The past few months have been a strange combination of monotony on the one hand and disruption on the other. I was home nearly all the time, keeping to the same schedule. On the other hand, there was a constant sense of things being profoundly altered. It helped me to have some routines that were consistent in these inconsistent times, and incorporating Florida Orange Juice into my cooking and recipes—these orange juice simmered berries included—was one of them!
Wellness routines show up in a lot of different ways, and I needed to give thought to my own little “toolkit” this spring. This was especially true of sleeping: as soon as quarantine started, I began to have more vivid dreams and more fitful sleep than usual. I woke up earlier, too, often in the wee hours of the morning.
It wasn’t easy to control the highs and lows of anxiety or sleeplessness, but I did what I could to stay balanced. I didn’t meditate successfully, but I did a lot of yoga nidra and progressive relaxation recordings in the evening. I gave as much attention as possible to breathing and remaining centered in my body—practices I was working on even before life changed this year.
And then there’s nourishment, of course. I’m used to eating all three meals at home, so a lot of my prep, storage, and cooking didn’t change in the last three months. I have a local grocer only two blocks away that was relatively empty in the morning and pretty well stocked on staples, so I was incredibly privileged with food access.
I focused on the fundamentals of nourishment that support me. They’re the same in times of crisis as they are year-round: a balance of macronutrients at meals, recipes that make me feel comforted and grounded, sweets for pleasure and to keep my spirits light (maybe more of those than usual in quarantine!), and an effort to eat as much variety as I can.
One food combination that has been completely consistent since this spring is the Orange Juice Simmered Berries that I’m sharing in today’s post. Thanks to a base of 100% orange juice, they’re brimming with vitamin C and other important nutrients. At first, I was making them with frozen berries. Now that berries are in season and it’s easier to shop for local food, I can make it with fresh berries. The recipe is the same either way, and very simple: a pound of berries, a cup of 100% orange juice, one or two tablespoons of any sweetener (optional), and a pinch of cinnamon (optional).
100% orange juice has been supporting my immune system with nutrients like vitamin C, beneficial flavonoids and carotenoids (plant compounds that play a role in fighting inflammation), and hydrating electrolytes, like potassium and magnesium. Florida OJ also contains folate, which has been associated with cardiovascular health, and thiamin, which is crucial for energy metabolism.
Florida Orange Juice not only adds nutrition, but helps to sweeten the berries and add bright, citrusy flavor. Once they’ve simmered, the berries will be sort of like a loose, runny jam. I usually pile them over oatmeal, but they’ve also showed up over toast, over hot polenta for breakfast, and over plant-based yogurt (that’s what I often do with cold leftovers). A routine I’ve enjoyed time and time again! Here’s the recipe.
Orange Juice Simmered Berries
Yields: 2 cups
- 1 cup 100% orange juice
- 1 pound fresh or frozen berries (if using fresh strawberries, trim and quarter)
- 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or coconut sugar (optional)
- pinch cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, until the berries are syrupy and reduced in volume. Serve over hot cereal, yogurt, toast, an English muffin, etc.
Store the orange juice simmered berries in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 days.
As an added bonus here, my environmental allergies are at their peak for the year, and the vitamin C in 100% orange juice may have an anti-histamine effect. I’ll take all the help that I can get!
Grateful for this simple way of adding sweetness and nutrition to my days. Maybe it’ll become part of your own self-caring routine, too. Till soon.
This post is inspired by the Florida Department of Citrus. All opinions are my own. Thanks for your support!