Now that summer weather has finally hit the East Coast, Baltimore – where we live – is sticky, hot and not exactly conducive to cooking long, elaborate meals.

This is at least part of the reason I find myself avoiding the oven during the summer months. But that doesn’t mean our wood cutting boards go bare in the summer. I still like to cook – even if that mostly means scattering those cutting boards with fruits and vegetables to chop up and throw together into quick summer salads.

Recently, quick combinations of citrus fruits have been my go-to breakfast and lunch. I throw together oranges, blood oranges, grapefruit and a few other things I find in my kitchen, sprinkle on a bit of balsamic vinegar, and I am good to go. Not only are citrusy salads easy to make, they’re also delicious, hydrating and super healthy.

Savory Citrus Salad

1 grapefruit, peeled and divided into sections

1 orange or blood orange, peeled and divided into sections

1 avocado, pitted and flesh removed from peel

½ red onion, chopped

Balsamic/olive oil mix to taste (more balsamic than olive oil)

Cut the grapefruit, orange and avocado into bite-sized pieces.

Toss with the red onion and sprinkle balsamic/olive oil mix over the top, gently mixing to combine, being careful to keep the avocado pieces intact.

Oranges are a great source of vitamin A, calcium, niacin, folate and – especially – vitamin C. Blood oranges are an even better source of vitamin C; the pigment that gives them their deep red color is packed with anthocyanins, which enhance the effectiveness of the vitamin C in the fruit.

And grapefruits are even better all around. Not only do they have a ton of nutrients like potassium and vitamins C and A, they are also filled with lycopene and beta-carotene, both of which have been linked to decreasing cancer risk. Studies have also linked eating grapefruit with better triglyceride levels and weight loss.

When I’m making salads at home, I mix it up – the exact ingredient list changes depending on what I have on hand. One of my favorite combinations is orange, grapefruit, red onion and avocado.

Citrus fruits also make fantastic additions to cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. Is there anything better than freshly-squeezed juice and a little sparkling water?

LaCroix, the company that makes sparkling water in a whole bunch of interesting flavors, has lots of suggestions for simple drinks that combine their water with citrus juice and, if you want, alcohol. The Sparkling Sundown, both with and without vodka or gin, is an especially good one. It’s just a simple mixture of lime and grapefruit juices, topped with LaCroix pamplemousse water (that’s French for “grapefruit”).

LaCroix Sparkling Sundown

1 tablespoon lime juice

6 ounces Pamplemousse  LaCroix Sparkling Water

1 ½ ounce grapefruit juice

Mix ingredients and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with a wedge of grapefruit.

As long as we keep a big bowl of oranges and grapefruits in the kitchen, we are never parched!

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