If you like springtime citrus, you’ll love the blood orange. These sweet, baseball-sized fruits got their name in ancient times from the deep red colored flesh that is reminiscent of, you guessed it, blood. Perhaps this is what a vegetarian vampire would eat? They might have True Blood, but these are probably tastier. While the name may not be appetizing, their distinctive flavor certainly is. Quite different from other oranges, they have a rich flavor that has hints of raspberry overtones, and even the skin can be slightly sweet.
However, not all blood oranges are the same.The three most widely grown varieties you’ll find in our produce departments in the U.S. are:
The Moro- most common variety; has a rich flavor, a round shape, and is the most highly colored. This is the one you are most likely buying now.
The Sanguinelli- often first on the market, this oblong shaped fruit has a strawberry red flesh.
The Tarocco - the largest blood orange, it is more elongated than the others. It also has the highest juice content and its almost berry-flavored flesh makes it the best flavored.
You’re probably wondering: what’s the story on these interesting oranges?
The blood orange is an ancestor to the sweet oranges that first arrived from Asia in the 1400′s. The “arrance rosse” or blood orange is indigenous to Italy. Apparently they originated in the17th century from a spontaneous mutation somewhere near Mount Etna, in Sicily. It’s believed that the sun and volcanic soil near Mount Etna’s black slopes has something to do with the unique flavor and color of the blood oranges grown there. And who knows – it may be true!
These conditions certainly have a large impact on the blood oranges grown in the US. Bloods grown in Florida don’t have nearly as much of the intense red color as the bloods grown in California. This has been attributed to Florida’s limestone soils and weather. On the other hand, California’s hot summer days and cold winter nights are similar to the weather in Sicily and these conditions bring out the best flavor and color. All of the blood oranges you enjoy from west of the Mississippi are generally California grown.
There are many ways to enjoy blood oranges: fresh out of hand, as juice, made into sorbet or even in salad. I love them peeled and pulled into segments and added to a salad of mixed greens or Arugula and Mizuna, thinly sliced red onions, crumbled goat feta, tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Mmmm, mmmm. This is one salad that is as colorful as it is tasty. And so healthy for you!
Talk about eating your colors, I say dig in!
If you’d like to learn more about springtime citrus tune into An Organic Conversation on Green960.com Saturday morning 3/20/2010 @ 10am PST or download it at www.AnOrganicConversation.com after it airs as a podcast or subscribe at iTunes.
I had a peak moment just the other day sitting in the sunshine eating an orange and a tangerine thinking how good they tasted. It wasn’t so long ago that Mandarin oranges and tangerines were reserved for the winter table. Today, with more varieties available, the season extends into spring, and all kinds of citrus fruit have a regular place in our spring produce displays. It’s not uncommon to find Lee mandarins and Page tangerines through March, and Gold Nugget and Dancy tangerines through April.
The small but tasty Pixie tangerines are available from March through June, which takes us right into soft fruit season.
Page, Dancy’s and Pixies are now some of my favorite tangerines and have me looking forward to spring just so I can enjoy their intense orange flesh and delicious flavor. Honey tangerines have a distinctive flavor and are also great this time of year. All of these tangerines with their unique sweetness and vivid color are the perfect perk up for fruit salad. These beauties are great as dessert with some sliced banana and a little yogurt. If you are a bit adventurous you can even make your own tangerine sorbet — yummy!
Their sweet flavor also makes a great juice that is a perfect complement to eggs and waffles. If the juice is too tangeriney, blend in some orange juice. Valencias are the perfect juicing orange. And speaking of oranges, Navels are at their peak right night now and would be another great addition to your lunch routine. And guess what, one navel orange provides more than a full day’s supply of vitamin C!
Or how about Minneola tangelos; some of you may also know them as a “Honey Bells.” These springtime favorites are generally large, bright orange, and somewhat bell or ornament-shaped. Minneola tangelos are a cross between a Duncan grapefruit and Dancy tangerine. They are seedless and have just the right balance of tang to sweet.
Amazingly enough with all these choices there is still more citrus to crow about! This month is when organic kumquats are at their best, especially the Meiwa, which are round in shape and are often referred to as “sweet” kumquats. Kumquats are entirely edible with a thin, sweet skin and a zesty flavored flesh. While commonly used in desserts, my favorite way to eat them is whole.
Here’s a fun trick to get the best flavor from these little gold gems of the citrus family. Place the kumquat between the palms of your hands and roll gently until soft and pliable. Then pop them in your mouth. This action releases the essential oils that are in the rind, which makes for a deliciously sweet first bite and great smelling hands.
So now that you are ready to dig in to some citrus head into your favorite store or farmers market and ask for a sample of any the varieties in stock right now. They are sure to have something that will make your taste buds rejoice!
