Conscious Cook: The glory of a new year

“Glory to God in highest heaven, Who unto man his Son hath given; While angels sing with tender mirth, A glad new year to all the earth.” — Martin Luther

New Year’s Eve is a glorious occasion to reflect upon the past year, to cherish fond memories, acknowledge important events, and be humbled and educated by challenging moments. With the new year comes new opportunity to prepare a delicious life.

While many choose to celebrate New Year’s Eve at a sparkling soirée or decadent dinner party, many conscious cooks choose to revel in their own kitchens. New Year’s Eve at home can be simple or sumptuous, when high quality ingredients elevate the menu. Perfectly ripe and runny cheeses, freshly harvested oysters, lush smoked salmon, asparagus, lightly steamed and bathed in a lemony hollandaise, plump Medjool dates stuffed with chevre and candied pecans are just a smattering of ideas for an at-home holiday.

The midnight toast is a tradition that should be enjoyed with a superb cocktail. Champagne or Prosecco are a delicious choice and should you choose to include freshly squeezed citrus juices, they will add vibrant color and healthy attributes to the glass.

Blood oranges are a wonderful choice. With their unique shade of pinky orange, with crimson streaks, blood oranges are sensational for juicing and add a tantalizing, deep rosy tint to any beverage, sauce, compote or sorbet. Rich in potassium and anthocyanins, blood oranges may have the capability to help slow or prevent the growth of cancer cells, control inflammation and prevent free radical damage.

Offering a significant source of vitamin C, blood oranges provide superior levels of antioxidant protection for the body. Somewhat sweeter and less acidic than many other varieties of citrus fruits, blood oranges have sensual overtones of raspberry and strawberry, imbuing them with absolutely fabulous flavor, for a multitude of any occasion dishes. Cooking down several cups of blood orange juice with a bit of sugar and cinnamon will yield a marvelous syrup for French toast or yogurt, (add a splash to that Champagne cocktail!), blood orange vinaigrette will enliven a winter salad of bitter greens, creamy avocado and pomegranate seeds, or can be melded into a mignonette for those naked oysters. Blood orange marinades add much needed sunshine to cold weather dishes featuring fish, poultry, pork and lamb.

Fat-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free and flush with fiber, the heavenly hued blood orange is a stellar snack choice as it contains few seeds and is super easy to peel. Fill a crystal bowl with these beauties for a gorgeous centerpiece that would be a perfect New Year’s Eve dessert. The succulent sections are so satisfying that no other sweet treats are needed, though a few squares of excellent dark chocolate would be a delectable accompaniment.

Look for blood oranges in any supermarket December through May. Choose fruits that feel firm and well filled and store in your refrigerator for up to a week.

Let us all toast to the glory of a new year and may your kitchen be filled with many blessings as you prepare a delicious life.

Glorious New Year’s Toast

Makes 8

1 ½ cups freshly squeezed blood orange juice

¾ cup Cointreau or Triple Sec

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 750 ML bottle of your favorite Champagne or Prosecco (chilled)

Mix together juices and Cointreau or Triple Sec. Cover and store in refrigerator until serving time. When ready to serve, divide juice mixture between 8 champagne glasses and top off with Champagne or Prosecco. Garnish with orange peel. Cheers!

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