Monthly Archives: December 2017

When Life Gives You Lemons… or Oranges, or Grapefruit… or Clementines

Your definitive guide to citrus

By December, summer fruits are a distant memory: except for those shipped from South America. For closer-to-home fruit, ‘tis the season for citrus. During the winter, citrus fruit is grown extensively in Florida and California, so it’s widely available across the United States for several months.

When Life Gives You Lemons

We recognize citrus for its tough, bitter outer rind, its soft white inner layer, and its delicious, juicy, sweet/sour inside. Most citrus is very high in vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants called flavonoids, so it’s an excellent, healthy snack. Here’s the inside scoop on our favorite winter fruit.

Pomelo (citrus maxima) is the largest commonly available citrus fruit. One of the four original (non-hybridized) citrus fruits, the pomelo looks like—and tastes like—a large, sweet grapefruit, but it’s a little less bitter.

Grapefruit (citrus paradisi) is an accidental hybrid of the pomelo and the orange. It is actually higher in sugar than many other citrus fruits, but its high citric acid and ascorbic acid content can make it taste sour. Because of its high acid content, grapefruit and grapefruit juice can interfere with many medications, so check your medicine bottles before enjoying.

Orange (citrus × sinensis) is one of the easiest-to-find fruits, not only in the winter, but all year long. Naval oranges, with their thick skins and sweet taste, are most common, but look further to find blood oranges, Valencia, and Cara Cara varieties; they each have a different flavor, texture, and juice. Try a taste-test!

Mandarin (citrus reticulata) is actually a form of orange. Mandarins are smaller than many oranges, and their skin is often looser, so they’re easier to peel. Common mandarin breeds are clementines, tangerines, and satsumas. Of these, clementines are the easiest to find. Often sold in large bags or boxes, they are seedless and easy to peel, making them lunchbox favorites for adults and children alike.

Kumquat is the smallest citrus fruit: about the size of an acorn. Its skin is so soft that the fruit can be eaten whole, either fresh or candied.

Are You Ready for a Holiday Fitness Challenge?

Commit to a short daily fitness routine to help you stay healthier this holiday season.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, an endless succession of family dinners, office parties, and edible gifts can derail even the healthiest eaters. Combined with the colder weather, ‘tis the season to pack on the pounds like a Christmas goose.

Holiday Fitness Challenge

To counteract the seasonal splurges, why not try an office exercise challenge? For yourself or for a group of colleagues, these workplace exercises can be a fun way to keep fit.

Day One: Stairs

Once an hour, run up and down a flight of stairs at least once. Advanced/ambitious team members can do several flights each hour.

Day Two: Desk Pushups

Every two hours, stand up and place hands on desk, about shoulder-distance apart. With your arms straight, walk your feet backwards until your body is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Keeping your body straight, do 10 pushups.

Day Three: Superman/Banana

For core strength, you have to hit the floor, so you may want to bring a towel. First, lie face-down on the floor, with your arms above your head, pointing straight in front of you. Then lift your arms and legs a few inches off the floor; you’re Superman! Hold for 30 seconds, then rest. Flip onto your back, with your arms extended over your head. Carefully, making sure your lower back doesn’t arch; lift your arms and legs so that your body forms a wide V. You’re a banana! Hold for 30 seconds, then rest. Do three times during the day, and try to lengthen the time you hold each pose.

Day Four: Walking Challenge

This one works best if you’re doing a fitness challenge with a group. Once an hour, write a note—an encouraging quote, or a joke, or a bit of good-natured gossip—to a colleague. Walk to that person’s office in the most roundabout way possible.

Day Five: Wall Sits

Standing around waiting for the coffee to brew? Sit instead… against the wall. Wall sits work your legs and core, and they’re harder than they look. Stand straight, with your back against the wall. Slowly slide your back down the wall, bending your knees until they are at a 90-degree angle. Now hold it for as long as you can. For fun, get other colleagues to join you, and see who can hold it the longest. Get someone to take a picture; there’s your company photo! The company that stays fit together stays together!

Thinking About a Detox Fast or Cleanse? Read This First.

Not so Fast

Thanksgiving is over, and it’s hard to avoid looking for an easy way to reverse the damage from several days of overeating. You might be especially tempted by drastic quick-fix solutions like cleanses, detoxes, and even fasts. These terms are not synonymous, but they all require eliminating almost all solid food from your diet and replacing it with liquids like juice, tea, or even just water. The programs are all fairly short-term, but they are very extreme.

Before you do a detox fast

The idea behind detoxes—clearing the body of poisons, or toxins—is ancient; from sweat lodges to bloodletting to enemas, many cultures have embraced the practice of flushing bad substances from the body. While the practice died out in many Western cultures throughout the 20th century, it has come back with a vengeance in the 21st. When looking online or through magazines for healthy ways to lose weight, it’s impossible to avoid advertisements for 24-hour juice cleanses or pills to detoxify your liver.

Many cleanses and detoxes focus on the liver, since the liver’s job is to purify your body of toxins. Toxins in our bodies come from both within our bodies and without, and include environmental chemicals as well as “lifestyle toxins” like nicotine and alcohol. The liver “turns potentially harmful chemicals into water-soluble chemicals that can be sweated or excreted from the body.” Many products also focus on the colon—through liquid and high-fiber diets, or even through “colon-cleansing” enemas. These cleanses basically make you spend a lot of time in the bathroom until there’s not much left in your digestive tract.

While many celebrities and “celebrity medical personalities” may endorse these extreme fad diets and purges, most scientists and doctors agree that they bring no long-term benefits, and may actually cause harm. The hepatology (liver) department at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine recommends against any products that claim to cleanse the liver, and they are not regulated by the FDA and may even lead to “drug-induced injury.” The Mayo Clinic warns against colon cleanses, noting that they can cause dehydration, bowel perforations, increase the risk of infection, as well as less serious side effects like cramping, nausea, and diarrhea. Above all, most doctors and nutrition specialists agree that any weight loss from a fast or cleanse will be short-lived and will be reversed as soon as you go back to eating normally.

So forget about the fast. Focus instead on healthy choices, like fresh foods with lots of fruit and vegetables. Your body is its own detox system, and if you let it do its job, all that turkey and stuffing bloat will be long gone by Christmas.