If you ask me, fresh fruits should get the same adoration during the cold weather months as they do in the spring and summer. While produce like melons, berries, peaches may not be at the peak of ripeness when Jack Frost is nipping about, there are plenty of other nutritious, delicious fruits that rock the winter season – and citrus fruit is my favorite. Dozens of varieties of citrus fruits, from the everyday orange to the unusual Ugli fruit, will put extra zest and zing into your healthy diet if you give them a chance.
Growing up in Arizona, my family had our own little backyard orchard that produced enough oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons and limes to feed a small army. We ate all we could and treated our neighbors to bags full; then mom juiced and jellied the rest! Today, it always shocks me to see the expense of many citrus fruits, remembering I once used to pluck whatever I wanted off a tree for free. That being said, I’m still willing to pay a pretty penny for a gorgeous grapefruit or tangy tangelo because I know that the abundant vitamin C and other nutrients in citrus fruits are beneficial to my well-being. Vitamin C has been shown to offer protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.
There’s not much that sours my mood more than buying fruit that isn’t ripe. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to pick out ripe citrus fruit. Look for fruit that are firm and heavy for their size, with bright, colorful skin. You can store citrus at room temperature for several days; beyond this, keep in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Here are some other healthy tips to help you maximize your use of citrus fruit this season:
- Add lemon slices to your water. Lemon helps to balance your ph levels; replenish vitamin C, magnesium and potassium; and encourages optimal hydration – when water tastes good, you’re likely to drink more!
- Add citrus zest to recipes. Most people just toss citrus peel away; but, it’s actually a very delicious and nutritious part of the fruit. Use a micro-grater to remove zest from well-washed fruit and toss into salad dressings, stir frys, smoothies, sauces and your other favorite recipes. When zesting, remember to only remove the colored part of the skin and avoid the white pith which can be very bitter.
- Repurpose halved citrus rinds. Use hollowed out citrus fruit as “bowls” for sorbets, sherbets and granitas. Or, after you’ve scooped out an orange or tangerine, fill with your favorite muffin batter, set in a muffin tin for balance, and bake as usual.
- Take citrus fruit to-go. I can’t think of a more perfectly portable snack than citrus fruit. Throw a couple pieces in your purse or gym tote for a healthy treat when hunger calls between meals or after a workout. Not only is fruit so much healthier than hitting a vending machine, citrus fruits doesn’t need refrigeration, come in their own storage containers, and won’t get bruised or smashed.
Fitmark Ambassador 2014