If you want to find out more about springtime citrus tune in to www.anorganicconversation.com on March 20th when Earl Herrick of Earls Organic Produce, Helge and I break down what is good this spring and how to get the most from every bite.
Until then relish each and every drop of juicy goodness!
Hey Fellow Produce Lover!
I think it could be said that most of us think about sweet potatoes from October through December, and oh the ways we think about using them!!
There are the well known candied sweet potatoes prepared with all sorts of sweet ingredients like brown sugar, marshmallows, maple syrup, molasses, even orange juice that many of you enjoyed around the holidays. Or if you come from the south it’s no doubt you grew up with Sweet potato pie.
But what about the rest of the year? As the holiday season begins you may want to rethink about adding sweet potatoes as a healthy addition to your daily diet. After all they are rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
Check this out:
One baked sweet potato (3 1/2 ounce serving) provides about twice the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of vitamin A over 8,800 IU, and provides 42 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C. Further more a 3 1/2 serving is about a 1/3 of the size of a normal sweet potato so just adding one of these to your daily meals can have a sweet and healthy impact.
Now that I have you thinking about using sweet potatoes more often why not try something other than the two most common soft fleshed sweet varieties that are found in most stores today, Jewels and Garnets?
Try a Japanese sweet or a Hannah sweet for a change of pace. Both of these are a bit firmer and dryer than jewels or garnets: The Hannah has an oblong shape, with a smooth off-white-tan-creamy exterior. The flesh has a light yellow tone that is tender, slightly sweet yet somewhat dry.
Japanese Sweets They have dark-pink skin and white flesh and are slightly sweet similar to yams but with a mild chestnut flavor.
I had a fun discussion about Sweet Potatoes on An Organic Conversation a few weeks back. And next time, I will share a recipe for using the amazing Hannah and her sweet potato sisters!
Until then, love your produce!
Hundreds of different bioflavonoids have been identified in fruits and vegetables in recent years, and are extra abundant in the skin of citrus. Given that we didn’t know much about them just a few years ago, it seems fair to assume that there might be thousands.
Bioflavonoids assist in the absorption and biochemical availability of vitamin C (a.k.a. ascorbic acid), which is critical for optimal immune system function, capillary health, and to fend off many diseases, such as cancer.
The direct connection between vitamin C and bioflavonoids is not yet fully understood, and neither are the millions of relationships between the bioflavonoids themselves – which may be constantly changing with the ripening of the fruit.
Every lemon is a universe in itself, and no pill-form of Vitamin C (even if it contains some bioflavonoids and has 1,000% of the daily recommended dose) can simulate what is happening in nature.
So next time you feel like a Vitamin C boost, buy, or even better, pick a lemon, squeeze it, drink it, take a small bite of the rind, and enjoy the experience of “tart” – and know that you just ingested a myriad of relationships, all working in concert to provide you with optimal health.
To find out more about citrus, read co-host Mark Mulcahy’s latest blog and listen to our recent show on An Organic Conversation!!
It’s been cold this past week. The temperature has dropped, the wasps are gone, the apples are in, and my dog suddenly has a white breath in the cold morning air.
How did this happen? I remember as if it were only the week before; jumping in the pond at a friend’s place to wash off the dust of a beautifully warm late summer day.
And now, at seven in the morning, out in West Marin, the patches of grass that lie in the shade are frozen over.
This will happen to my life too. Suddenly, before I know it, I will be in my late fall, right before winter, just before darkness covers the season of transformation – a season in which some things will die and new life will be re-born out of their death, out of my death.
So this is it, then, this is the time to reflect on this life and this year.
It’s fall. And as I light my first candle of this season, take a hot bath, and all of a sudden find my bed cozier than ever, I look at this year - at my successes and failures, my travels, my new and old friends, and I realize that there is only one question to ask:
Did I love enough?
Knowing that the answer will likely never be “yes”, I am glad that there are six weeks left before the end of 2009.
I know I can love more, I know many of us can. May our breath in the cold air these mornings remind us that we are all on borrowed time, and that the one question at the end of the day will be the same. . . for all of us.
What am I motivated by – my desire for love, or my experience of love?
It’s so easy in this world of melting glaciers, loss of habitat, environmental decline and human aggression to be motivated by our desire for love – by our desire for a healthy planet, a loving relationship, a world full of respect and dignity in which everyone and everything thrives.
Yet, when we are motivated by our desire for love, that world exists only in our imagination, somewhere in the future. It will always exist there, in the future, not yet to be had. It will always be out of reach in our lifelong pursuit to create it. I am almost certain that world will actually never come.
When we stop and realize the beauty of this life and the truth that surrounds us, the amazing full moon last night, the kindness of most people, the fear in others and our strength to be gentle with it, the magic of serendipity every day in our lives – when we are motivated by love, the work to protect this planet and all life on it still remains, but we carry the world that we desire already with us, wherever we go.
