Citrus season is in full swing in California. Local markets are filled with an abundant array of varietals, from juicy tangelos—don’t you just love the ring of it? To sweet ruby reds and blood colored oranges. On a cold winter’s day, walking through the citrus aisle warms the heart like a gorgeous sunset. The vibrant colors and invigorating scents activate the sluggish winter mind, while their sour taste activates digestion.
As energizing as citrus fruits are, they are also heavy. All that juicy goodness, may be hydrating, but water can be weighing. Lucky for us, Mother Nature provides a little balance through the bitter pith and membranes. Bitter, one of the six taste in Ayurveda, is naturally detoxifying. In eating citrus with the membranes retained, the intended balanced nutrients are received—sweet with a little sour and bitter. In comparison to citrus juice, which can reduce fiber content and the bitter, detoxifying element. Juice also increases the serving portion from one piece of fruit to perhaps three or four. Something to consider, when sugar intake is of concern. Citrus fruits also warm the body internally. This along with their colors, scents and tastes makes citrus vata pacifying. In other words, purrrfect for the winter season!
Fruit, per the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda is recommended to be eaten alone—as a snack between meals. This is due to it’s short digestion period, about an hour. Digestion, being the central focus related to most everything in Ayurveda, determines many of it’s recommendations. Including defining healthy based on the individual’s ability to digest. Fruit, is healthy. The quantity, the quality, when and how digestible it is for an individual—is when healthy becomes questionable. In general, eating seasonal fruit in moderation between meals is a healthier choice.
Sometimes eating citrus requires a little more effort than opting for a banana, an apple or even a cookie. The thought of having to peel, cut, or even get juiced-on, can make an orange or grapefruit a less appealing and a little more time consuming choice. I’ve found keeping a plate of sliced citrus lingering around as a nice way to get my dose of vitamin c. When fruit is ready for my fingers to grab, they tend to be more tempted. It also just looks pretty, especially on those winter days where you need to create your own sunshine.
In Ayurveda, they say physical digestion begins prior to the first bite. Pleasing the eyes and nose starts the flow of digestive enzymes. Have you noticed feeling hungry after seeing and smelling something delicious? This is digestion being ignited—mentally and physically, the body is ready to receive. Enticing the sense of sight and smell are integral to Ayurvedic cooking. Vibrant colors and alluring aromas are like another set of ingredients and considered part of the final dish.
With this in mind, I was inspired to create a platter of citrus for snack time. Something that was quick, easy and had a little something, something for a little ooo-la-la! Including clean-up, it took less than 15 minutes to slice sun-rings, half-moons and golden triangles. Then arrange them on the plate with a little spice for a touch of the extraordinary. I am a sucker for presentation and spice! And so were my friends who left with their fingers scented with a little citrus therapy. Who says cooking (or arranging in this case) with intention has to be complicated?! Happy eating, happy digesting.
Rose-Mary Citrus Deliciousness—Sunshine on a Plate
servings: 4-8 | time: 15mins
Tastes: Sweet, Sour Salty, Pungent, Astringent, Bitter
What you need: a knife
– An array of citrus (I used cara cara, navel and blood oranges, tangelos, ruby red and melogold grapefruits)
– sprinkle of rosewater
– 1/8 tsp finely chopped or ground rosemary
– dash of mineral rich salt
– finely ground fresh pepper
1. Slice citrus in rings, half rings and quarter rings and remove any seeds. If you are using tangerines, cut them in half or quarters. Save the ends if you want to dehydrate the peel, its great for desserts or for herbal teas (see below)
2. Arrange on a plate or platter and layer slices on top of each other—alternate the colors for a little shading effect.
3. Sprinkle a touch of rose or orange blossom water (a little goes a long way). You can either pour a little in your hand or into a teaspoon to help spread it across the plate
4. Dust the remaining ingredients and serve.
Alternative toppings: a sprinkle of ginger powder and/or drizzle of your favorite honey.
Notes: I saved the ends of my oranges and grapefruits to dehydrate them for teas. It’s really simple, but it does take some time. I sliced them up a bit and put them in 200F oven for about 3 hours on a cookie sheet. Then stored them in an airtight container.