During winter months the last thing we want to deal with is being sick. The big question is how can we prevent ourselves from becoming sick?
Practicing good sanitation habits, getting enough sleep, and eating nutritious meals are all important in the continuous fight to stay healthy and free from illness. Certain nutrients, such as vitamin C, play a vital role in how the body defends against illness and in the promotion of overall health.
Vitamin C has several roles in the body:
- As an antioxidant, vitamin C defends against free radicals and oxidative stress.
- As a cofactor, vitamin C is involved in collagen formation, energy metabolism, and in the creation of hormones.
- When the body is under stress, such as dealing with an infection, physiological needs for vitamin C increase.
- Vitamin C might also have an important role in the prevention and/or treatment of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, cataracts, and other diseases.
RDA for Vitamin C
|Males (19-70+ years old)||90 mg per day|
|Females (19-70+ years old)||75 mg per day|
Seek fruits and vegetables that are in season. Foods grown and harvested in season contain the highest amount of nutrients, such as vitamin C, compared to foods grown and harvested out of season. Check out the following link for typical winter fruits and vegetables grown and harvested in Southern California: California Crop Harvest Calendar
- Oranges and mandarins are excellent sources of vitamin C and are in season and harvested in Southern California from January through April. One medium-sized orange provides approximately 70 mg of vitamin C.
- Beets are perhaps an unexpected vitamin C source and happen to be in season year-round in Southern California. One-half cup of sliced raw beets provides approximately 3 mg of vitamin C.
Choose vitamin C-rich foods every day to ensure adequate intake for overall health and to support a strong immune system.
The following recipe provides for a tasty and colorful way to get your vitamin C during winter months by combining tangy oranges or mandarins and earthy beets on a bed of seasonal mixed greens!
Beet, Orange and Mixed Greens Salad
Recipe by Sarah Delcourt
- 2 large beets (or 4 small beets), rinsed and scrubbed
- ½ pound oranges (or mandarins), peeled with pith removed,
- separated into slices
- 4 cups seasonal mixed greens, rinsed
- 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange (or mandarin) juice
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar Photo Credit: John Delcourt
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon canola oil (for roasting beets)
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- ⅓ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Place cleaned beets on a large piece of aluminum foil. Pour canola oil over beets and coat beets entirely. Wrap beets in foil and bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserts easily into the center of the beets. Remove beets from the oven and allow beets to cool. When sufficiently cooled, peel the outer skin off of the beets and discard. Chop the peeled beets into 0.5”- 1.0” pieces and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Taste the mixture and adjust the acidity by adding a little more vinegar or orange juice as desired.
3. Toss the roasted beets with 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Toss the mixed greens with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and arrange on a platter or in a wide bowl. Top the mixed greens with the beets, orange slices and feta cheese. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the entire dish. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and walnuts and serve.
Written By: Sarah Delcourt. Sarah graduated with her Bachelors in Nutrition and Dietetics from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), in May 2014. She is currently attending CSULB as a graduate student and dietetic intern with plans for graduating with a Masters in Nutritional Science in May, 2015. She will complete the coordinated internship program in nutrition and dietetics (IPND) in July, 2015, with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian by December, 2015. Sarah is passionate about nutrition and its role in promoting health and wellness.