Friday, November 26, 2021

Holiday Self-Care with Citrus

Ahhh, the holidays.....a whirlwind of cooking, eating, family gatherings, gift-exchanging, festive decorating, celebrating, socializing, and...stress. It seems ironic that we get "time off" for the holidays only to fill that time right up with an extensive to-do list, one that is usually more than what most mere mortals can handle.  Don't get me wrong--we WANT to do these holiday things. We thumb through magazines and click through websites loaded with inspired ideas that get our holiday cockles all aglow...until the glow fades out and we find ourselves in the middle of a pile of half-wrapped gifts and half-decorated cookies, feeling half-baked, overwhelmed and out of juice. Funny we should mention juice...but more on this later.

Self-Care Is Important During the Holidays

One of the most beautiful features of the holiday season is its emphasis on giving. Whether it's a trip to the mall or local artisan markets to buy presents, sending delicious citrus and special treats from Florida Fruit Shippers to friends and family all over the world, volunteering at a local shelter, or donating food to help fill the shelves of a community food pantry, it is easy to forget that we have to restock our own shelves regularly to keep the momentum of giving spirit going. It's not shelve-ish (er, selfish). In fact, it behooves us to create space for some self-care in the midst of the activity whirlwind. Ironically, a little bit of time spent in taking care of yourself will pay off with more time and energy to keep going

Citrus Can Help!

So what does all of this have to do with juice, and how can citrus possibly help with easing the stress of the season?  Well, there are actually a number of ways you can turn to our favorite fruits to help nurture body and mind, depending on how much time you have.  

Hydrate with Orange Juice
One of the most overlooked causes of fatigue is dehydration. The equation is simple: we get busy + we forget to hydrate = we get dehydrated.  Now, keeping a jug of water nearby is always a good idea.  When things are particularly crazy, however, enjoying a tall, cool glass of orange juice once or twice per day in addition to your regular water intake can have amazing restorative effects.  Along with its hydration benefits. the blast of vitamin C will infuse your body with a sustaining source of energy and strengthen your immune system (lest we forget that holiday time is also cold and flu season). Orange juice has also been found to alleviate inflammation, and the fiber in its pulp is great for keeping us regular--another stress reliever! And, just the very act of taking a moment to restore and renew by enjoying a drink is restorative in and of itself.  Try not to chug it down, but rather take slow and steady sips, enjoying the moment of self-care.

Try a Grapefruit Facial

If you can carve out just a bit of time, try a facial. We hold a lot of tension in our countenance, often without even realizing it. A little nurturing attention to the area can work wonders for stress relief. But what kind of facial do we do, and how do we do it? When you do a search for the latest, greatest rejuvenating facials, most spas will offer some fancy version of a grapefruit or citrus peel treatment. Grapefruits are loaded with anti-inflammatory properties, as well as Vitamin C and its derivatives which lock in moisture to help us look and feel revitalized, so spas love to tout these benefits with their treatments and products. Going to a spa, however, can add stress to your pocketbook. Fortunately, there's no need to pay a spa or even purchase a product boasting grapefruit-extracted ingredients. Look no further than the grapefruit on your kitchen counter, and the plain yogurt (dairy or non-dairy) in your fridge! The recipe is simple: mix the juice from half of a fresh grapefruit with half a cup of plain yogurt, and apply to your skin.  Assume a reclining position on the couch or even in a warm bathtub for up to twenty minutes, rinse, and pat dry.  Drink a glass of orange juice, take a deep breath, and return to your holiday activities.

With a bit of citrus-enhanced self-care, you can be indeed be assured of a less-stressful, FUN holiday season!  From all of us here at Florida Fruit Shippers to you, Happy Holidays! 


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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Mindful Eating with Oranges

 'Tis the overeat.  It's practically expected and even encouraged of us during this festive, food-centric time of year. How many holiday feasts throw moderation to the wind during that second, third, or even fourth helping, or that extra slice of pie? No big deal, we rationalize; we only do this once or twice per year, after all. Except that statistics show that Americans actually binge a lot more often than that, and that the season for gratitude is quickly being replaced by the season for overconsumption.

The Overconsumption Cycle

A big part of the reason for this urge to binge, according to Psychology Today, is actually due to deprivation.  While that may sound paradoxical, closer examination reveals a lot of logic to this observation: by totally depriving ourselves of foods we really love during times when we have good willpower, we are only building up potential energy for a binge fest during times of stress, fatigue, or when given an excuse like a holiday feast.  This hyperbolic pattern of eating is unwholesome for the body and the mind, because it also fosters feelings of guilt and shame. These feelings exacerbate an unhealthy cycle: we don't eat what we "shouldn't," then we eat too much of it, then we feel bad about ourselves, and the cycle starts all over again. However, there is a solution, and it doesn't involve giving up the joy of a hearty meal.

Oranges to the Rescue!

