LiveBest: Citrus season is here

LiveBest: Citrus season is here

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Besides Jupiter lighting up the night sky, another bright spot about winter is that it’s citrus season. Juicy oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines freshen a cold, winter day.

Lemons, limes, and tangelos are members of this all-star family that help maintain a strong immune system and protect against heart disease and cancer.

When you shop, look for fruit heavy for its size, with bright, colorful skin. Most citrus will keep at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, the crisper drawer of your refrigerator is best. Whole fruit should not be frozen, but the fresh-squeezed juice and grated peel or zest may be. Seal some in a plastic bag and pop it into the freezer for later.

You probably know that citrus is a super source of vitamin C. But did you know that the word “ascorbic,” as in ascorbic acid — the name for vitamin C — means “no scurvy”? While scurvy was a problem for sea goers centuries ago, it’s not much of a problem today.

But C has some another benefit. It enhances iron absorption. Iron is a shortfall nutrient for many of us.

Overall, we don’t absorb iron very well. Iron from animal sources is absorbed two to three times more than from plants. Some compounds, such as oxalic acid in spinach and chocolate, phytic acid in wheat bran and legumes, and tannins in coffee and tea, inhibit plant-based, or non-heme, iron absorption. But eating vitamin C foods and iron-rich foods at the same time help overcome these inhibitors.

Beef, chicken, pork, and eggs are some of the better iron source. The darker the color of the meat, the more iron. So dark chicken meat has more than light meat.

Some of the better plant sources of iron are:

  • Beans and lentils
  • Soybean nuts, tofu
  • Baked potatoes
  • Cashews
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach
  • Wheat bran
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Iron-enriched breads, pasta, and breakfast cereals. You need to drink the milk in your bowl to get the iron because it washes off the flakes and settles at the bottom of the bowl.

Cast-iron cookware adds iron. Acidic foods, tomato juice, orange juice, and vinegar, help dissolve small amounts of iron from the pot into cooking liquids. So use cast iron for simmered foods, such as chili.

Here are six vitamin C-iron combinations:

1. kiwi + enriched bran cereal

2. strawberries + oatmeal

3. bell pepper + bean salad

4. peanut butter sandwich on enriched whole-wheat bread + orange

5. spinach + sirloin steak

6. chicken + broccoli

OK, seven.

One-sheet pan Chicken, Brussels Sprouts and Grapefruit

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trim ends, cut in half

½ red onion, ¼-inch slices

1 grapefruit, peeled, sliced, reserve juice

1 teaspoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

½ pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into ¼-inch slices

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Heat oven and baking sheet to 425°F.

In bowl, combine Brussels sprouts, onion, grapefruit juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. When oven reaches 425°F, carefully pour Brussels sprouts onto hot pan. Spread into single layer. Bake 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir chicken, mustard, honey and soy sauce together. When vegetables have cooked 15 minutes, add chicken to sheet pan. Stir all ingredients and spread into a single layer. Bake 10-15 minutes. Chicken should be 165°F. Add grapefruit, bake 5 minutes.

Recipe Source: Judy Barbe, www.LiveBest.info.

Judy Barbe is a registered dietitian, speaker and author of “Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest: Simple Solutions for Fresh Food & Well-Being.” Visit her website www.LiveBest.info for every day food solutions.

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