April 28, 2000


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Florida Grapefruit

A Refreshing Twist to Any Meal

To many people, the fresh taste of grapefruit as a culinary staple extends only to drinks and a few familiar dishes. In reality, it is a far more versatile fruit than many know. In fact, cooks in cultures all over the world have found limitless opportunities to incorporate the sweet, fragrant fruit and juice into creative meal ideas.

But beyond good taste, research indicates that citrus, particularly grapefruit, is packed full of nutritional value, providing numerous all-natural, disease-fighting nutrients. As nutrition supplements become more commonplace on grocery shelves, it's important to note that many key vitamins and minerals necessary for proper health can be found in all-natural, easily accessible and reasonably priced foods like grapefruit.

The "Savory Chicken Saute" not only includes the refreshing taste of grapefruit, which will make the dish a favorite, but it also packs the meal with nutritional value. The fruit contains no sodium or cholesterol. An excellent source of fiber, grapefruit also is high in vitamin C, an important antioxidant, and contains vitamin A, folate and potassium. A whole Florida grapefruit has more dietary fiber (twelve grams) than a majority of the top 20 most consumed fruits, including apples, bananas and strawberries. A diet high in fruits and vegetables containing dietary fiber also may help support healthy cholesterol levels and may help reduce the risk of some cancers.

Grapefruit is the first fresh produce item to receive the American Heart Association's heart-check mark, which helps consumers quickly identify foods that, when included as part of an overall healthy diet, may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Eating grapefruit also is one of the best ways to fortify your diet with vitamin C. Scientists have learned that this powerful antioxidant helps to neutralize the activity of highly unstable molecules of oxygen called "free radicals," which can damage cells, lead to aging and may contribute to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. Additionally, vitamin C is essential for healthy skin and gums.

The health benefits extend beyond the fruit itself. Eating grapefruit also boosts the nutritional value of other foods, specifically those high in iron. Young women, female athletes and some vegetarians are particularly susceptible to iron deficiencies. One way to offset this risk is by adding grapefruit to the diet.

Consuming a grapefruit or a glass of grapefruit juice prior to or during a meal provides vitamin C that converts iron contained in nonmeat foods, such as spinach, to a form that is easy for the body to absorb-helping to raise blood iron levels. Pump up iron levels by eating the "Fresh Spinach & Grapefruit Salad," which contains the crucial combination of spinach and grapefruit.

With the Florida grapefruit season spanning October to June, now is the perfect time to find delicious and ripe fruit in the supermarket. The Sunshine State is the world's largest producer of fresh grapefruit, which is not surprising, considering Florida's unique sandy soil and subtropical climate provide ideal growing conditions.

The fresh taste of citrus adds character, texture and unmistakable zest to every meal. Natural health benefits found in grapefruit are an exceptional way to increase the nutrition intake of the entire family.

 

Savory Chicken Sauté
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Cooking time: 15 minutes.
2 cups quick-cooking brown rice
2 cups assorted cut salad bar vegetables, such as broccoli florets, shredded carrots, diced bell peppers and zucchini squash
4 (4 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup low-sodium canned chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 Medium Florida Grapefruit, peeled, cut crosswise in half and separated out into sections

Prepare rice according to package directions stirring in vegetables during last 5 minutes of cooking.

Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with rosemary, salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Turn chicken, stir onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate; set aside. Combine broth and cornstarch; mix well. Add to skillet; cook and stir until sauce thickens. Stir in marmalade; add grapefruit and mix well. Return chicken to skillet, turning to coat with sauce.

