Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Darker the Orange?... the Sweeter the Juice

Outside the gates of Pompeii, Italy, I had the sweetest orange I have ever tasted. Blood oranges, arguably the most succulent of all the citrus fruits, won my heart that day as my orange of choice. I found out later that there is something even more special about these oranges in addition to their juicy taste…

Why have you done a good thing?

Native to Italy, this tart-yet-sweet almost raspberry tasting orange is quite unique with its deep red grapefruit-like flesh. Blood oranges are loaded with vitamin C that is important for wound healing and boosting your immune system. Blood oranges have an extra special dose of antioxidants due the presence of anthocyanins (also found in berries), which give them their deep red color. Anthocyanins are thought be protective against inflammatory damage, particularly to connective tissue in blood vessels helping to prevent heart disease, nervous system damage, eye diseases, and even reducing allergic reactions. Blood oranges are also a wonderful source of folate, which is particularly important for pregnant women for healthy fetal development and for everyone for protection against cardiovascular disease. Best of all, one of these tasty delights packs only 70 calories but 3g of fiber, making it a great snack!

How will I recognize them?

You will spot them by their red-blemished skin and small manageable size. After purchasing, store in the refrigerator as they last best at cold temperatures.

Cooking Ideas:

-Peel them up and eat as a snack

-Use blood orange juice in your next vinaigrette

-Blood Orange Bellini for Sunday brunch!

-Mix a salad with arugula, blood orange segments, and 1 oz of Chevrie (lower fat French goat cheese). Purchase an extra orange, juice it, and combine with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper for a vinaigrette!

-For a light fresh Spring/Summer dinner, try Blood Orange Salsa

3 blood oranges, sliced and chopped

1 avocado, chopped

¼ red onion, diced

Juice of half a lime

Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients together in a small bowl. Use to top grilled chicken or fish!

-In case (G-d forbid) it snows again and we need a warm meal, try glazing lean red meat with Sicilian Blood Orange Sauce

6 blood oranges, juiced

1 tbsp sugar

1 cup port or red wine

Combine orange juice, wine and sugar in a small saucepan and boil until reduced (about 30 minutes). Use as a glaze for Filet Mignon or another lean cut of meat.

--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN

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