Cooking: Eat and drink smart to fend off cold and flu season

(Family Features) It’s no secret that a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies can deliver important vitamins and nutrients for better health, but many of your favorite foods can actually help support your immune system, too.

In addition to precautions like avoiding people who are sick and washing your hands often, you can influence your immune system through what you eat and drink.

Stay hydrated. Keeping well hydrated can be difficult during the winter months, especially if you spend most of your time indoors. A warm drink like this flavorful Orange Spiced Tea provides a strong dose of vitamin C along with a delicious dose of hydration.

Keep the produce going strong. Fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies often come to mind during warmer months, but produce like citrus, leafy greens and root vegetables are plentiful during cold and flu season, too.

“Consuming the whole fruit is the best way to ensure you gain the maximum nutritional benefit,” Dr. Poonam Desai said. “When speaking with patients, I recommend seeking nutrients like vitamin C from whole food sources, rather than supplements, especially with a vitamin C-rich fruit like California oranges.”

Get a natural boost of vitamins. Vitamins A and C, found in fresh citrus, are two key nutrients that support your body’s natural line of defense, your immune system. Just one orange offers 90% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C, and California Navel oranges are in their peak season – just in time for the height of cold and flu season.

Get inspired with more ideas to boost your immune system with essential vitamins and nutrients at californiacitrusgrowers.com.

5 Ways to Get More Vitamin C

  • Pick heavy fruit. When shopping for citrus, choose fruit that smells fresh and feels heavy for its size. The heavier the orange, the juicer it’s likely to be. 
  • Explore versatility. Fresh citrus like California Navel oranges make a nutritious addition to sweet and savory dishes, beverages, cocktails, sauces and more.
  • Use the whole fruit. Reduce food waste by consuming the flesh, juice, zest and peel. Try squeezing juice and grating zest into a smoothie, using orange segments for a vibrant salad or combining diced Navels with red onion, cilantro and jalapenos for a zesty salsa.
  • Retain vitamin C content. Vitamin C is water soluble, so to retain as much as possible, eat citrus fresh, avoid overcooking and use minimal amounts of water.
  • Refrigerate for longer shelf life. Keep your citrus fresh longer by storing it in the refrigerator at a temperature below 42 F. To get the most juice out of the orange, bring it to room temperature before cooking.

Orange Spiced Tea

Recipe courtesy of California Citrus Growers

  • 6          cups water
  • 1          clove cinnamon or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6          tea bags
  • 1          cup California Navel orange juice
  • 1/2       cup white sugar
  • 2          tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1          slice California Navel orange
  1. Bring water and cinnamon to boil; let cinnamon dissolve. Remove from heat and add tea bags; soak at least 5 minutes. Remove tea bags.  
  2. In separate pan, bring orange juice, sugar and lemon juice to boil. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  3. Pour juice mixture into spiced tea.
  4. Garnish with orange slice and serve hot.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Woman eating fruit)

SOURCE:
California Citrus Growers

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