Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Oranges

You probably know that oranges are an excellent source of the antioxidant Vitamin C (a large orange contains over 150% of the Daily Recommended Intake), but their nutritional benefits don’t stop there.  Oranges are also high in fiber and a good source of folate and potassium.  I usually recommend that participants who are trying to lower their blood pressure consume at least one orange or a glass of 100% orange juice every day, as the potassium in oranges helps lower blood pressure (and reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke) by counteracting sodium in the bloodstream.  Oranges make a great quick and easy snack, but your daily consumption shouldn’t have to end there.  Try using oranges to add flavor and depth to your next meal or side dish, as is the case in the following recipe.

 Orange, Raisin, and Pine Nut Cous Cous

Ingredients
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup diced red onions or shallots
½ cup diced carrots
½ cup dried raisins
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
½ teaspoon freshly ground white or black pepper
10 ounces (or about 1 ¼ cups dry) whole wheat cous cous (Trader Joe’s sells the whole wheat kind – you can find it near the pasta)
1 orange, peeled and segmented
¼ cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint or parsley

 Instructions
1.  Combine the water, olive oil, red onion, carrots, raisins, orange zest, and pepper in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil.  Cover, and cook at a slow simmer for 2 minutes.
2.  Remove saucepan from heat and add in the cous cous.  Let sit for 5 minutes.
3.  Add the orange segments, nuts, and mint or parsley, and fluff the cous cous with a fork.  Serve hot as either a meal or side dish.

Recipe adapted from Emeril 20-40-60:  Fresh Food Fast.  Emeril Lagasse.  New York:  Harper Collins, 2009.

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