Usually, breathing is referred to as inhale and exhale. But when we relax and pay attention, we’ll find that there is a third part, a space in-between the time of the exhale and the inhale – a pause, a few seconds, a space in time when there is nothing, a moment during which the world inside of us quiets.
That space is my universe. In that space, I know I don’t need to remember to breathe in, my body remembers for me. And I don’t have to control its length, my body knows how long it should be.
In that space, I actually don’t feel that I am breathing, but that I am breathed.
In that space, for a moment, I can stop chasing whatever we chase in life: happiness, money, the train, the kids, the dog, or our own tail. No more chasing – for a moment.
In the space between out-breath and in-breath I reside, and, consciously or not, I am surrendered to something much larger than me.
Instead of chasing the world, I can follow. And by following, I have arrived, manifested in my essence, which is always there, and always has been, to find a language older than words*, to find the letter to myself that was written a long time ago.
And the most amazing thing is that this space, this opportunity, resides in my chest every twelve seconds.
Thank you, to whoever is breathing me.
(“A Language older than Words” – inspired by Derrick Jensen, http://derrickjensen.org)
A month ago, I visited my family in Germany – and gained about eight pounds – in one week!
We all know that it is impossible to argue with your mom about being full, as her love is expressed through food. It has always been expressed this way, from the moment we were born, and even before. How wonderful.
As I am working out daily to shed my new love handles, I am doing so with a new-found appreciation and understanding of that side of my mother.
Just like the great mother, mothers in all shapes and sizes, mothers of all kinds – really, all mothers – provide, and feed, and nourish. That’s what they do, that’s the definition of a mother.
Why would I love the way the Earth nourishes me, and not the way my mother does, by keep serving me food?
It seems that I have a choice to say no to the Earth Mother, but not to my mom, who gets upset when I decline the fourth serving – but I wonder if that’s really true.
Mother Earth gets just as upset when I say no to her, when I suppress her natural ability and desire to nourish, when I put my rules on her, when I ignore her expression, and when I don’t appreciate the incredible gift of having a mother in my life.
So I will still need to find a way next time I go not to gain weight, but at the same time fully embrace my mom’s expression of her love to me – even when it comes in endless servings.
Or maybe, I will just say next time after my trip, that in one week in Germany, I gained eight pounds – eight pounds of love.
A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine about the non-profit world. He had been working 80-hour weeks, for months, after the California state budget freeze to get his non-profit through the difficult economic times and simply because there was so much to do.
He said that the worst thing about the last months, however, was not the financial crunch, but the exhaustion he felt and the anger he put on all his colleagues and friends during that time.
I know I’ve done it too. In the name of nature and with the environmental crisis in our faces every day, it is easy to justify over-working. But how ironic, that while I am trying to create a better, more just, healthy, and fair world for everyone – a world in which we want our children to be happy and safe ever after – I am a source of stress and unhappiness myself.
My friend said that he believes now that the meals on the fly as we are creating a healthier food system, the endless work hours as we are striving for true sustainability, and what ever else we do to our bodies and environments in the wake of our burn-out, is simply another form of violence, a hidden one, silently accepted and justified by the “importance of our work.”
Yes our work is critical, and important, and while there is never enough money, never enough time to get all the things done that we must achieve in life, never a time without obstacles, and challenges and heartbreak, I, from now on, will make an extra joyous commitment to putting my effort into effortlessness – to remember that everything is vibration and that the world around us is a reflection of our internal vibration – and that at the end of the day, us “being” is so much more important than us “doing.”
Last weekend, I stopped at a tiny non-descript lemonade stand in my home town. The owner of the stand was a six-year-old girl named Lucy. “50 cents a glass,” she said, “or two for a dollar – and then you get a third one as a gift.”
I was confused, and said, “So, then it’s three for a dollar, right?”
But she insisted and said, slightly annoyed with me as if I had made fun of her or was not getting her point, “No, it’s two for a dollar. And then you get another one as a gift!”
I gave in and said, “Okay, I’ll take two for a dollar.”
I sipped my lemonade and it was hands-down the best lemonade I have ever had – and Lucy knew it. The amount of freckles she had on her face represented the amount of summer that she had put into her lemonade. It was delicious, rich in ripe meyer lemons, a tad of cane sugar, and maybe a hint of maple syrup, and lot’s of love – pungent, not too sweet, not too sour, just perfect.
The lemonade was so good that for a moment I forgot her initial offer.
As I was saying thank you and turning around to walk away, she held up another cup and said with a big smile, “Mister – and this one here, is for you – from me.”
I got it. I was reminded of the power and beauty of keeping a deal a deal in this world of “Three for Two’s” and “Buy-One-Get-One-Free” – and then truly receiving a gift in addition.
Lucy was six and already knew the difference. Good for her.