Heather Rockwood is a food science junior and Mustang Daily food columnist.
So what exactly makes up the typical American breakfast? Two eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns, pancakes, cereal, toast, a bagel … it all depends on who you ask, but it is agreed that no breakfast meal is complete without the sweet, tangy and well-loved glass of OJ.
Orange juice is the No. 1 juice consumed by Americans, but the value and benefit of this citrus fruit go far beyond its presence in the juice at the American breakfast table.
The orange originated in China, but it has traveled far and wide to make it into the hands of young and old from almost every country on the map. Today, Brazil is the largest producer of oranges in the world, but both Florida and California are the largest orange producers here in the states.
The warm weather found in these locations is perfect for bringing the fruits into sweet maturity. The two most common varieties found in the U.S. are Navel and Valencia. The Navel variety is typically peeled and eaten out-of-hand, while the Valencia is more commonly used for juicing.
Vitamin C is excellent at boosting the immune system and combating the common cold. Just one orange provides an excellent source of vitamin C — more than 100 percent of your recommended daily value.There are also many phytonutrient compounds found in these citrus fruits, including flavonoids that act as antioxidants to help protect your body’s cells.
The good news for American breakfast drinkers is that the vitamin C found in oranges is better received by our bodies than any vitamin C pill or tablet supplement. This means you can actually enjoy the taste of a cold refreshing glass of orange juice, as well as receive more health benefits than if you substituted the real deal for a pill.
When juicing an orange, there are a few key points to keep in mind. First, you can extract more juice when the orange is warmer. So, if you store your oranges in the fridge, be sure to let them come to room temperature before juicing them. Next, you can roll the orange between your hand and the counter to break apart the segments and release more juice. Lastly, when purchasing oranges, look for ones that are large, firm and heavy for their size — this is an indicator that there is a higher juice content.
The orange is a prime example in which the color of the fruit is not an indicator of quality. Some oranges, if left on the tree long enough, will experience regreening — a natural process in which the chlorophyll pigments return to the fruit and cause a green color to return to the fruit. These fruits might actually be sweeter because of the extra time they were allowed to ripen.
Uniform color found in the skins of oranges is often accomplished through the use of injected dye, and therefore, the color is not a good indicator of quality. Superficial brown streaks seen on some oranges will also not affect the flesh’s flavor. The important factors to look out for in choosing the best oranges at the market are a smooth textured skin free of large pits, an even shape and no soft spots.
Oranges are in the top 20 types of produce to have residual pesticides, so when eating an orange, it is wise to rinse it under running water (even if you plan on peeling it and not using the skin). If zesting an orange, it is important to either lightly wash the peel with soapy water, or choose organic varieties free of pesticides to ensure the safest and best tasting zest.
Whether it’s for your morning juice, your afternoon snack, dinner side dish or late night dessert, be sure to pick up an orange or two this week to amp up your vitamin C and provide a tasty defense. Finals are but a week away, and no one likes a head cold on top of all that studying.
Hint: This red vegetable gets its name from the Greek word meaning “fast appearing.”
Stuffed Citrus Cups
4 oranges, whole
2 oranges, peeled
1 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. fresh thyme
Handful fresh basil, thinly sliced
1 cup couscous
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup toasted nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, almonds)
1/3 cup feta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions (Makes 4 servings):
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of each orange. Scoop out pulp by cutting around the edge of the fruit with a knife and spooning out the flesh and juice; reserve flesh and juice for another use (such as tomorrow morning’s juice). Place orange cups in a square baking pan and set aside.
In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute until soft and translucent. Add dried oregano; cook a minute more. Add couscous and stock. Stir in cranberries, nuts, thyme, basil and orange segments until combined.
Divide mixture into hollowed oranges. Top oranges with their lid and wrap each in foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Unwrap foil, top with feta cheese and serve warm.