_ ...or your clementines from your tangerines? Me neither, I always use the names interchangeably when talking about those lovely ‘little oranges’ and I was curious to know why there are so many kinds and if there were any nutritional differences. So I did a bit of nerding around and this is what I found:

There are no nutritional differences – they’re all good for you so get stuck in.

There are less than 50 calories in a medium sized mandarin. They are rich in antioxidants, high in Vitamin C, vitamin A and contain a good amount of fibre and calcium.  

'Obesity News' has also just posted an article claiming that 'A Tangerine a Day, Keeps Obesity Away' The clever folks at The University of Western Ontario have discovered a substance in tangerines that not only prevents obesity, but also offers protection against type 2 diabetes, and even atherosclerosis, the underlying disease responsible for most heart attacks and strokes.

If that’s all the info you needed then don’t bother reading on but if your inner geek has been sparked or if you’re looking for a little unusual Christmas trivia to impress the in-laws with over roast turkey and pigs-in-blankets the then read on my darlings…

Well it all started in China 4,000 years ago with the mandarin. Priests in Imperial China wore bright orange robes and were the only ones allowed to eat the fruit. Mandarins didn’t make it to Europe until the 18th century.

The tangerine is a type of mandarin and gets its name from those who brought it over to Europe from it’s native Algeria – The Tangiers

The Clementine was also found in Algeria by Father Clement in the 1900’s and it’s a cross between a mandarin and a sweet orange making it slightly sweeter than an orange. These are usually seedless, making then popular in the UK and US but not in the Mediterranean where seedless fruit is thought by some to cause impotence! Well I would never of made that link!

The Satsuma (my personal favourite) is a type of mandarin with a more delicate flavour from Japan. In Japan they are known as Mikan and there are more than 100 different varieties. We know them as Satsuma’s thanks to the wife of General Van Valkenberg, who was rather partial to the little fruit and so had a few trees sent home to The States. Sadly the Satsuma is dying a death in the UK and US these days as it’s a fragile little fellow that bruises easily and supermarkets are taking preference on the hardier cousin Clementine. Supermarkets spoil everything!

So there you have it. A brief history of the mandarin family! If this comes up in trivial pursuit or a Christmas cracker then you’re going to look cooler than Mick Jagger (Just because it rhymes)

On a separate note does anyone know why there are so many orange coloured fruits in season in winter? Persimmon, mandarins…well that might be it but it seems like I eat a lot of orange foods at this time of year. Do you remember when that little girl drank so much Sunny D that she turned orange? It stuck with me that! Stay away from those chemical versions of OJ. Makes me shudder.

_ Scarlet red with a velvety texture and more than just a little bit tarty...you've guessed it, we're talking Cranberries!  Tis the berry of the season and it comes with a whole host of benefits, just in time to counteract the disasters of the festive fare that we usually gorge on for 4-5 weeks every year!

Cranberries are in season from October to December, so now is the time to eat these nutrient dense little balls of goodness. They're really healthy on so many levels, this is the berry that just keeps giving:

Cranberries are an excellent Source of:
Vitamin C
Vitamin K
Vitamin E

Cranberries are probably best known to help prevent Urinary Tract infections but this is only one of the miraculous health claims. Cranberries grow, bobbing up and down on the water. This means they capture a great amount of natural sunlight and along with it a plethora of phytonutrients which provide us will so many health benefits, we're probably yet to discover many of them, but what we do know is that cranberries are: 
  1. one of the richest sources of anti-oxidants, ranking higher than most other fruits.
  2. Anti inflammatory
  3. A digestive aid
  4. Immunity boosters
  5. Active in preventing high blood pressure
  6. Bringing down levels of LDL cholesterol
  7. Able to inhibit growth of tumor cells 

And if that's not enough they even look after your teeth by eliminating a bacteria known to cause tooth decay!

All this for a mere 23 calories per 50g serving. Bargain!

A cranberry is not just for Christmas, it’s for life! Fresh cranberries will only last 20 days in the fridge but they'll last for a whole year if you freeze them from fresh. Although fresh cranberries are best, many of the health benefits are also to be found in the dried version - just try to avoid dried cranberries that have added sugar. The runner up is juice - most of the fibre and some of the nutrients will be lost during the production of cranberry juice but it's still better than a diet coke! 

Now is the time to:
  • Add fresh cranberries to your porridge oats, yoghurts and breakfast cereals
  • Eat as a snack on their own - better than a handful of Quality Street!
  • Add to salads
  • Make cranberry sauce for your roasts
  • Bake into muffins and cakes
  • Mix with roasted nuts
Have a look at some of these cranberry recipes to try to add more cranberries into your diet this winter and if you have/find a good cranberry dish then please feel free to post it here!

Today I started my day off with this little gem. Looks like any ordinary coffee but its masking a world of cherry, almondy lovliness...it is, it's a Bakewell Tart Cappuccino!  Nespresso (George Clooney coffee) come up with new seasonal flavours every year and this season includes cherry. Sounds strange but actually really nice. Whiz up some almond milk in your aeroccino and you have yourself a Bakewell Tart coffee. Its vegan, gluten and lactose free. That's the cherry on the top.

I'm starting to realise that the Dutch do things differently. Today whilst queuing up at supermarket checkout there was a lady (she worked there!) with block of cheese in one hand and a cheese slicer in the other, slicing off bits of cheese for people to eat whilst they wait. Now you wouldn't get service like that in Sainsbury's! The cheese is obviously amazing here and so I'm embarrased to admit that I'm missing cheddar a little bit. Strange that as I didn't even eat much cheddar in the UK. Perhaps I'm more patriotic than I realise. Another point of interest in today's shopping adventure was this:
Well I never - Heinz Curry Mango sauce? Erm yes please! Again I'm not really a saucy person (I won't even bother with that one!) but I had to know what this was like. It's like Coronation Chicken and I fear that it will make everything taste nice which is exactly why I should of left my curiosity alone. That and the fact that it's never seen a mango...or a curry for that matter. I saw a documentary today on a friends blog (www.translatingnutrition.com). It was about artificial flavours and it was a real eye opener! Did you know that these white coated flavour makers like to create flavours that don't linger too long so that you go back in sooner for more.  Scandalous addiction creating behaviour!. There are a whole host of flavour illusions that are laid bare in this clip. Definitely worth a watch and a yet another good reason to stick to unprocessed foods as much as possible.  Sorry Curry Mango but I know your game!

Tonight's dinner was homemade Pizza. Well it was a bought pizza base (organic, Spelt pizza base that is!) but all of the toppings were my own! I love pizza so thought I'd have a go a creating my own healthier version. The base is organic wholegrain Spelt and I topped it with lots of veggies, some mozzarella, bit of chorizo (mainly on the husbands side) and only one TSP of olive oil on the whole pizza. It was pretty good even if I do say so myself much more nutritious, 'clean' and 100's of calories less than a takeout or shop bought!