could want. This is also a great option for gluten-free vegans, too, as much of their menu accommodates a gluten-free diet.

Greedi Kitchen (Crown Heights)

Greedi Kitchen vegan

Crown Heights might not be the first neighborhood people think of when it comes to dining in Brooklyn, but Greedi Kitchen is making the case for delicious restaurants in the area. Inspired by its founder's many years of travel, Greedi Kitchen combines the comforting flavors of southern soul food with the added pizazz of global influences. Try one of their po'boys or the crab cake sliders. Trust us.

Screamer’s Pizzeria (Greenpoint + Crown Heights)

Screamer's Pizza vegan

We know what you're thinking: Pizza without real cheese? Call us crazy, but Screamer's does vegan pizza to perfection. If you're into classic pies like a simple margherita or pepperoni, or you want to branch out with unexpected topping combinations, Screamer's is delicious enough to impress carnivores, too (pro tip: the Greenpoint location is small and serves most pies by the slice, while the Crown Heights location is larger for sitting down).


Learning a second language is one of the coolest and most rewarding things you can do in your spare time.

However, if hopping on a one-way ticket to your country of choice isn't an option for you, it can be difficult to find an immersive experience to learn, especially past high school or college.

The next best thing is language-learning apps.

We wanted to look at the top two: DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone. Duolingo is the new kid on the block; one of the top downloaded, this free app is a favorite. Then, there's the legacy option: Rosetta Stone. For over 20 years, they've been developing their language-learning software, and their app is the most recent innovation.

They're both great options, but keep reading to figure out which one is the best for you.

Key Similarities

  • Both claim you'll expand your vocabulary
  • Both are available as an app for iOS and Android users
  • Both have a clean user interface with appealing graphics
  • Both have offline capabilities (if you pay)

Key Differences

  • DuoLingo has a popular free version along with its paid version, whereas Rosetta Stone only has a paid version
  • DuoLingo offers 35+ languages, and Rosetta Stone offers 24 languages
  • Rosetta Stone has an advanced TruAccent feature to detect and correct your accent
  • DuoLingo offers a breadth of similar vocab-recognizing features, and Rosetta Stone offers a wider variety of learning methods, like Stories

DuoLingo Overview

DuoLingo's app and its iconic owl have definitely found a place in pop culture. One of the most popular free language-learning apps, it offers 35 different languages, including Klingon, that can be learned through a series of vocabulary-matching games.

DuoLingo offers a free version and a version for $9.99 a month without ads and with offline access.

Rosetta Stone Overview

The Rosetta Stone app is a beast. There are 24 different languages to choose from, but more importantly, you get a huge variety of methods for learning. Not only are there simple games, but there are stories where you get to listen, the Seek and Speak feature, where you go on a treasure hunt to photograph images and get the translations, and the TruAccent feature, which will help you refine your accent. Whenever you speak into the app, you'll get a red/yellow/green rating on your pronunciation, so you can fine-tune it to really sound like you have a firm grasp of the language.

Rosetta Stone costs just $5.99 a month for a 24-month subscription, which gives you access to all of their 24 languages!

Final Notes

Overall, these are both excellent apps for increasing your proficiency in a new language! They both feel quite modern and have a fun experience.

When it comes to really committing words to memory and understanding them, Rosetta Stone is king.

DuoLingo definitely will help you learn new words, and the app can be addicting, but users report it as more of a game than a means to an end.

With Rosetta Stone's variety of features, you'll never get bored; there are more passive elements and more active elements to help you activate different parts of your brain, so you're learning in a more dynamic and efficient way.

The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers only: Up To 45% Off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Languages & Free Tutoring Sessions!

Travel

So You Want to Try Workaway

Want to travel cheap, meet locals and kindred spirits, live off the land, and possibly change your life? It might be time to try Workaway.

Sitting in a house on a hill in Tuscany, Italy, watching the sun set and listening to the sound of music coming from the house in which I was staying almost rent-free, I wondered how I had gotten this lucky.

Actually, it was really all thanks to one website—Workaway.info.

