When I was a little girl in Alaska, a box of tangerines was a big deal. Each piece was individually wrapped in tissue paper with some special few—for no apparent reason— wrapped in red, green, blue, or gold foil. My sister and I fought over those special tangerines until we figured out we could just reuse the colored wrapping.
Sweet and tart, citrus fruits are at their height this month and next. The many varieties of oranges and tangerines are great sources of vitamin C and potassium. Many studies show that a high potassium diet protects against high blood pressure in people without kidney disease.
Buy tangerines by the bag and keep them ready for snacking. Stick them in your bag for lunch, in your pocket when you walk the dog and in a bowl on your kitchen counter. Try wrapping a few in colored foil!
My favorite ways to serve citrus fruits are to cut them into wedges with the peel on or to supreme them. Supreming, or sectioning, means peeling off the tough membrane of the fruit. Do this before adding oranges to salads or desserts, as they are easier to eat.
To supreme an orange, cut about half an inch off the top and bottom, and then cut the peel and pith away from the fruit with a sharp knife. Once the peel is off, slide a knife between each section and the white membrane that divides it from the next.
Orange and Beet Salad
1–2 oranges, supremed
2–3 cooked or canned beets
2 ounces goat cheese
2–3 tablespoons vinegar
⅓ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil, mint or parsley, finely cut
½ cup roasted or candied pecans or walnuts
If you are using fresh beets, put in a bowl, cover and microwave for 5–10 minutes, until beets are tender to a fork. Put in cool water to speed up cooling and then slice. If using canned beets, drain and then slice. Toss beets with fresh herbs, vinegar and oil. Supreme oranges, layer on top of beets and sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese. Sprinkle nuts on top right before serving, so they don’t get soggy.
Calories: 261, Carbohydrates: 10 grams, Protein: 4 grams, Sodium: 62 milligrams
Orange Glazed Chicken
1 tablespoon oil
2 chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon flour
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger or ⅛ teaspoon dried
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Zest from 2 tangerines
4 tangerines or 1½ cups canned mandarin oranges
½ cup water or low-sodium chicken broth
Peel tangerines. Puree two of them in blender or food processor, or chop very fine with a knife. Heat oil in a large, nonstick frying pan, and brown chicken breasts on both sides. Remove chicken and set aside. Blend flour, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon together and add mixture to hot oil. Whisk mixture together into a smooth paste. Gradually add pureed tangerines to pan, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 2–3 minutes. Add ½ cup water or chicken stock and stir until smooth. Return chicken to pan and cook on low heat for 30 minutes or until chicken is tender or fully cooked. Add more water or broth if sauce is too thick. At end of cooking time, add rest of tangerine slices. Heat until warm and serve.
Calories: 282, Carbohydrates: 24 grams, Protein: 25 grams, Sodium: 75 milligrams
The information in this column is meant for people who want to keep their kidneys healthy and blood pressure down by following a low-sodium diet. In most cases, except for dialysis patients, a diet high in potassium is thought to help lower high blood pressure. These recipes are not intended for people on dialysis without the supervision of a registered dietitian.
Contributor Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. A recipient of the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award from the National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition, she has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. See more of her recipes at www.nwkidney.org.