Monday, December 14, 2009

A Citrusy Saga and Recipe

- Juliana Mitchell

I’m Juliana, a Yoga teacher and self described “Wellness Bhaj”. That’s a phrase I made up. Bhaj is a Sanskrit word meaning “to pursue, practice, cultivate or seek”. Having earlier in life been afflicted with sundry imbalances of mind & body, I commenced with an investigation into healing foods & practices. The result: today I’m in a state of radiant health and love-filled, vibrant balance. And that brings us up to date.

I made an orange cake for Thanksgiving, so I had a leftover whole, poached orange sitting on my counter. Here “poached” is fancy talk for “boiled ‘til soft” and “whole” means “skin ‘n’ all”. I didn’t want the fruit to go to waste but had no idea what to do with it, which led to a risky attempt at a smoothie-concoction. Pouring the frothy result into a glass and tasting the fruits of my labor - oh yum! - I vaguely recollected hearing that orange peel possesses healing properties. With a glass of Poached Whole Orange & Raw, Chocolate Smoothie in one hand and my laptop keypad beneath the other, I began an internet investigation.

What are the wellness benefits of consuming orange peel?

It seems orange peel (citrus aurantium) offers quite an array of healing support. Multiple sources reference it as being anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-acne. One herbal company ( explains that orange peel has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) since at least the second century, to "reduce accumulation". That’s to say, to get rid of gas, undigested matter and phlegm. But wait, there’s more. I ran onto an article from 2004 by a (get this) ‘carbohydrate scientist’ named Arland who works for a certain USDA Research Unit, in which he discusses ground breaking studies proving there's an ingredient in the peel that curbs food born pathogens while promoting healthful probiotic growth. Also, according to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, certain compounds in the peel (polymethoxylated flavones or PMFs) have the potential to lower cholesterol more than some commercial drugs. And finally, I read that research is underway to validate the anti-carcinogenic effects of ingesting the stuff. Wowza!

This information increases my zest for the scrumptious beverage. But I do wonder, as I eagerly refill my glass, might the beneficial components within the orange skin be annihilated in the boiling process?

I draft an e-mail for a friend and nutritional expert who has a Masters in Nutrition from Columbia. Then noting an e-mail address on the article from the USDA carbo scientist named Arland, I decide to be cheeky and write to him too. It’s a shot in the dark, I know. I presume he’s not even at that address any longer, it’s been five years. And if he is, he may not wish for a pen pal. But we move in the direction of our heart’s intentions.

I hit Send just as my husband, my best taste tester, arrives home. “Honey, there’s chocolate smoothie in the blender.” I neglect to mention the peel deal; he’s not so interested in health food as I am. From my kitchen I hear a resounding “Oh yumlicious!”

That my husband really liked it is my second favorite thing about this citrusy saga. My most favorite thing is the reply I got from Arland! It reads:

Hi Juliana,

For the oligosaccharides that I work with, it won't make any difference if they are cooked vs raw. They are pretty heat stable. Therefore, I expect your smoothie would have the prebiotic (stimulates the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, those found in yogurt) benefits. Good luck with your product.

I must stress that this doesn't constitute endorsement by the US Department of Agriculture.


My nutritionist friend replies too, warning that orange peel isn’t safe when eaten by children in large quantities. She added that the vitamin C in the orange would probably not survive cooking. Her general conclusion however is that as “it can boost flavor instead of added sugar, salt, or saturated fat, all the better!” – Maggie Moon, MS, RD

One bit of information I ran onto that I want to highlight strongly, it seems orange peel should not be consumed by pregnant women. And, overall, orange peel should not be chowed-down in excessive quantity by anyone.

This leads to a final and key point, for me. Simply an encompassing perspective: All things in moderation. Except love.

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