Julie Whittington, RD

Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian

Citrus fruits a healthy addition to winter meal planning

‘Tis the time of the year for citrus fruits!  With fruit and vegetable consumption a priority for the health of our nation, I encourage consumers to fill their diets with a balance of nutritious foods – most especially plant foods!

As we find ourselves mid-winter, it is the perfect time to look to fruits such as oranges, tangerines and grapefruits, as excellent sources of natural nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.  And, citrus fruits most certainly extend beyond breakfast into other meals and snacks of the day.  So, put down the artificial snack bar and pick up a fresh orange.  It is a great way to start the New Year and your body will certainly thank you for it.  The only snag is if you currently take certain medications such as cholesterol lowering medications (i.e. statins) or blood pressure medications.    Grapefruit is contraindicated for these individuals, as it can interfere with the way the medications are metabolized.  See http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0206d.shtml for a more comprehensive list of medications with which grapefruit interferes.

Aside from the medical complications for some people, most individuals should aim to consume three to five servings of fruit during the day.  The amount you need depends on your weight and health goals.  Meet with a dietitian to determine your specific intake needs.  A grapefruit generally provides two of your daily fruit servings.  A small orange or two tangerines provide about one serving of fruit.  If you drink citrus juice, one fruit serving is about ½ cup of juice.

Listed below are some delicious ways to brighten and freshen up your winter days while nourishing your body with an array of good-for-you nutrients:

  • Drink ½ cup of orange juice with your breakfast.
  • Avoid citrus fruits packed in syrup or gels.  Instead, opt for fresh or frozen versions with no sugar added.
  • Peel a bag of oranges and put the sections in a zippered bag in the fridge.  This makes it easy to grab and go!
  • Serve grapefruit sections with cottage cheese and a side salad for lunch.
  • Toss orange sections into a dinner salad with almonds, blueberries, feta, grilled chicken and spinach.  Squeeze out the remaining juice from the oranges and make an orange vinaigrette with a little olive oil, mustard and pepper.
  • Marinate poultry or beef with an orange juice-based marinade.  Try this recipe from Cooking Light:  Mix juice from 3 oranges with 2/3 cup maple syrup, 3 tablespoons stone ground mustard, 2.5 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 2.5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper and 4 minced garlic cloves in a bowl.  Marinate pork or poultry with 2 cups of the marinade for about 8 hours.  Reduce the rest of the marinade in a saucepan (boil and then simmer until about 1 cup sauce remains) and use to baste your meat as it cooks. For the full recipe, visit: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1134113
  • Pack your child’s lunch box with tangerines and yogurt dip as dessert, rather than processed junk food.  Simply buy vanilla or strawberry yogurt and divide it up into mini plastic food containers for the dip!
  • Send a fruit basket as a thank-you, rather than a cookie or popcorn tin.

Enjoy your citrus this winter…and be sure to share your favorite recipes with your friends and family members!

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