Citrus Sunshine

Citrus Sunshine

In junior high school, I had a teacher that went on a “grapefruit diet”.  Every day, she seemed to come to school with her grapefruit in tow, and I being one that appreciated food (yes, even then!), I couldn’t help but shrug in bewilderment.  As the pounds came off, she certainly didn’t seem to mind the glaringly obvious lack of chocolate in her grapefruit choice.

trimmed orange

The first time I ever met a pomelo was during my post-high school year in seminary. Never before had I encountered the mellow, sweet citrus…what seemed like a green grapefruit on steroids.  Little did I know then that grapefruits are actually a hybrid of an orange and a pomelo. Go figure.  I quickly dubbed my new affinity a “pomelo diet.”  It took so long to get past the thick peel and pith, that by the time I was finished taking the fruit apart I had no time to eat anything else for lunch. Had I only known then how to “supreme” a citrus fruit (…there might have been time for a pizza).


Truth is, the dead of winter is the perfect time to eat more citrus – when immunities run low during cold season, when it’s hard to keep the comfort food pounds off, and when we are all missing our yummy summer fruits.  That’s the time to put down the chocolate (until later) and start crushing the sugar crave with a vitamin C citrus powerhouse that is known to prevent scurvy, and reduce risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, cancer and other diseases.

slicing membranes

One of the Torah’s commandments is to “safeguard our souls,” traditionally understood as obligating us to safeguard our physical health. Taking care of bodies and feeding ourselves with nourishing, healthy foods seems like a no-brainer, but we all know that it is not always a given, and certainly not so easy.  If it were, the Rambam (Maimonides) wouldn’t have needed to write extensively about nutrition and health in his Mishneh Torah (Hilchot De’ot), which he did.  Protecting our physical health, he teaches, is a prerequisite and pathway toward spiritual health.


That said, a little dressing, a dash of spice, the fusion of different flavors are all welcome ways of keeping things interesting enough to keep me from rummaging through my cupboard in search of a midnight nosh.  A mix of citrus juices and zest, cinnamon, a touch of honey make a delicious dressing on my Winter Citrus Salad.  Also a splash of orange liqueur…because well, it’s just better that way.


I love the contrasts of this salad. The citrus bursts like sunshine on a cold winter day, augmented by crimson jewels of tart pomegranate and the brightness of a sprinkling of crystallized ginger.  When my kids came home from school and spotted it, they left me none.  Healthy or not, they know what tastes good.

Winter Citrus Salad

Winter Citrus Fruit Salad

 Wonderfully refreshing, and beautiful to the eye, this is an impressive upgrade from a sectioned grapefruit as an appetizer; also delicious served over Greek yogurt for a healthful breakfast or brunch!

 Serves 4


2 ruby red grapefruits

3 oranges

½ cup pomegranate seeds (about 1/3 of a pomegranate)

2 tbsp. flaked coconut

½ tsp. grated lime zest (peel)

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of ½ lemon

3-4 tsp. honey, or more to taste depending on the sweetness of the fruit

1/8-1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. Triple-sec or orange flavored liquor

1-2 tbsp. crystallized ginger, finely chopped


Cut off the polar ends of the grapefruits with a sharp serrated knife.  Then slice the peel from the sides.  Trim away the white pith.  With a gentle sawing motion, cut along each membrane and release the grapefruit sections into a large mixing bowl (you will be left with an empty mass of membranes – discard).  Repeat with the oranges, adding them to the grapefruit segments.  Add the pomegranate seeds and coconut.  Mix to blend.

In a small bowl, combine lime zest, lime and lemon juices, honey, cinnamon, and liquor.  Whisk until well blended.  Add this mixture to the oranges and grapefruits, and mix to blend.  Set aside to marinate for 15-20 minutes.  Spoon into dessert bowls and top with a little sprinkling of crystallized ginger on each bowl.  Serve and enjoy!


Serving Tips

  • This salad has gorgeous color contrasts – for an even bolder look, try using a blood orange instead.
  • Serve in a dessert bowl or hollow out half of an orange and fill.
  • If serving on Shabbat, the dressing can be prepared in advance to avoid squeezing and grating which should not be done on Shabbat.


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