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Citrus: Vitamin C for the dreary days ahead

Add citrus to any winter meal to add a summer twist.

U.S. produced oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, lemons and limes hit the grocery shelves during the winter months. It's the perfect time to take advantage of their ripe, tangy tastes and nutritional benefits.

Early explorers not only discovered the New World, but also the value of vitamin C found in citrus when many crew members died from scurvy. The vitamin C deficiency caused a breakdown of the cellular structure in their bodies. They didn't know that vitamin C promotes anti-oxidantactivity, collagen synthesis, cardiovascular system functions, and the immune system functions. In 1747, British naval physician James Lind started prescribing citrus fruit to seamen to prevent scurvy. However, it was not until 1932 that the structure of vitamin C was actually discovered and defined.

Get your daily quota of vitamin C by starting your day with a glass of OJ or honey-lemon iced sparkling water for a perky pick-me-up. Or, mash some fresh grapefruit segments and juice into your guacamole at dinner. But don't stop there; there are many other reasons to eat citrus fruits.

Remember the grapefruit diet? Research shows it actually does aid weight reduction while also lowering bad LDL cholesterol at the same time. Oranges help prevent nausea and improve memory and digestion, and their scent is known to reduce stress and anxiety. All citrus fruits are high in fiber, low on the glycemic index, high in potassium, promote iron absorption, and help you stay hydrated.

A Sunkist® S'alternative® study with chefs at Johnson & Wales University suggested the use of Sunkist® lemons may allow for significant salt reduction in recipes while boosting flavor. In many recipes from meat dishes to soups, salt was replaced in part or entirely by Sunkist lemon juice and/or zest, thus creating low-sodium, heart-healthy meals.

Much research has shown how valuable citrus fruits are to our diet. All we have to do is eat them on a regular basis to stay healthy.

Valencia Orange Beef & Broccoli

Serve this dish with steamed rice and garnish with sliced fresh green onion. Try adding in sliced water chestnuts for a touch of crunch. View many other recipes featuring citrus at Sunkist.com.

Yield: 4 servings

1/2 C. hoisin sauce

1 Sunkist® Valencia orange, zested and juiced

1 bunch broccoli (about 4 cups)

1 pound thinly sliced stir-fry meat (beef top sirloin or round steak)

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. canola oil

2 tsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. minced ginger

In a small bowl combine hoisin sauce, freshly squeezed Sunkist® Valencia orange juice and freshly grated zest. Set aside.

Cut broccoli into large florets, including some stem. In a microwavable container with a lid, microwave broccoli for 2 to 3 minutes until just tender.

Pat beef dry and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with cornstarch and toss together to coat well.

Heat canola oil in a large nonstick pan over high heat until very hot. Add beef and quickly cook, turning with a spatula, for about 1 minute.

Add garlic and ginger and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Add broccoli and reserved freshly squeezed orange juice mixture. Cook for about 1 more minute, or until sauce thickens and coats beef nicely.

*Photography and recipe courtesy of Sunkist Growers

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