LAKE OCONEE — If you've seen a clementine in the produce department you may have mistaken it for an orange or a tangerine. This tiny orange colored fruit is actually part of the mandarin orange family. A clementine is the smallest of the mandarin oranges, or Citrus reticulata. The fruit is a slightly flattened sphere and is about 2 inches in diameter. The wonderful thing about clementine's is that they are easy to peel, and unlike their tangerine cousins, they have NO seeds. Even their segments come apart easily making it an ideal snack for kids to manage by themselves.
Clementines are in season from late October to mid-February. Most of the time, clementines are packed and sold in 5-pound crates. When purchasing clementines check their scent — they should smell good and sweet. The rind should never feel puffy and it should not feel like there's any space between it and the flesh. They should have no spotting, no signs of shriveling, no white patches on the rind, and no fermented smell.
When in season, this sweet little fruit is quit economical. A crate usually holds 25 to 30 clementines and costs about $7.99. This averages out to be about .25 cents each, which is less than the price of a candy bar! One clementine has just 35 calories and it contains 60 percent of your daily supply of vitamin C. It is every bit as filling as a handful of chips, which ring in at 140 calories, or candy bars, which generally have 200 to 300 calories!
A crate of clementines keeps for about one week on the counter or two weeks in the refrigerator, so the biggest challenge you may have is finishing them before they go bad. I suggest eating them every day by trying some of the following suggestions.
• Keep a few in your car so that you can eat them on the go.
• Eat clementines as your fruit serving with every meal.
• Take them along in the car.
• Keep some on your desk at work, for a quick easy snack.
• Top a spinach or arugula salad with clementine segments.
• Fill the deli drawer of your refrigerator with clementines. This makes them easy to reach and eat for the entire family.
• Take three clementines to eat after your next workout instead of a sports bar. Three clementines have about 105 calories, whereas most sports bars have at least double that. For ease in eating, you can peel them and put a couple in a Ziploc bag ahead of time.
• Segment some clementines, juice a few, then bake them with salmon or tilapia. Drizzle with a little olive oil and you have a winner!
• If you fire up your grill, you can include these with chicken breast and grill them too. Simply place the pieces on foil. No grill? No problem! You can also broil both in the oven.
• Take them to your next party or sports event and replace some of the higher calorie foods with a clementine.
• Squeeze the juice from of a clementines over salad, along with a tiny drizzle of olive oil.
Cuties Mandarin Parfait
Recipes courtesy of California Cuties
Makes two servings.
Juicy mandarin segments play a starring role in this elegant but simple to make dessert or breakfast treat.
3 fresh mandarins, peeled and separated into segments
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 (6-ounce) container lowfat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup granola or crumbled oatmeal cookie
1/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves, stirred to thin consistency
In clear glasses or goblets, layer ingredients in this order: segments of mandarin, almonds, yogurt, granola or cookie and preserves. Repeat twice.