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The inspiring story of the wonky carrot {plus a carrot and zucchini slice recipe you need in your life}

Fat Mum Slim /

Brought to you in partnership with Just Veg.

Late last year my family and I got to do something that was really cool. When I told people, with much enthusiasm, what we were doing… they kinda gave me a weird look as if it was something odd to be excited about. We visited a carrot farm.

I’ve lived around farms all my life, but they were always just farmland with lots of cows. Our house overlooks a farm, and we can hear cows every day. So you can understand that carrots, well, carrots were new and exciting to us. But there’s a twist to this story.

Over the past few years I’ve been in touch with two farmers’ wives, Gen and Alice, who are involved in a little business called Just Veg. You might have seen their veggies at your local Woolies, they make a bunch of delicious carrot products, shredded carrots and carrot sticks. The idea of Just Veg. was born when a group of farmers’ wives – Gen, Alice, Vicki, Tracey and Jane – took pity on the wonky carrots.

You see, not all carrots are created equal. Some are wonkier, and less pretty than others, and often those wouldn’t make the cut {deemed not good enough for first grade orders} and they’d go to waste. They still tasted just as good as all the other carrots, but they didn’t fit the supermodel standards of the marketplace, so away they went. Gen and Alice and co., well they thought that didn’t feel right… so Just Veg. was born. They realised that those wonky carrots could be turned into other delicious things, things like carrot sticks and shredded carrot… which make for a super convenient product that you can use in loads of recipes, or eat just as they are {I love to grab a pack from Woolies before I go into the movies}.

On the day we visited the carrot farm, we took a drive a few ours northwest through the Gold Coast Hinterland, and ended up in a little town called Kalbar, where we were invited into the home of Alice. All of the women had create a carrot dish for us to graze over, and I’m still dreaming of their creations. I’m always the one cooking and entertaining, so to walk into someone’s home and have such amazing dishes put in front of us, it felt like a big, warm, welcoming hug.

That quiche was the best quiche I’ve ever eaten. Find the recipe here.

Little carrot pinwheels. So simple and good!

This carrot cake recipe is famous in town, made by Annie Rieck, and I understand why. Best. Carrot. Cake. Ever. The recipe is here. SO good.

Little meat and carrot meatballs, with a hint of garlic. Grab the recipe here.

Carrot sticks and homemade hummus!

After our tummies were full, we headed down to one of the farms to see how carrot harvesting works, and to pick some carrots ourselves. We set ourselves a little challenge to find the wonkiest carrot ever. Now, my kids have done some pretty amazing things, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them as happy or excited as they were when they were picking carrots.

After picking almost 150 carrots, we headed to the factory to check out how they get processed, which is pretty much like a vegetables slip and slide! They get sorted, and washed, and washed again, and then washed some more and then bagged and send off to supermarkets and fruit & veg shops around Australia.

And then we saw where the the wonky carrots go to. While generally they might have gone to waste, these guys get shredded and cut and bagged so that we can enjoy the convenience of them. Just Veg. has saved more than 2.5 MILLION kilograms of wastage by simply loving the wonky carrot and giving it another life. And just so you know, there is so little waste at the parent company to Just Veg., because they have a purpose for everything – from feeding local cattle, to supplying Foodbank and Oz Harvest – they’ve really thought through everything. Also at the top of their list is to work on packaging {i.e. reducing it} and it’s something we spoke about over lunch and that they’re working on this year too.

We came away from the farm inspired. I loved sitting around the table with all of the women who had a dream, and an idea, and made it happen. The kids came away with a desire to become carrot farmers. This was the girls at 6am, out the front of our house, sorting carrots for family and friends.

Now, I’m going to be working with Just Veg. this year {which I’m super excited about} and I am going to be sharing recipes and doing a few more cool things with them too. Carrots are one of those vegetables that are super versatile and go with anything, so it’s an easy thing to do.

The first recipe I’m going to share with you is super versatile. It can be breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be eaten hot or cold. And it’s perfect for popping into lunchboxes. There is nothing this slice can not do, right?

For this recipe I used the Just Veg. Carrot Shred, and I love this product because unlike grating my own carrot, this keeps it’s crunch which makes it awesome for salad and slices, like this one.

But, I guess I should warn you… it’s moreish. I kept slicing off a little more, and then a little more. It’s so good. And it’s versatile too. Don’t like ham? Leave it out or swap it for cooked bacon. Got no mozzarella but loads of Parmesan? Swap it out.

Super easy carrot and zucchini slice recipe

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Just Veg. shredded carrot

1 medium zucchini, grated {I like to squeeze the liquid out of my zucchini once grated}

1 brown onion, diced finely

1 garlic clove, crushed

150g ham, chopped

1 cup grated mozzarella

1 cup self-raising flour

5 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup Olive Oil

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Line a square dish {around 20cm by 20cm} with baking paper, and preheat your oven to 180ºC {160ºC if you have a fan-forced oven}.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the carrot, zucchini, onion, garlic, ham, cheese and flour. Stir to combine.
  3. In a medium jug or bowl, combine the eggs, milk, oil and salt and pepper. Pour over carrot mixture, and stir to bring everything together. Pour into the prepared baking dish, and spread out to be evenly placed in the dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

@Fatmumslim