An easy first step in keeping your immune system in top-notch shape is honing in on your diet — specifically, focusing on eating a variety of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin C is one nutrient that we know helps support our immune system. In fact, not getting enough vitamin C can leave us at greater risk for infection, per a November 2017 article in Nutrients. This is because the water-soluble vitamin plays numerous roles, from keeping our epithelial barriers strong (and preventing pathogens from invading) and acting as an antioxidant, protecting against environmental oxidative stress.
The good news is, you can find vitamin C in many tasty foods — and one of the most obvious sources of C is oranges! A single medium orange provides about 75 percent of your needs for the day, according to the USDA. (And that means, most of us don't need to take a supplement to meet our daily needs.)
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On that note, here are eight delicious orange recipes that you can enjoy as a meal, a snack or even dessert. All of the recipes feature vitamin C-packed oranges — whether it's the fruit itself or the juice.
1. Sticky Chia Fried Rice
A much healthier version of your favorite fried rice recipe, this rice is made "sticky" by adding omega-3-rich chia seeds. It's also loaded with nutrient-packed ingredients like tofu, red and green peppers, scallions, basil, ginger and brown rice. The arugula and orange slices pair perfectly as a side salad.
Get the Sticky Chia Fried Rice recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Sautéed Citrus Salad
The base of this beautiful side salad includes thick orange slices sautéed in olive oil. Topping the browned orange slices with goat cheese, mint leaves and pomegranate arils creates a dramatic presentation when plated. Each salad includes an entire orange, ensuring you're getting a hefty dose of vitamin C for the day.
Get the Sautéed Citrus Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Beef and Pomegranate Salad With Orange-Ginger Vinaigrette
Simple ingredients like beef, kale, oranges, olive oil and pomegranate arils come together to create a complex flavor combo that you'll love. Because it's a sizeable salad with all of the makings of a balanced meal — protein, fiber, healthy fats — you can enjoy all of this healthy deliciousness for your lunch or dinner.
While we typically want to limit our red meat intake, beef tenderloin is a leaner cut, per the American Heart Association, making it a healthy choice for this salad.
Get the Beef and Pomegranate Salad With Orange-Ginger Vinaigrette recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Dreamy Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins
These healthier chocolate chip muffins made with oranges are a prime example of how all desserts aren't created equal. Good-for-you ingredients like whole-wheat pastry flour, almond flour, orange zest, egg, unsweetened almond milk and OJ help create the base. These are perfect for a snack if you're craving something on the sweeter side.
Get the Dreamy Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Orange Chicken and Cauliflower Rice
Deep-fried and slathered in a sweet sauce, the traditional Orange Chicken you're accustomed to ordering when dining out is anything but healthy. Our better-for-you version skips the battered and deep-fried chicken, and the sauce is sweetened with orange juice and honey and seasoned with soy sauce, ginger, garlic and pepper. Also, swapping in cauliflower rice increases your vegetable intake for the day.
Get the Orange Chicken and Cauliflower Rice recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Orange Orzo Salad With Almonds, Feta and Olives
A beautiful salad that's easy to make yet far from simple in flavor, this makes for the perfct weekday meal. You'll get parsley, raisins, feta cheese, orange juice, olives, almonds, olive oil and vinegar tossed with whole-wheat orzo in each bite. Enjoy it as a side dish or top with chicken or salmon to create a balanced meal.
Get the Orange Orzo Salad With Almonds, Feta and Olives recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Orange Apricot Chicken Tagine
Traditionally, Moroccan tagine dishes are made in a tagine, which is a clay vessel with a lid. But if you don't have one on hand, you can "cheat" by using a large cast-iron skillet instead. The recipe calls for one cup of orange juice, which you can make at home by squeezing three medium-sized oranges. Other power foods in this dish include turmeric, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, garlic and tomatoes.
Get the Orange Apricot Chicken Tagine recipe and nutrition info here.
8. Orange Poppy Seed Pound Cake
Dessert is served. Lemon poppy seed is good, but we love the sweet-meets-tart flavor oranges bring to this dessert cake. It's a healthier version of a pound cake, made with whole-wheat pastry flour, yogurt and olive oil. The recipe also calls for much less sugar than traditionally used thanks to the sweetness nature provides via the addition of orange juice and orange zest.
Get the Orange Poppy Seed Pound Cake recipe and nutrition info here.