A day of Citrus

By: Tory Stroker, Dietetic Intern

As cold and flu season sweeps across our nation, this is the best time to discuss the benefits of adding citrus into one’s diet. Citrus is at its peak freshness in the winter, and with its immune boosting Vitamin C properties it can help to keep us stay healthy and free of the flu.

Exploring the varieties, nutritional benefits, cooking techniques and tastes of citrus, I set out to implement citrus into two different workshops with different populations.

With CARE, a group of older adults living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia, I led the group through a 5 Senses Workshop revolving around citrus fruits. With 6 varieties of citrus (ruby grapefruit, white grapefruit, navel orange, tangerine, lemon and lime) we used our 5 senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch) to get to know these fruits better. We described the color, weight and texture of the whole fruits, the smell of the zest, and of course, tasted each fruit, while describing and rating our favorites.

In a later Cooking Workshop with older adults at The Innovate Senior Center, I led the group through making an Orange Wheatberry Salad with Cashews, Raisins and Green Onion. This sunny salad was received with great accolades and will be a welcome addition to winter eating.

Given 1 cup of oranges boasts 98% daily value of Vitamin C, the participants of my citrus workshops at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House will be saying ‘NO’ to the flu this season! 

 

Orange Wheatberry Salad

Adapted from Cookie and Kate
Yield: 6 side servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces wheatberries
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup pitted olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup raisins, preferably golden
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (from 1 to 2 oranges)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or other vinegar)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add wheatberries to a pot, with 3x the amount of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer the pot with the lid on for about 1 hour until the wheatberries are tender. Before draining, reserve roughly 1/2 cup cooking water. Drain well.
  2. Toast the almonds in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and turning golden on the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a cutting board and chop them.
  3. In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked wheatberries, chopped almonds, parsley, olives, green onion, raisins, and feta (if using).
  4. In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine the orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and salt. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water, and whisk until blended.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. It might seem like too much dressing at first, but don’t worry. Season with pepper, to taste.
  6. Let the wheatberry salad rest for at least 10 minutes (or up to several hours in the refrigerator) so it has time to soak up the dressing. Season to taste with additional salt, if necessary, and serve. Leftovers will keep well in the refrigerator for up to four days.