conscious cook 1-26“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” — Helen Keller

Among the most rejuvenating and uplifting foods we can enjoy during the darker days of winter are citrus fruits. The glorious sweetness of satsumas, mandarins, clementines, ruby red and white grapefruits, pomelos, blood oranges and navel oranges infuse the plate with extraordinary color and fabulous flavor.

Versatile, vivacious citrus fruits can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Freshly squeezed citrus juice makes breakfast or brunch just a bit brighter, while a platter of sliced citrus atop a bed of arugula, combined with fennel, chopped toasted walnuts and a shower of shaved parmesan is a most elegant winter salad. Just a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of infused balsamic vinegar, such as fig or pomegranate, will dress your salad quite nicely. Roasted beet salad is a spectacular dish, particularly when plated with blood orange and Cara Cara orange slices and scattered with gorgonzola or goat cheese. Finish off your salad with just a squeeze of orange juice and a grinding of fresh black pepper.

If indulging in eggs Benedict, consider upgrading your hollandaise with freshly squeezed orange juice, rather than the traditional lemon. Citrus fruit and zest will bring a sensational sprightliness to pancakes, french toast, muffins, coffee cakes, pound cakes, puddings, tarts and cheesecakes. A simple icing of confectioners sugar, orange zest, orange juice and a bit of orange extract can bring a bit of sunshine to winter cookies and cakes.

Adding orange segments to grain and rice salads not only infuses the dish with brightness, but adds essential nutritional benefits. Combine orange pieces, barley, dried cranberries, chopped toasted almonds mixed with an orange vinaigrette and chopped fresh parsley for a super winter side dish. Or try brown rice with the orange infusion, but substitute walnuts , hazelnuts or pecans with dried cherries or minced dried apricots.

Oranges and grapefruits have low glycemic index scores, meaning their natural sugar content does not cause a significant spike in blood sugar. Low in calories, oranges and grapefruit provide dietary fiber, which may also help prevent spikes in blood sugar, as well as lowering cholesterol and helping prevent constipation. Rich in vitamin C content, citrus fruits help produce collagen which provides structure and elasticity for cartilage and tendons.

Bring in the sunshine this winter and enjoy citrus fruits as you prepare your delicious life!

 

Orange Vinaigrette

1 ½ Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 Tablespoon honey or maple syrup

¼ cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a glass jar. Place lid on jar and make sure it is secure. Then shake dressing until all ingredients are well blended. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 4 hours for flavors to blend.

Sunny Barley Salad

Serves 6-8

1 cup uncooked quick cooking barley

1 ½ -2 cups of orange segments (blood orange is particularly nice in this recipe)

¼ chopped fresh parsley

½ cup chopped, toasted almonds

½ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup or more of orange vinaigrette (from above recipe)

salt

freshly ground black pepper

Cook barley according to package instructions. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool. When cool, gently mix in orange segments, parsley, almonds and dried cranberries. Add dressing a little at a time until coated, being careful not to overdress. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper.

For more on Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook” go to www.theconsciouscook.net