With shorter days and colder weather, it’s easy to get the winter blues. Even our meals can start to look a little drab and depressing due to many fruits and vegetables being out of season. Luckily, citrus fruits are at their peak during the winter months—just in time to brighten up even the dreariest of days!
Fruits like clementines, mandarin oranges, tangerines, Meyer lemons and grapefruits are fresh, ripe and bursting with flavor. They’re also loaded with vitamin C, which can provide many health benefits, especially during cold and flu season. In fact, studies show that consuming vitamin C can help counter the negative effects stress has on our immune systems. Taking it while sick may also prevent cold sufferers from developing more serious illnesses like the flu or pneumonia.
Citrus is good for your skin too. According to a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, higher vitamin C intake can lead to less wrinkles and more youthful skin. It has also been linked to keeping the skin more moisturized, which is critical in dry, windy winter conditions.
Get your vitamin C in early in the day by incorporating citrus into your breakfast. Include orange slices on your plate or add them to yogurt and granola for a parfait. Bring a little zest to your morning routine with this Ultimate Citrus Smoothie. The sweet and tangy flavors of Meyer lemon and tangerine combined with creamy Greek yogurt are sure to get your morning off to a bright start.
Mandarin oranges make a delicious salad topper too. Combine them with almonds, feta cheese and your favorite vinaigrette. Swap lettuce for spinach for a double dose of vitamin C. For dessert, sprinkle grapefruit halves with cinnamon and sugar and broil in the oven until slightly browned. Top the halves with yogurt and a little honey and enjoy!
For more recipes and nutrition tips, visit www.southeastdairy.org.
Laura Marbury, MS, RD, LD