Perfect Spring Citrus

oranges

As we begin to move away from cold weather and warm comfort foods into outdoor activities and sunshine, at the top of many minds - and grocery lists - are fresh fruit and summer salads. These refreshing foods are often associated with backyard BBQs, family gatherings, and happiness, but did you know one key element in many of these foods not only adds bright flavors but also packs an incredible boost for the immune system? 

Vitamin C is 1 of 13 essential vitamins and its benefits are long:

-Lowering the incidence of

  • certain cancers, as well as supplementation during cancer treatment (check with healthcare providers before adding supplementation to any regimen, as certain supplements may interact with prescribed medications)
  • cardiovascular disease
  • age-related macular degeneration & cataracts
  • common cold

*Vitamin C has been studied over the past year in association with COVID-19. According to the European Society on Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ESPEN), one of the leading nutrition sources in the world, “…Vitamin C… should be considered in the assessment of micronutrients in COVID-19 patients.  While it is important to prevent and treat micronutrient deficiencies, there
is not established evidence that routine [high dose] use of micronutrients may prevent or improve clinical outcomes of
COVID-19.” Bottom line: get your fill each day, but there is no need to invest stock in OJ companies anytime soon.

-Increasing health status during the life cycle

  • fertility
  • pregnancy & lactation
  • wound healing at any age
  • early adulthood (ages 19-50) for males, compared with females

So what are some ways to make sure we’re eating enough foods high in Vitamin C, not only in warm temperatures but year-round?

  • Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit), red and green bell peppers, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, baked potatoes, tomatoes
  • Include these fresh or frozen foods in a variety of recipes
  • Some foods and drinks are fortified with Vitamin C, which can be found on food labels

**A deficiency in this vitamin causes scurvy, which is now rare in the US & Canada but can still be found in developing parts of the world.   Signs of scurvy include fatigue & depression, inflammation or bleeding of the gums, joint pain, poor wound healing, and corkscrew hairs.  If you are concerned about your Vitamin C intake, please contact a local Registered Dietitian for nutrition counseling.  Within the SwedishAmerican Health System, RDs can be located on the 7th floor of Camelot Tower.

 

Summertime Strawberry Smoothie (adapted from www.californiastrawberries.com)

Makes: 2 smoothies      
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cups strawberries(fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 medium banana

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth
  • Pour into two tall glasses.  Top with 2 tablespoons granola (optional)

 

Roasted or Grilled Potatoes & Peppers (adapted from www.tasteofhome.com)

Makes: 8 servings           
Total Time: 10 minutes (prep), 40 minutes (bake)

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • Cooking oil
  • Spices to coat (garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano are some personal favorites)

Instructions:

  • On a large baking sheet, combine all prepared veggies.  Drizzle with olive or avocado oil, sprinkle seasonings, and toss to coat.
  • Bake at 400* for 40-45 minutes or until potatoes are tender & easily punctured with a fork, stirring occasionally.