Sunday, December 3, 2017

Clean Eating with Florida Citrus

It’s the time of year when we all tend to overindulge—maybe a little, maybe a lot. What with all the parties, food gifts, and cookie platters, holiday weight gain and unbalanced eating can feel a little inevitable.

I enjoy all the holiday favorites, but I also often enjoy the feeling of “taking a break” from all the richness. This is where cooking with and snacking on fresh Florida citrus can help. Whether you’re aiming for a little balance or trying to change your eating habits permanently, these delicious fruits can help you eat better effortlessly.

We may think of citrus as a sweet, guilt-free snack, and it certainly can serve that purpose well—a navel, tangerine, or Honeybell eaten out of hand (maybe with a little protein, like some cheese or almonds) makes for a great healthy afternoon nibble. But there are so many more possibilities for clean eating with citrus, especially when it comes to cooking.

The balanced, sweet-acid flavor of citrus juice provides so much flavor punch, especially in savory food. One cooking secret that experienced chefs know is how important acid flavors like orange and lemon juice are to “bringing out” the flavor of food. In fact, they serve much the same purpose as salt, without any of the potential health consequences. Using fresh citrus juice in your dishes can really dial up the flavor without adding anything negative as far as health. Here are some healthy recipes using citrus juice:

Citrus Grilled Shrimp and Zoodles: Grilled shrimp is marinated in fresh orange juice with lime and cilantro and served on a bed of zucchini “zoodles.”

Hawaiian Grilled Chicken Salad with Mango Vinaigrette : This beautiful salad with grilled chicken breast, mangoes, red peppers, and a fresh citrus juice vinaigrette looks delicious.

Orange Rosemary Glazed Salmon: Recipes featuring orange glazes are often high in added sugar, but not this one. You’ll enjoy the savory combination of orange and rosemary with salmon, a perennial family favorite and healthy choice.

Citrus zest is also another incredible flavor secret for flavorful and healthy food. Orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, and lime zest are not only delicious and intensely flavorful, they're thought to be extremely good for us. Zest is very high in vitamin C and in antioxidants that may have cancer-fighting abilities. Scientists are still learning more, but some believe the most healthful properties of citrus are actually concentrated here.

Citrus Caesar Salad with Zesty Shrimp: This Caesar salad actually uses the zest from 3 citrus fruit—orange, lemon, and lime—to make a delightfully different dressing.

Orange Ginger Tofu: This healthful recipe uses both zest and juice and incorporates tofu and broccoli for a high-calcium, vegan meal that’s also delicious.

Cranberry-Orange Brussel Sprout Slaw: High in fiber, low in fat, zingy, and crunchy, this is a perfect winter salad for when you’re feeling bogged down by carby and rich meals.

And of course, using the actual citrus fruit itself in all kinds of dishes provides a delicious flavor boost while also providing health benefits. What you get from using the fruit sections that you don’t get from using juice or zest is a big helping of fiber, which citrus fruit are rich in. Fiber is key to our health because it helps our digestion, lowers our cholesterol, and keeps blood sugar stable. A medium orange has 2-3 grams of fiber and a grapefruit has about 2 grams of fiber (we don’t tend to eat the more fibrous parts of the grapefruit… though if you peel them and eat them like you do an orange, you do!)

Citrus and Pomegranate Fruit Salad: This stunning and extremely simple salad is packed with nutrients, high in fiber, and contains no added sugar.

Pink Detox Salad: We’ll “detox” any day of the week if we get to eat this incredible-looking salad, full of ruby-red grapefruit, strawberries, and watermelon on top of kale! Yum.

Orange Coconut Chia Pudding: Have you tried chia seeds? These nutritious little seeds are not only high in fiber but have an amazing ability to naturally thicken liquids to a pudding-like consistency when left to sit. Here, they turn light coconut milk and orange slices into a tasty, healthy breakfast pudding.

This holiday season, enjoy your sweets and treats, but take time to treat your body well and eat lightly and nutritiously, too. With citrus, it’s easy and delicious to do this, now and year-round.

For more healthy citrus recipes and lots more amazing citrus ideas, check out Florida Fruit Shippers on Pinterest!

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