Celebrating the holiday season with citrus has been a long-standing tradition in my family. I spent my school-age years in sunny Arizona where my family wasn’t wishing for a white Christmas but rather dreaming up yet another way to use up the ripe fruit that was dropping off our backyard trees. Grapefruit, navel oranges, lemons, limes – we had it all, and a lot of it! Sometimes my brother and I would take shopping bags teeming with tangerines and ding-dong ditch the neighbors with our citrusy surprise. And, guess what Santa always put in the bottom of my stocking? A big, juicy orange. As a kid, I usually wasn’t too happy about that orange taking up precious real estate in my stocking and would usually just let it wither up into a rotten mess. But now that I am older, wiser and don’t have an orchard at an arm’s length, I would sure welcome this zesty holiday gesture.
Healthy holidays are happy holidays in my book and I’m always serving up some form of citrus or another to keep my family well. Citrus fruits are high in immunity-boosting vitamin C and help the body produce higher levels of antibodies and white blood cells to fight off sickness and disease. Thanks to the flavonoids, fiber and other healthful properties of citrus, these fruits have also been linked to lower rates of cancer, stroke, obesity, heart disease and more. Additionally, citrus fruit may lessen your anxiety and lift you mood without even taking a single bite - research has shown that the scent of citrus increases levels of nerepinephrin, a hormone that affects mood.
Giving a basket of fruit is always in good taste and makes a thoughtful gesture sure to be enjoyed with your sweet sentiments in mind. Fill a basket with all types of citrus fruit including oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, kumquats, pomelos and any other exotic citrus found at your nearest specialty market. Or, put your DIY skills to use and make a citrus-inspired gift like a clove-studded orange, some homemade marmalade or a pretty bottle of lemon-lime vinegar.
If the health and gifting powers of citrus don’t convince you to grab a grapefruit or love a lime this holiday season, then my recipe for Citrus and Feta Salad with Pomegranate Blueberry Vinaigrette certainly will! This beautiful salad is made with several types of sweet and sour citrus that is balanced by the saltiness of Litehouse Food’s Feta Crumbles – pomegranate arils, mint and Pomegranate Blueberry Vinaigrette pull this showy side dish together. If you need a little something to take as a culinary contribution to a holiday event, this appealing recipe is quick, easy and collects compliments galore.