Enter the humble yet all-powerful orange, which is a delicious, nutrition-packed gateway to moderation and a wonderful choice for cultivating mindful eating. Just eating an orange, mindfully or not, will immediately fill you up with nutrients and fiber enough to make you want to eat less and eat healthier, especially when paired with a tall glass of fresh water. Starting any meal with an orange, or eating an orange after a meal but before dessert, will work wonders to curb overindulgence.

What is Mindful Eating?

The solution to breaking the deprivation-overeating cycle, according to health experts and dieticians, is mindful eating, also known as intuitive eating.  The concept of intuitive eating is multi-faceted: honor your hunger, look at food as your sustenance versus your enemy, end self-judgement based on what foods you're choosing to eat at any given moment, slow down your chews and swallows and begin to tune in to when you feel satisfied, practice self-compassion when you are struggling, make smart food choices without depriving yourself of other foods you might not classify as "smart" but which you really really want (think of that pie!), stay active. While these may read like a list of very different things, they really all are versions of being mindful about your relationship to food and your body.  But how can we learn to be mindful in this way?  Once again, we can turn to the mighty orange!

Meditation on an Orange

Try this easy meditation exercise in the morning, right after waking up and before you carry on with the rest of your usual routine.  

    *Inhale. Exhale. 

    *Walk slowly to the kitchen, paying attention to the sensation of the contact of your feet on the floor.

    * Reach your hand out and pick up an orange from Florida Fruit Shippers

    *Feel its size and weight in your hand.  Turn it around a few times, getting a sense of its texture and observing its color and shape. 

    *Close your eyes.  Bring the orange to your nose and inhale deeply. Imagine the sun, rain, and soil that grew the tree that fruited this orange. 

    *Open your eyes and observe the orange again.  Gently begin to peel the rind, being attentive to the feel of the flesh and the aroma of the zest. 

    *Tenderly separate each segment of the orange. Observe the patterns and colors on a segment. 

    *Draw a segment to your mouth. Inhale. Exhale. Take a small bite. Notice the burst of juice and sweetness on your tongue and the inside of your cheeks. 

    *Chew slowly, and do not lift another segment until this one has been fully experienced, chewed, and swallowed.  

    *Continue with the remaining segments, inviting your senses to partake of each step. 

    *Notice any additional or new sensations or emotions, such as an urge to rush, and allow these feelings to arise without judging or acting on them.  Continue to move slowly and mindfully, and with gratitude.  

When the orange has been fully ingested, remain still for a few more minutes, inhaling and exhaling, enjoying the aftertaste, and inviting  gratitude.  Notice throughout your day how this mindful eating can inform your other meals and even your other tasks. Here's to a happy and healthy holiday season, and an invitation to enjoy--really enjoy--your holiday meals!


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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

How to Make a Citrus Menorah

Want to get a head start on December festivities?  This year, Hanukkah --The Jewish Festival of Lights-- begins in November. It is celebrated for eight nights, starting on November 28 and ending on December 6. Even if you're not Jewish, Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah and Hanukah) contains wonderful traditions and decorations that merge beautifully with the spirit of this time of the year.  Lights, food, family, games, gifts, and gratitude all play a part during the celebration of Hanukkah, and the centerpiece is, without a doubt, the Menorah.   

What Is a Menorah?

A menorah, which translates from Hebrew as "lamp stand," is a candelabrum with branches on it to hold seven or nine candles. The Hanukkah menorah, or Hanukkiah, contains nine branches: a taller one called the shamash in the center, and four shorter ones to the left and right of the shamash.  Hanukkah menorahs come in all shapes and sizes, from simple and tiny to very embellished, large, and expensive.  But it isn't necessary to spend a lot of money or time to enjoy a beautiful menorah in your home.  If you have a grapefruit, eight oranges, and a box of Chanukah candles available at most stores or online, you can make your own!

Why Make It with Citrus?

Well, here at Florida Fruit Shippers, where citrus is our passion, the immediate response from our vantage point is, "Why not?"  But beyond even that, it is interesting to note that oranges and grapefruits have a long history in the traditions of Jewish culture. Because citrus fruits have always been an important part of holiday meals and ceremonies, Jewish farmers who lived some 1,500 years ago mastered cultivation of citron and then many other varieties of citrus as the diaspora spread throughout the Mediterranean and beyond, and Jewish merchants were able to spread the deliciousness of citrus even further. With this bit of history in mind, it makes sense that a citrus menorah is aligned with Hanukkah. So, if you love to DIY as much as me, you'll love this easy project that results in a festive, fragrant, and very affordable menorah!  

How to Make It

You'll need one grapefruit and four oranges for your citrus menorah.  First, find a platter or large board to situate your fruit upon. Line with aluminum foil. Cut just bit off of the bottom of the grapefruit so that it is flat.  Place the grapefruit securely at the center of the platter.  Make sure it is stable--we are lighting a candle on it! Then, cut each of the oranges in half and place them flat side down on both sides of the grapefruit, four on each side. Take a paring knife and cut holes at the top of each piece of citrus, just big enough to situate a Hanukkah candle inside, but not so big that the candle isn't secure. 

