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Serve up some sunshine

Citrus fruits are popular as snacks or sidekicks in the lunch box, but they can bring a whole lot more to the family table.

With their sweet-tangy taste, juicy goodness and sunny colors, grapefruit, oranges and tangerines from Florida can be enjoyed in all kinds of dishes. Whether you use grapefruit juice in a milkshake, orange zest in baked goods, or tangerine slices in a stir-fry, there are plenty of ways to serve up some sunshine.

"Try cooking muffins in grapefruit rinds that have been halved and hollowed out," suggested Justin Timineri, executive chef and culinary ambassador, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. "Or lightly grate the outer peel of citrus and use it when you're cooking -- the natural oils in the peel really enhance a dish."

These recipes show you just some of the ways you can use delicious and healthy Florida citrus in your kitchen. For more recipes and ideas, visit http://bit.ly/floridacitrus.


Single Serve Fruity Pizza

Kids Can: This is fun for kids of all ages to make. Older kids can help slice, with supervision.

2 tablespoons light cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 9-inch whole-wheat pita bread
1 Florida orange, peeled and sectioned
1/4 cup Florida strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup Florida cantaloupe, sliced
1/4 cup Florida blueberries

Combine cream cheese and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until well blended. Spread over pitas. Decorate with fruit by creating fun faces and patterns. Yield: 1 serving.


Citrus Dream Milkshake

Kids Can: Younger kids can pour and push the blender button. Older kids can make this by themselves.

1/2 cup Florida orange juice
1/2 cup Florida grapefruit juice
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1 tablespoon sugar
2 drops vanilla extract
4 cups ice

Pour orange juice, grapefruit juice, milk, sugar and vanilla extract into a blender with ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass, add a straw and serve. Garnish with sliced fruit. Yield: 4 servings.


Citrus and Honey Butter Pancakes

Kids Can: Younger kids can measure, pour and mix. Older kids can cook the pancakes, with supervision.

3/4 cup Florida orange juice
1/2 cup honey, divided
1 lemon, zested
1 egg
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal, finely ground
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Vegetable oil for cooking

Preheat a large saute pan or griddle over medium-low heat. In medium-sized mixing bowl, combine orange juice, 1/4 cup honey, lemon zest and egg. Use a whisk to make sure ingredients are mixed well. In separate mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt). Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients using whisk to make sure mixture is combined. In small bowl, combine softened butter and remaining honey, and set aside. Add small amount of vegetable oil to preheated pan or griddle. Using a 1/4 cup measure for each pancake, carefully pour batter into pan or griddle. Cook pancakes until they start to bubble on the uncooked side, about 2 to 3 minutes. When the bubbles start to appear, flip each pancake in the pan, and let cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat cooking procedure until all the pancake batter is cooked. Serve pancakes warm with the honey butter. Keep pancakes warm on a cookie sheet in a 200 F oven until you are ready to serve. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.


Sweet Tangerine Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry

Kids Can: Gather and measure ingredients; mix the sauce. Older kids can help slice, with supervision.

1 1/2 pounds beef, sliced thin
1 bunch scallions, sliced
3 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped fine
1 sweet red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 Florida tangerine, zested and juiced, separated
2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon light low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Florida tangerines, peeled and sectioned
Cooked brown rice

In medium sized mixing bowl, combine beef, scallions, ginger, bell peppers, tangerine zest and cornstarch. Mix ingredients well to coat. Preheat a large saute pan over medium high heat. In small mixing bowl combine tangerine juice, soy sauce and sugar. Stir ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Add vegetable oil to preheated saute pan. Carefully add beef mixture to pan. Cook while stirring constantly until the beef is browned and slightly crispy. Add soy sauce mixture and cook until sauce is thickened. Toss in fresh tangerine segments and serve over brown rice. Yield: 4 servings.


"C" Why Vitamin C Is So Good for You

Citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C. Why is vitamin C important? It does a lot in your body:

--Helps heal cuts and wounds

--Keeps your teeth and gums healthy

--Helps your body absorb iron

--Is needed to make collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels

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