Transfer rice and vegetable mixture to four serving plates. Spoon chicken, grapefruit and sauce mixture over rice.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 493 (16% from fat), Fat: 9g, Protein: 29g, Carbohydrates: 78g, Fiber: 10g, Cholesterol: 66mg, Iron: 1mg, Sodium: 716mg, Calcium: 63mg

 

Fresh Spinach and Grapefruit Salad
Prep time: 15 minutes.
1 package (10 ounces) washed spinach leaves, stemmed, torn
2 medium Florida Grapefruit, peeled, cut crosswise in half and separated out into sections
1 red bell pepper, cut into short, thin strips
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup light honey-dijon or Italian salad dressing
1/4 cup low-fat bacon bits
1/4 cup fat-free seasoned croutons

In a large bowl, combine spinach, grapefruit sections, bell pepper strips and green onions. Add dressing; toss well. Transfer mixture to four serving plates. Sprinkle with bacon bits and croutons.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 147 (17% from fat), Fat: 3g, Protein: 6g, Carbohydrates: 28g, Fiber: 9g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Iron: 2mg, Sodium: 364mg, Calcium: 100mg

 

Variation:

Fresh Spinach, Chicken and Grapefruit Salad

Brush 2 tablespoons of additional dressing over four (4 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken halves. Grill over medium coals or broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat source for 5 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through. Cut grilled chicken crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Prepare spinach and grapefruit salad as recipe directs. Arrange chicken over salad.

Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 282 (21% from fat), Fat: 7g, Protein: 29g, Carbohydrates: 28g, Fiber: 9g, Cholesterol: 63mg, Iron: 3mg, Sodium: 502mg, Calcium: 111mg

 

Super-Charged Breakfast
Prep time: 8 minutes.
1 medium Florida Grapefruit, peeled, cut crosswise in half and separated out into sections
1/2 cup sliced strawberries, raspberries or blueberries
1 small banana, sliced
1 tablespoon honey combined with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup low-fat granola cereal
1/2 strawberry, raspberry or vanilla nonfat yogurt (optional)

Divide fruit between two cereal bowls; drizzle with honey mixture. Top with granola and, if desired, yogurt.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving with optional ingredients: Calories: 243 (4% from fat), Fat: 1g, Protein: 5g, Carbohydrates: 58g, Fiber: 9g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Iron: 1mg, Sodium: 57mg, Calcium: 28mg

 

Selection Tips

When shopping for grapefruit, here are a few tips to consider:

¨ Sweetness comes in all colors. The interior color of Florida grapefruit varies-from red to pink to white-and it is important to realize that each variety can be equally sweet and delicious. Therefore, the grapefruit's interior color is not an indication of its sweetness or its ripeness.

¨ Always select grapefruit that feels firm and is heavy for its size. This is an indication of the grapefruit's juiciness.

¨ Grapefruit does not ripen further after picking. When grapefruit arrives at the supermarket, it is always ripe and ready to eat. Marks on the peel are normal for Florida-grown fruit.

 

Florida Grapefruit Varieties

Flame

Flame Grapefruit was first introduced in Florida in 1987 and have gained popularity for their mild, sweet flavor.

Flame Grapefruit are excellent for juicing. The fruit's rind is smooth and yellow with blush pigmentation, while the seedless interior holds an exceptionally intense dark red color. Flame Grapefruit are in season from late October to April.

Ruby Red

Ruby Red Grapefruit is the most widely grown variety in Florida.

This variety is used extensively in the juice and cocktail juice markets. Ruby Reds are known for their sweet flavor.

This seedless variety possesses a smooth, yellow rind with a blush pigmentation and has a lighter red interior color. Ruby Red Grapefruit are in season from October to June.

Marsh White

Marsh White Grapefruit has a robust juicy sweetness with a tangier taste than other varieties. It makes a refreshing light-colored juice. The seedless fruit is light to medium yellow color, with a smooth rind and thicker peel than other varieties. Marsh White Grapefruit also are in season from October to June, but become sweeter later in the season.

 

Grapefruit Topper Ideas

To add a little variety to your breakfast, try these grapefruit topper ideas:

1) Granola and dried cranberries combined with a little orange marmalade

2) A drizzle of honey

3) Brown sugar and a dash of nutmeg

4) One teaspoon brown sugar combined with 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

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