In many homes, Christmas morning is full of fun and excitement. A favorite tradition of many is to pull down stockings from the fireplace mantel and explore with glee what is hidden inside. If you’re very lucky, the gift at the bottom will be a beautiful orange. This week, let’s discuss possible explanations for this healthy custom! I will expand the blog to give you a gift from of two new delicious citrus recipes that were just put on our site. We will also discuss the definition of a citrus fruit, give you links to nutrition information for different citrus fruits, and known contraindications to consuming certain kinds of citrus.

citrus for christmas oranges for stocking stuffersTales on why stockings may include an orange on the bottom

According to the Smithsonian magazine, stockings have been part of many families Christmas traditions for hundreds of years. The delightful poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” (1823), causes us to envisage a picture of Christmas stockings hanging from the fireplace mantel. Picture children squealing with delight on Christmas morning as they open their stockings. Folklore gets handed down between the generations.  If you are good, you will get treats in your stocking and if you are bad, you will get nothing but coal. 

Now…on to the orange! Some think the reason for placing an orange at the bottom of stockings in years gone by is oranges were hard to find and a delicacy. The Smithsonian Institution Magazine presents a beautiful fable about a kindly, poor man with three beautiful daughters to explain the orange. It was thought that the young women would not be able to marry because of needed funds. Our hero St. Nicholas was in the village where this happened and he heard of their plight. St. Nicholas was wise. He knew that the man was proud and would not take money to help his family. St. Nicholas decided to sneak down the chimney and fill the daughter’s clean stockings with gold coins and then magically disappear. The next morning the family problems were resolved by this kind venture. In honor of this tale, some families hang stockings on their fireplace mantel. The orange at the bottom of the stocking symbolizes the gold that was left by St. Nick. (1) Think about this if you celebrate Christmas and you find a juicy orange at the bottom of your stocking.  It is a delightful treat that generations of children and adults alike have enjoyed! Readers please let us know of another fable or take of why oranges are sometimes placed into the bottom of Christmas stockings. It would be fun to hear from you.

Definition of citrus fruits gives the definition as the fruit of the tree or bush of the genus Citrus. The fruits include lemon, lime, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, citron, kumquat and shaddock. (2) Lemon, limes, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit are very common fruits to eat in the United States.

Information on different Citrus Fruits

For information on the fruit including nutritional information: 

Contraindications to eating some citrus fruits:

  1. Citrus intolerance or allergy
  2. Some common medications taken by people with diabetes can have severe adverse reactions with eating or drinking grapefruit, Seville oranges, limes and pomelo products. Studies have shown that reactions can happen if these fruits are consumed before or after 24 hours of taking the medications. For more information on this very serious adverse reaction and for information on some of the medications visit my blog How Grapefruit and Other Citrus Fruits Interact with Certain Medications. 
  3. Ask your medical team if there are any other contraindications

Two new recipes for you to try featuring Citrus for Christmas:

“Skinny” Orange Pleasures 

This recipe is wonderful to make for children and adults alike.

Recipe By: Clara Schneider, MS, RD, RN, CDE, LDN
Make this for:  Dessert
Category: Desserts
This Recipe Makes: 16 Serving(s) of 1 orange bowl
What you'll need
•    8 medium oranges (need only the rinds)
•    2 packages (0.30 or 8.5 g) of orange sugar-free gelatin
•    Water
•    Light whipped cream from a pressurized container (1 tablespoon per “bowl” or 16 tablespoons)
•    16 mandarin orange pieces (from canned in juice)

•    Step 1
Take individual oranges and cut them in half (between the 2 ends)
•    Step 2
Use a sharp knife to cut the edible part of the orange out of the rind. Take care not to damage the rind as it will be the “bowl” for the dessert. Dry out the “bowl with a paper towel
•    Step 3
Make the gelatin according to package directions with the hot water. Only use ½ cup cold water instead of 1 cup for each package of gelatin
•    Step 4
Pour the gelatin into the orange “bowls”
•    Step 5
Put into refrigerator to harden
•    Step 6
Right before serving, top each bowl with 1 tablespoons of whipped cream and 1 mandarin orange section
•    Step 7
Serve immediately
Diabetic Exchanges
•    This is a free food if one serving is consumed , it is a low calorie recipe

Spring Mix salad with Orange and Fennel

Recipe By: Clara Schneider, MS, RD, RN, CDE, LDN
Make this for:  Lunch or Dinner
Category: Salads
This Recipe Makes: 10 Serving(s)
What you'll need
For the Salad Dressing
•    3 ounces fresh orange juice
•    2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
•    1 tsp of orange zest
•    2 tablespoons canola oil
•    2 Tablespoons of dried tarragon
•    ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
•    1 packet of sugar substitute (stevia used in the analysis)

For the Salad

•    10 cups mixed leafy greens (Spring mix salad)
•    2 large easy to peel oranges
•    1 large fresh fennel bulb
•    ¼ large sweet red pepper cut in small pieces
•    1/4 cup cashew pieces (dry roasted without salt)

•    Step 1
Mix together all ingredients for the dressing in a medium container with a lid that seals.
•    Step 2
Wash and clean fennel bulb (cut off the stems and leaves). Cut the bulb in half cut out and discard the tough core. Cut fennel bulb halves into 3/8 X 1 inch bite sized pieces
•    Step 3
Peel oranges, separate sections and cut into bite sized pieces
•    Step 4
Mix together lettuce and fennel and red pepper and place into large serving bowl or plate
•    Step 5
Drizzle salad dressing on top
•    Step 6
Cover salad with orange slices and nuts and mix gently. Refrigerate if not using immediately
Diabetic Exchanges
•    Non-starchy vegetables:1
•    Fruit: 1/3 exchange
•    Fat: 1

This recipe is low in sodium, high in vitamin A and vitamin C

Please also do not forget to look at some of the recipes we already have on They are located here: 

We at hope you enjoy citrus for Christmas as long as there are no contraindications. Enjoy the holidays.