Glory to God in highest heaven,

Who unto man His Son hath given;

While angels sing with tender mirth,

A glad new year to all the earth.

—Martin Luther

New Year’s Eve is a glorious time to reflect upon the events of the year, to cherish fond memories, acknowledge achievements, and to be humbled and educated by challenging events. While many choose to celebrate New Year’s Eve at sparkling soirees, some conscious cooks acknowledge the hopefulness and opportunities of a New Year by celebrating at home in their own kitchens.

New Year’s Eve at home can be simple or sumptuous, and making use of high quality ingredients should be tantamount to the occasion.  If a midnight toast is in order, a pitcher of freshly squeezed citrus juice would add vibrant color and healthy attributes to a glass of sparkling wine.

Blood oranges are an exquisite addition to the array of citrus choices currently available in markets.

With a crimson, almost blood-colored flesh, blood oranges are superb for juicing and add a tantalizing, deep rosy tint to any beverage, sauce, compote or sorbet.

Offering 40 percent more vitamin C content than other oranges, blood oranges provide superior levels of antioxidant protection for the body.  Slightly sweeter and less acidic than other orange varieties, blood oranges have sensational overtones of raspberry and strawberry, giving them absolutely fabulous flavor for a multitude of any-occasion dishes. Blood orange syrup is magnificent on French toast, blood orange vinaigrette will enliven a salad of bitter greens, creamy avocado and pomegranate seeds and blood orange marinades are marvelous for fish, poultry, pork and lamb.

Fat-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free and high in fiber, the heavenly hued blood orange is a superb snack choice with its easy-to-peel, thin skin, and few seeds. A crystal bowl filled with these beauties is a perfect New Year’s Eve dessert offering. The succulent sections are so satisfying, that no other sweet treats are needed, with the exception of a few squares of dark chocolate.

Blood oranges are also a rich source of potassium, dietary fiber and anthocyanins, which are largely responsible for the unique coloration. Those same anthocyanins are full of excellent disease-fighting antioxidants which may help slow or prevent the growth of cancer cells, control inflammation and prevent free radical damage.

Originating in Sicily and Spain, blood oranges are cultivated in the United States in California and Texas and are generally readily available in supermarkets from December through May. Choose fruit that feels firm and well filled out, and store in the refrigerator for about a week.

Happy New Year and may your kitchen be filled with blessings as you prepare a delicious life!

Blood Orange Champagne Cocktail

Makes 8.

1 1/2  cups freshly squeezed blood orange juice

3/4 cup Cointreau or other orange liqueur such as Triple Sec

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 750 ml bottle chilled Champagne or sparkling wine (such as Prosecco)

Mix together juices and orange liqueur. Cover and store in refrigerator to chill until serving time. When ready to serve,  divide juice mixture among 8 champagne glasses and top off with Champagne or Prosecco.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook”, is a passionate food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. She earned her cooking experience in the kitchen! Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to children and adults utilizing fresh, natural ingredients and super simple, extra delicious recipes. She also conducts cooking demonstrations for many local organizations and is available for cooking parties and private instruction as well. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net.

Robin’s blog is confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com