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So you eat the occasional grapefruit or guzzle a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice when it’s there for the taking. Great. But if you knew the true benefits of the citrus family of fruits—which also includes tangerines, lemons and limes—we’re pretty sure you’d up your daily intake. Why?
“Citrus fruits as a whole are packed with beneficial antioxidants and essential nutrients that can promote heart health and maybe even reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, like cancer,” says Heather R. Mangieri, MS, RD, owner of Nutrition CheckUp, LLC and a Spokesperson for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Aside from all those flavonoids and that massive dose of Vitamin C she's talking about, studies have also shown that these fiber-rich foods (especially grapefruit) might even control appetite and aid in weight loss. No doubt, that’s a powerful combination…especially for such a low-cal food
Citrus isn’t just available all year round, but it also tastes great in winter, when other fruits lack flavor. So when you’re at the grocery store, simply look for fruit that’s firm and heavy, with a bright and colorful skin—and avoid those that have bruising or wrinkling. Then, take those suckers home and test out these five recipes. They're just as simple as pouring a glass of OJ.
1. Sweeten a Salad
To add flavor and fiber to a vegetable-heavy salad, toss in some mandarin oranges or diced grapefruit slices. You can do it with any basic recipe, but one killer combination we love is an Asian-style medley of spinach, grilled chicken or shrimp, tomatoes, chopped snow peas, and mandarin oranges. Sprinkle a few peanuts on top for some extra crunch, then drizzle with a dressing made of oil, vinegar, and soy sauce. Bam. You’ve got a light lunch that feels like a real meal.
2. Whip Up a Citrus Salsa
Even your favorite lean protein can get a little boring night after night, so switch up your serving style by topping it off with an easy citrus salsa. Just dice one red grapefruit, one orange, and one tomato; then, add minced jalapeno pepper, diced red onion, and fresh chopped cilantro to taste. Combine, drain, and spoon on top of grilled chicken or fish. “The Vitamin C will boost the bioavailability of the iron in the poultry or fish, meaning your body can use it better,” says Mangieri. “It’s a winning combo.”
3. Spike Water or Tea with Lemon
Don’t like plain water? Squeeze a lemon wedge or two into your glass to boost the taste and deliver more nutrition—just one ounce of fresh lemon juice contains 20% of your daily Vitamin C needs, says Mangieri. You should also consider adding fresh lemon juice to tea, she adds; it helps to up the beverage’s antioxidant power.
4. Grill Up Some Grapefruit
If you’re just using your grill for chicken or fish, you’re missing out. Preheat that sucker, then—while you do—slice a grapefruit into meaty circles. Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar and some cinnamon and grill until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Serve as a dessert topped with a little Greek yogurt, add them to your salad, or use as a healthy topper on a grilled chicken sandwich. (You can also add orange, grapefruit, or tangerine sections to your seafood, chicken, or beef kebabs.)
5. Make a Healthy Frozen Snack
This homemade Orange-Banana Shorbet tates like a cross between sorbet and sherbet (hence the name) and makes for a perfect summertime treat.
- 1 ½ cups fresh squeezed orange juice (about 4-5 oranges)
- 2 oranges, cut into chunks
- 2 small bananas
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- In medium saucepan, heat the freshly squeezed orange juice and the honey. Sprinkle the gelatin over he mixture. Cook it over low heat stirring constantly to dissolve the gelatin. Do not boil. Cool.
- In a food processor, add the oranges, banana and lemon juice and puree. Stir into cooled orange juice mixture. Pour into a shallow 8”x 8” baking pan and freeze until firm.
- Once the mixture is frozen, scoop and serve.
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