Imagine you're strolling along the fruit aisle in the supermarket. You come across a vast display of oranges and mindlessly pick a few and bag them, thinking they are all the same. Never judge an orange by its peel! From the outside, the blood orange—cousin of the Florida orange—may fool you into thinking it's just like any other orange. But once you peel away the rind, you'll discover the uniquely-colored pulp, which ranges from a deep orange speckled with red to a solid crimson, which is almost the color of blood (hence the name).
Blood oranges' distinctive maroon color is due to the antioxidant anthocyanin. Antioxidants may help prevent cancer and heart disease, but anthocyanins, specifically, help lower LDL cholesterol (that's the lousy kind) and keep blood vessels flexible and strong. (Perhaps the name "blood" orange is a double entendre.) The pulp of these oranges is also high in fiber, which keeps the digestive tract in tip-top shape and helps prevent constipation. Blood oranges are a good source of the B vitamin folate, which is essential to the healthy development of a fetus and to slowed aging of the brain.
And of course, we can't talk about oranges without mentioning vitamin C. This is another antioxidant that's key for healing and repairing damaged tissue throughout the body, absorbing iron, and of course, boosting your immune system. Lucky for you, flu season and blood orange season overlap. With one blood orange containing more than 100 percent of your daily dose, I say start peeling!
Here are three different ways to try this unique fruit:
Shrimp Salad with Blood Oranges and Fennel (Serves 4)
For the dressing:
● 1 blood orange (~1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice)
● 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
● 1 tablespoon olive oil
● 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
● 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the salad:
● 16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
● 1 teaspoon olive oil
● 1/4 teaspoon salt
● Cooking spray (olive oil in misto sprayer)
● 3 blood oranges, peeled and cut into thin slices
● 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1. Combine blood orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl and whisk together until mixed.
2. Toss shrimp with olive oil and salt in a bowl.
3. Spray pan with oil and saute shrimp until done.
4. Toss orange slices, fennel and shrimp with dressing and serve.
Blood Orange Mimosas (Serves 4)
● 2 to 4 oranges (squeezed to make 1 cup fresh blood orange juice)
● 2 cups champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
● 1 tablespoon Cointreau
1. Strain juice through a sieve into a pitcher.
2. Add remaining ingredients.
3. Serve and toast!
Blood Orange and Sugar Body Scrub ("Serves" 4)
● 2 tablespoons olive oil
● ½ cup raw sugar
● 1 teaspoon fresh blood orange juice (or more or less depending on what you like)
● ¼ cup coffee grounds from a freshly brewed pot
1. Mix everything together in a large bowl.
2. Apply right away or pop into the fridge for a cooled scrub for later!
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Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City, and Nutritious Life Meals, a gourmet, healthy, daily diet delivery program available across the country. She is a member of Women's Health Magazine's advisory board and has authored Slim Calm Sexy Diet, The O2 Diet, and The Snack Factor Diet. Her fourth book, The New You and Improved Diet, will be released in December. Her expertise is regularly featured on the Today show, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood Live, among others, and she hosts "A Little Bit Better" on YouTube's Livestrong Woman channel. Read more of Keri's tips every day on Facebook!