It’s that time of year again! That’s right, from October to February it’s clementine season! Every year we look forward to those picturesque crates filled with those little orange, adorable, delicious, good for you treats. We can thank sunny Spain for these mandarin and naval orange mash-ups that are so popular during the holiday season. Also imported from Morocco, they were introduced to the U.S. in 1909. In 2004 Berne Evans, an orange farmer and marketing genius, packaged clementines under the name ‘Cuties’ and a food craze was born.
According to Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, “Today, Cuties, or clementines, are the most profitable citrus food in America. Hundreds of farmers have ripped out their orange, lemon, and grapefruit groves and replaced them with Cutie farms.” This past Thanksgiving McDonald’s even started including Cuties in their Happy Meals. To celebrate clementine season, here are eight reasons we wish we could enjoy these sensational snacks all year.
1. Kid-Friendly Fruit
Kids don’t just love clementines because they’re called Cuties. These tiny bundles of citrusy goodness satisfy your sweet tooth and they’re seedless—which is why moms love them too. They’re the perfect size for little hands and super easy to peel, hence they are sometimes called zipper or kid-glove oranges.
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2. Heroically Healthy
These little treasures taste sweet but they’re actually low-cal, at only 35 calories, and low carb, with only about 8 grams of carbohydrates and 1.3 grams of fiber. They’re also a great source of potassium, which helps to balance your electrolytes, manage blood pressure, keep joints working smoothly and overall heart health. A clementine a day will also help keep osteoporosis at bay due to its calcium content.
3. Keep it Moving
With all of the overindulging we do during the holidays, clementine season couldn’t come at a better time of year—especially if you’re still suffering from post-holiday indigestion. Their 1.3 grams of fiber helps your body absorb nutrients more efficiently, adds bulk and keeps everything moving in the right direction. Potassium adds a little digestive boost by helping your muscles function properly.
4. Volumes of Vitamin C
Clementines are absolutely packed with vitamin C—one average fruit contains about one-half of your daily RDA. Since clementine season happens to coincide with cold and flu season, your whole family gets a delicious treat and bolsters their immune systems at the same time. Moms will appreciate vitamin C’s collagen boosting, skin brightening, anti-aging effects.
5. Awash in Antioxidants
Vitamin C is a fantastic antioxidant that helps protect skin from UV rays and other damaging effects. Clementines give you even more antioxidant power with citrus flavonoids that work to protect cells from free radicals.
6. Keep SAD at Bay
Just when you thought these little miracle workers couldn’t get any better, they can also help stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). They’ve got folate, which helps reduce stress and increase brain function. That folate is great for pregnant ladies too! Studies have also shown that the aroma of citrus triggers the release of serotonin, one of those great neurotransmitters that make you feel happy.
7. Disease Prevention
Eating clementines can help manage blood pressure and prevent heart disease. In addition to immune boosting vitamin C, they’ve got limonoids, quercitin and pectin, which have all been shown to prevent different types of cancer.
8. Very Versatile
Finally, clementines are amazingly versatile in the kitchen. Their juice makes a perfect sugar substitute in many recipes. They’re scrumptious as salad toppers and you can amp up the flavor of poultry and fish with clementine zest or marinade.