How to Use Your Citrus Menorah

You will need a full box of menorah candles (available at most big box stores or online). At sundown on the first night of Hanukkah, light one candle, the shamash, and put it in the grapefruit at the center.  Then, place one unlit candle on the orange furthest to the right. Use the shamash to light the first orange candle.  Sing a song or take a moment of quiet reflection, and allow the candles to burn all the way to exhaustion (do keep an safety eye on them, as with anything using fire). On the second night, place candles in the two oranges furthest to the right, and light them with the shamash. Continue in this way each night, adding a candle from right to left until the eighth night, when all of the candles will be lit.  If you wish, you can exchange gifts each night, or just on the last night.  We suggest a gift basket from Florida Fruit Shippers!

Wishing you and yours a happy and citrus-illumined Hanukkah.

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Friday, November 12, 2021

Thanksgiving Recipes Are Better with Oranges

Orange you glad it’s Autumn? Okay, okay, pun notwithstanding, oranges are a delightful companion to cooler weather recipes, and particularly Thanksgiving classic side dishes like cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans, and apple cider. Boasting a perfect combination of sweet and tart flavors, not to mention the healthy polyphenols from the zest, oranges lift the traditional hearty repast into brighter territory.  

orange fruit beside clear drinking glass filled with black liquid

 Some Chef's Secrets

It is helpful to have a few simple culinary terms, tools, and techniques under your belt before diving into the recipes.  

The first one is the term zest, aka the outer colored portion of a citrus peel, or in this case the orange outer layer.  When a recipe calls for zest, it is typically asking for the outer peel to be finely grated or minced. 

There is a bit of finesse involved, as we want to separate the zest from the white, pithy inner layer of the peel, which can be quite bitter.  The most straightforward way would be to use the smallest holes on a simple rasp, plane, or box grater, and hand grate a washed orange until the orange layer is gone. If you don’t have a grater on hand, you can use a vegetable peeler and fleck off small pieces of zest at a time until the orange looks white. A typical orange will yield about two to three tablespoons of grated zest.

 Not only is zest tangy and delicious; it is also loaded with polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties. And if you get a little of the white pith mixed in, don’t worry; bitters are very healthy and it’s not likely to overpower the sweet piquancy of the zest.  

Another helpful technique is knowing how to juice an orange. No matter which technique you use to juice, do roll the orange on the counter a few times first, to help break down the cell walls so the fruit releases its juices more readily.

If you have a manual juicer, cut the orange in half and simply press and twist each half downward onto the juicer, making sure that the whole rig is situated over a catch bowl to collect the prized juice.  If you do not own a juicer, there is a fu --if slightly less neat--way to juice that I learned from a friend: Cut the orange in half at its widest diameter.  Take a fork and poke the tines all over the exposed innards of the fruit. Then, plunge the fork into the center of the orange, hold it over a bowl, and twist.  Continue this process, moving outward from the center to the rind until not one ounce of juice remains in the fruit. Pick or strain out the seeds and voila!  You have juiced your orange.

Important tip: If a recipe calls for both orange juice and zest, remember to zest the orange first, as zesting a juiced orange is almost impossible. 

Which Oranges Should I Use?

Here’s an important question: Which orange varieties are best for zesting, juicing, and cooking? 

For zesting, any variety will do, but to minimize waste it is wise to use the same orange as the one you will be juicing.  A general rule of thumb is that oranges with the most vibrant rind color generally procure the tastiest zest and yummiest juice. Valencias, Tangelos, Satsumas, Blood Oranges, Clementines, Sugarbelles, Honeybelles, and even Navels are all great choices—as long as they are sweet! For straight-up cooking, as in with your apple cider, you can’t lose with Navels or Blood Navels, as they hold their shape well and have the added bonus of being seedless.

The Recipes!

Here are some simple and delicious recipes for your holiday cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans, and apple cider, all enhanced with the flavor appeal of oranges. These recipes were carefully chosen for nutrition, ease of preparation, and easy substitution with gluten-free and/or vegan alternatives. Not sure about whether you’re buying the best oranges for each recipe?  Don’t worry: here at Florida Fruit Shippers, we’ve got you covered: Premium Oranges 


In this recipe, you'll add a little "zest" to your cranberry sauce--literally! 


No worries about bland dressing with this recipe! Can substitute gluten-free dressing mix and vegan butter and bouillon if desired.


Mmmmm, ginger and orange together....


Like ginger, the spicy notes of cinnamon pair beautifully with oranges.

And of course, you can’t lose by garnishing your Thanksgiving turkey (or tofurkey) with slices of a color variety of delicious oranges.  Have a delicious Thanksgiving!

Additional Sources:


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