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Healthy Eats and Repeat

Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle
Oranges 1

New Year, New Citrus

Happy New Year and welcome to 2014! I hope you will make this a healthy year – continuing the positive choices you already make and adding in new healthy habits.

Original readers of "Healthy Eats and Repeat" may remember a goal I had for this blog to help you say "I've got confidence on today's menu" and feel confident in trying new foods and new recipes. In case you had not already decided on new healthy habits for 2014, consider winter citrus.

Winter brings a lot of different citrus fruits to grocery store shelves. Stocked with more oranges and grapefruits than usual, maybe you have noticed other interesting citrus as well: clementines, tangerines, mandarins, tangelos, cara cara oranges, blood oranges, pomelos (also pummelos), kumquats, and others. (WEB HIGHLIGHT 1 has pictures of many citrus.)

Have you tried one of these less common citrus fruits before? If not, maybe trying one new type of citrus in January is a healthy habit to make.

  • Each fruit has its own unique flavor, but all are sweet and sometimes a little bit sour or acidic.
  • The diverse colors of citrus add to its appeal: from pale white varieties of grapefruit to bright orange tangelos to rosy cara cara oranges to deep ruby blood oranges. Many varieties of similar citrus will have different colors, like red, pink, and white grapefruits.
  • Size and shape also make citrus unique. Pummelos are one of the largest citrus fruits with a thick rind, while mandarins tend to be quite small. Tangelos have an almost oblong shape with their slight neck at one end.
  • Most citrus are easily portable inside their peels, you only need your hands to peel them open, and they do not need to be cooked to eat.
  • With so many different citrus, their nutrition will vary slightly. But fresh citrus fruits are low in calories and are a source of fiber, vitamin C, folate, and potassium.

Some citrus is available year-round in stores, but you will find the best quality and price during winter months.

  • Buy: Choose citrus fruits that are firm and without obvious soft spots, mold, or discoloration. Soft fruits may be older and less juicy.
  • Price: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fresh oranges are priced $0.57 per pound on average, $0.66 per pound for fresh grapefruit, and $1.24 per pound for fresh tangerines. Since fruit sizes vary, you may get more or less fruit per pound.
  • Store: Unpeeled citrus can be stored at room temperature and may last a week or more. Check fruit daily for softness and eat as soon as possible. If mold grows, toss out the fruit.
  • Prepare: Simply wash and peel citrus. A knife may be needed to peel thick-skinned citrus, like pummelos. To zest citrus, wash fruit and remove only the colored skin with a fine grater and stop before the pith. The white pith underneath most peels is bitter tasting.
  • Eat: Citrus is edible raw as part of a meal or snack, and works well in cold salads. When cooked as part of a sweet dessert or a savory meal, the juice or zest is most often used over the fruit sections, but some recipes may include them.

Reference: University of Florida Extension, Horticulture, Fruit Garden Plant List
Reference: University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Publication 8472, Tried and True or Something New?

Make good use of available citrus in January to snack on or to incorporate into your everyday recipes.

Orange-Herbed Fish (serves 4)

Warm up this January with fish studded with fragrant orange peel. Serve with a green vegetable and a mix of roasted starchy vegetables. Try the "Roasted Root Vegetables" recipe in WEB HIGHLIGHT 2.

1 Tbsp water
1 tsp grated orange peel
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 lb white fish fillets, such as cod or tilapia

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. In a small bowl, combine water, orange peel, rosemary, thyme and garlic. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 1 minute. Carefully remove plastic wrap. Stir in parsley.
3. Arrange fillets in a greased 9-in square baking dish. The thickest portions of fillets should be towards outside edges of the baking dish.
4. Spread orange peel mixture evenly over fish fillets.
5. Bake uncovered 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 160 calories, 7g fat, 60mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 22g protein

Adapted from: Illinois Nutrition Education Programs Recipes

WEB HIGHLIGHT 1: The Tried and True or Something New? publication from the University of California is a great visual resource of many different citrus fruits, including some not mentioned in this blog.

WEB HIGHLIGHT 2: Watch this video for instructions on the "Roasted Root Vegetables" recipe from What's Cookin' with Mary Liz. Mary Liz is a fellow Extension Educator.

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