Saturday, October 2, 2010

This Post is Brought to You by the Color Orange

Orange foods that is. Orange colored produce is some of the most delicious and nutritious things available for us to eat. I was thinking about this yesterday when I was buying up pumpkins and gourds. There is something so appealing about brightly colored orange fruit and vegetables.

Beta-carotene (which gives that wonderful orange hue) is converted to vitamin A, which is vital to the health of the linings of our essential organ tracts and eyes. These anti-oxidant carotenoids can reduce the risk of certain cancers, reduce the risk of heart disease, boost the immune system, help keep the skin, eyes and bones healthy and can reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. More than being health power houses, orange foods are beautiful, versatile and taste amazing. Here is a list of my favorites and why I love them...
  • Cantaloupe~Summer 2010 offered up the very best cantaloupe I've had in my life. Fragrant, juicy, sweet and a little salty from naturally occurring sodium. I love it paired with savory ham, in salads, for break fast with yogurt and even eaten with a melon baller straight out of the shell.
  • Nectarines and peaches~Sweet, juicy and succulent, a ripe, fragrant Georgia peach is one of life's greatest pleasures. If you've never tried a Saturn or Donut peach, make it your mission to find one next summer.
  • Sweet potatoes/yams~my mother makes this recipe of sweet potatoes and bananas baked with brown sugar and spices that is divine. It's sweet and sticky, like candied yams and marshmallows but more sophisticated. It's a wonderful holiday dish, I must get the recipe from her. But sweet potatoes have so many more applications than just pie and sweet casseroles. I like them baked, or cut in wedges for oven fries and diced into soup. It's even good tossed in the old juicer.
  • Oranges, tangerines and clementines~Nature's candy! I keep a bowl of clementines and/or tangerines on the counter for Rob and myself to grab whenever we want a sweet treat. I keep oranges in the fridge all winter for zest in salad dressing, juice in marinades or segments eaten out of hand.
  • Rutabaga~The white flesh of this root veggie turns a lovely orange blush when cooked. Roasted in the oven, diced in soup or mashed with butter salt and pepper.
  • Orange tomatoes~My tomato crop did poorly this season, but the farmer's market was chock full with the most amazing orange and golden tomatoes. They were even better than the red ones for some reason. Juicy and tangy, so good just sliced and drizzled with a bit of good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Golden beets~So pretty and sweeter and milder in flavor than red beets. They are so good roasted, peeled and sliced in salads. Also great for the juicer, very purifying for the liver.
  • fresh turmeric~I haven't cooked with it yet, but it makes my fresh juice an electric orange color. It's sweet and spicy and has so many health benefits. It's anti-inflammatory (great for the knees) and studies have shown that it can help ward off dementia/Alzheimer's disease.
  • orange bell peppers~I loathe green peppers, I like red and yellow ones but the orange ones are my favorite. They are so pretty and so juicy, crisp and mild, orange bells are my go-to when bell peppers are called for in a recipe.
  • Winter squash and pumpkin~ so many varieties, delicata, acorn, confetti, turban, butternut...the farmer's and supermarkets are starting to stock up with these beauties. Pureed for/diced into soup, roasted in the oven, mashed with butter and warm spices, baked into pie (sweet and savory, try mashed squash as a topper for Shepard's Pie.) So versatile and so tasty. My favorite is acorn cut in half and baked until soft and tender and served with a mixture of sauteed spicy turkey Italian sausage and chopped greens like kale or turnip greens piled into the cavity and served. *drool*

Ahh, Autumn, the perfect time to paint a colorful and delicious dinner plate palette with orange as your centerpiece.

What are your favorite orange fruit/veg and your favorite way to devour them?

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