Everybody seems to be looking for ways to consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables on their daily menus. Some ways are easy—grab an apple, choose a green salad for lunch, pile a sandwich with tomatoes, onions, and coleslaw, etc.
Sometimes, though, especially when your favorite fresh fruit isn’t in season, it may seem difficult for some individuals to include so many fruit and veggie servings. That’s when citrus comes in. Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are usually available throughout the year. Tangerines, clementines, pummelo (Asian grapefruit), Oro Blanco grapefruit, kumquats, and Moro oranges (with deep red interiors) are seasonal additions to the citrus menu. When fresh citrus isn’t available, look to frozen orange and grapefruit concentrates.
Citrus is extremely versatile. Here are some ways to include citrus (and additional servings of fruit) in your menu:
Use citrus as part of your cooking liquid. When you’re preparing carrots in the microwave, add a squeeze or a short pour of orange or grapefruit juice. When reheating rice, add a squeeze of lemon juice. A small amount of orange juice added to the cooking water gives oatmeal and other hot breakfast cereals a mild citrus flavor.
Use citrus instead of salt. Citrus juice works in the same way as salt on your taste buds. Instead of cooking with salt or adding salt to your food while you are eating, try several squeezes of lemon. Also, try lime juice to add flavor and savor. You’ll be getting two for the price of one—cutting down on salt and adding more fruit! If fresh lemons or limes are not available, choose frozen versions, as they are less processed than bottled or canned juices and retain more nutrients.
Just before serving, squeeze some citrus juice onto cooked or fresh vegetables, green salads, and roasted, baked, steamed, or boiled potatoes. Citrus juice can turn cooked green vegetables an off-color. This does not affect the flavor or the nutrients, but you still want to squeeze the citrus on right before eating so the greens retain their color.
To make squeezing citrus easy and fast, squeeze fresh citrus juice into a small spray bottle and keep it refrigerated.
Use fresh or frozen citrus juice or freshly squeezed citrus as a marinade for tougher vegetables such as parsnips, turnips, or cauliflower, for extra firm tofu or seitan, or for mushrooms. Mix orange or grapefruit juice with your favorite herbs and spices (such as black pepper, granulated garlic, fresh onion or onion powder, minced fresh ginger or powdered ginger, chopped fresh or dried parsley, or a commercial spice mix) in a plastic or glass bowl. (Metal or wood containers will react with the citrus.) Toss in chopped vegetables or tofu, seitan, or tempeh, and refrigerate mixture overnight. When you are ready, you can bake, microwave, or steam the veggies or meat alternatives together with the marinade.
If you don’t have juice, just slice leftover citrus, such as pink grapefruit, oranges, or tangerines, into a bowl, and proceed as described above.
Use orange or grapefruit concentrate as a base for salad dressing. Mix approximately two Tablespoons of concentrate with one Tablespoon of vinegar. Taste and mix in orange juice until you have the taste you like. You can add a drop or two of canola oil or olive oil, both of which have mild flavors, and a sprinkling of black pepper. If berries are in season, mash some of them into the dressing. You can also mince fresh citrus, such as tangerines, pink grapefruit, limes, or oranges, and add these to the salad dressing. This is a refreshing way to spruce up green salads, fruit salads, sliced melon, fresh vegetables sticks, and even rice or pasta salads.
If you need to whip up a fast, festive dessert, bake a cake and let it cool, or save time and buy a round un-iced vegan layer cake or cupcakes. Peel oranges and slice them super thin. Dip each slice into maple syrup. Allow slices to dry on waxed paper for about five minutes, and then arrange, overlapping, on the cake or cupcakes.
Add a squeeze of lemon or other citrus to sparkling water, seltzer, lemonade, sweet juices (such as grape juice), or hot or cold tea. Or squeeze lemon, lime, and pink grapefruit juice into ice cube trays. Use your citrus cubes in hot or cold beverages or in cooking vegetables and grains.
If you make yourself a smoothie, think about making the liquid half soy, rice, or almond milk and the other half orange or tangerine juice. If citrus juice isn’t available, use a teaspoon or so of orange juice concentrate per one cup of milk. Toss chunks of peeled citrus, such as limes, oranges, or grapefruit, into the blender to add a citrus tang to your smoothie.
Make your own vegan sherbet. Blend orange juice with vanilla soy or rice milk (approximately 1/3 cup milk to 2/3 cup juice) and add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice. If you need additional flavor or sweetness, add a small amount of orange juice concentrate. Freeze in ice cube trays or in individual containers.
And there are still other ways to incorporate citrus into your daily menu if you just keep one or two extra pieces of citrus fruit on hand. Peel and slice the fruit and add it to green or spinach salads—oranges and tangerines go well. Add citrus to cooked veggies; oranges and sweet pink grapefruit go well with green beans, baked sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, kale, or spinach. Add grapefruit to pasta salads, and for salsas, small pieces of lime, lemon, and grapefruit add great flavor and texture.
The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone who wishes to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.
Thanks to volunteer Stephanie Schueler for converting this article to HTML.
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