Workaway Workaway


Workaway is a site that sets travelers up with hosts, who provide visitors with room and board in exchange for roughly five hours of work each weekday. The arrangement varies from host to host—some offer money, others require it—but typically, the Workaway experience is a rare bird: a largely anti-capitalist exchange.

I did four Workaways the summer I traveled in Europe, and then one at a monastery near my home in New York the summer after. Each experience, though they lasted around two weeks each, was among the most enriching times of my life—and I'd argue I learned almost as much through those experiences as I did in four years of college.

There's something extremely special about the Workaway experience, though it's certainly not for everyone.

Workaway Isn't for Everyone: What to Know Before You Go

I loved all the Workaways I went on, but the best advice I can give to anyone considering going is: Enter with an open mind. If you're someone who doesn't do well with the unexpected, if you're not willing to be flexible, if you're a picky eater or easily freaked out, then it's likely that you won't have a good experience at a Workaway.

There are exceptions to all of this. At the Workaway I stayed at in Italy, one of the travelers was suffering from stomach bloating, and the host helped cure her with a diet of miso. (I'm not saying you should go Workawaying if you're ill—this traveler's mother also came to oversee everything—but still, you never know what you'll find).

Workaway WoIsango.com

You should also probably be willing and able to actually work at your Workaway. These aren't vacations, and some hosts will be stricter and less forgiving than others regarding your work ethic. If you're someone who has no experience with difficult farm work, for example, it might not be a good idea to do a Workaway on a farm.

How to Choose a Host

The Workaway website boasts a truly overwhelming number of hosts. You can narrow your search down by location, but you can also search key terms that can help guide you in the right direction. You might search "music," for example—that's how I found the Italy location. You'll find hosts in busy cities and in the most remote mountains of India; you'll find opportunities to tutor and explore. You'll find shadiness, too, so trust your instincts.

Take time to actually read the host's entire bio before reaching out. Read all the comments, too, and if you're nervous or a first-timer, only reach out to hosts who have exclusively glowing reviews. I had the best experiences with hosts that had left extremely detailed bios—that showed me they were likely going to be dedicated hosts.

I also chose hosts whose bios gave me a good feeling, something like a spark of electricity or recognition. This instinctual method might not work for everyone, but it certainly led me in the right direction in all of my Workaway experiences. My Workaways gave me some of the best memories and deepest relationships of my life, and that was partly thanks to the fact that I chose places that were good fits for me.

For example, I chose to stay alone with a wizened academic in France. Something about his bio and descriptions resonated with me enough to trust him. (I also read some of his many thousand-page-long treatises on peace and compassion and decided that if someone could write this and be a psychopath, this wasn't a world I wanted to live in anyway). It was the right decision—and the two weeks I spent there were some of the most enlightening of my entire life.

When you reach out to a host, particularly if it's someone you really want to stay with, it's a good idea to frame your initial contact email as a cover letter of sorts—make sure you explain who you are and personalize your letter to fit each host.

Ixcanaan A Workaway painting experienceWorkaway


Travel Safely

Especially if you're traveling alone, it's always a good idea to choose a host whose page has tons of good reviews. Aside from that, a quick Google search and a scan of any social media pages related to your potential host can't hurt.

Ultimately, Workawaying requires a certain amount of trust and faith on both the host and the traveler's parts—you're either trusting someone to stay in your home or trusting a stranger to host and feed you.

But that trust, in my experience, also results in rapid and deep connections unlike anything I've experienced in the "real world." When you go and share a home with someone, you're also sharing yourself with them, and in that exchange there are the seeds of a powerful bond.

Participate Fully

Wherever you go, you'll want to open your mind and participate fully. Adjust yourself to your host's lifestyle, not the other way around, and take time to get to know your host and the others around you.

You might find that you become someone you never knew you were. As a lifelong introvert, I somehow managed to develop close relationships with many of the people I was staying with.

This might be because most people who are at Workaways are seeking something for one reason or another. In my experience, you find lots of people who are at junctures in their lives, seeking connection and meaning. With the right Workaway, you might just find it.

Workaway The Broke Backpacker - WorkawayThe Broke Backpacker