Conscious Cook: Boost your health and energy with a creamy citrus salad dressing

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” — Jimi Hendrix

Finding peace and good will towards men and women can be difficult during the holiday season under normal circumstances, and is especially challenging during a pandemic. Expectation levels run so high during these few frantic weeks, and patience levels can wane amidst the cyclone of activity.

There are new tensions this season. Simple shopping trips are an aggravation, between remembering to mask up, sanitize a carriage, and maintain a safe social distance from other shoppers. Certain ingredients for baking projects can be difficult to find, necessitating multiple trips for simple items such as dark brown sugar.

Staying healthy and peaceful during this frenetic, yet hopefully festive period, requires dedicated effort. Never have we needed more stress relieving efforts. Deep breathing exercises, meditation sessions, yoga classes and most especially, laughter, can all help to restore and soothe the system.

A cup of green tea, delicious citrus fruits and YouTube comedy videos are a great combination for alleviating high stress levels. Start with “The Carol Burnett Show” bloopers! Follow up with a brisk walk outside. Sunshine and exercise can quickly lift the spirits.

Seasonal fruits, particularly citrus fruits, are a sweet and juicy way to provide peace internally and externally. The fruits of December offer exceptional nutritional benefits. Grapefruit, tangerines, mandarin oranges, navel oranges, kumquats, cranberries and pomegranates are bursting with gorgeous color and significant nutritional benefits. An excellent source of vitamin C, these fruits will potentially help strengthen the immune system and keep skin smooth and elastic. Low in calories, citrus fruits can possibly help protect the heart and brain and can be influential in fending off certain cancers.

Prepare an uplifting winter salad, by arranging several different types of citrus fruits on a platter, add pomegranate arils and a few dried cranberries. Top with dollops of fresh ricotta cheese and drizzle with a creamy citrus vinaigrette. This bright and beautiful plate will delight your senses.

For a dazzling breakfast, top pancakes, french toast, or greek yogurt with citrus segments that have been sautéed with a bit of that elusive dark brown sugar and a dash of almond extract. Add chopped, toasted almonds and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

At the market, look for satsuma mandarins. They are becoming more readily available each season and are particularly toothsome. Juice one and add to a glass of Prosecco for a light and lovely holiday toast. Drop one or two fresh cranberries in the glass for a photo worthy presentation.

Choose citrus fruits that feel full and heavy, with smooth skins. They should be stored in the refrigerator and can last at least two weeks. Stock up and keep different varieties on hand to add to cheese boards, or use to prepare dressings, salads, and easy, effortless desserts. A crystal bowl filled with clementines or satsumas is a perfect offering after a heavy holiday meal. Segments dipped in dark chocolate make for a simple, yet elegant holiday gift.

As you navigate through these unusual times, may you find peace in preparing a delicious life.

Creamy Citrus Dressing

2 tablespoons olive, canola or any nut oil

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon maple syrup

2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon dijon mustard (creamy or grainy)

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a small jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, maple syrup, greek yogurt, dijon mustard, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Shake until mixed well.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener and a graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.