Discerning Diner...with Elan Head
Celebrate the new year: Juice it up

As I write this, Iím sick in bed with a lousy cold, something that seems to happen to me frequently over the holidays.

(My New Yearís resolution this year? Get well soon.)

I donít know what you like to eat when youíre under the weather, but as a native New Mexican, I dose myself with chile: posole, tamales and as much hot salsa as I can stand.

As they say, it really clears out the sinuses.

The other thing Iíve been craving, though, is fresh Arizona citrus. And since citrus is in season now, I shouldnít lack for Vitamin C.

Does Vitamin C really help ward off colds? As I understand it, the evidence yea or nay is inconclusive.

Yet citrus fruit is so generally good for you, loading up on it surely canít hurt. And even if orange juice has some placebo effect, well, pass the pitcher.

Orange juice, of course, is citrus fruit in its most popular incarnation. The process of making it at home couldnít be more straightforward (Step One: squeeze oranges) and a glass of sweet, fresh-squeezed orange juice is perfection itself.

Not that there arenít ways to--so to speak--juice it up a little. I like to cut orange juice with sparkling water, which has the favorable side effect of cutting calories.

When calories arenít a concern, nothing is more festive than the classic mimosa, which is simply orange juice and sparkling wine in equal proportions.

Donít waste your best champagne on this one, but donít settle for swill, either. I use the good, reasonably priced sparkling wines made in my home state by Gruet, which start at around $8.

On the topic of tonics, have you ever made a greyhound? A shot of good gin with the chilled juice of one large grapefruit brings with it a promise to cure whatever ails you.

Citrus fruits of all types are excellent in salads, and one of my favorite simple recipes is my mother-in-lawís grapefruit-avocado salad.

To begin, use a sharp knife to section a large grapefruit. The easiest way to do this is with the peel still attached: Slice the top and bottom off of the grapefruit, then, cutting just deep enough to remove the membrane, slice away longitudinal strips of peel.

Next, slice between the flesh and membrane of each exposed segment. As you work your way around, these pretty pink segments should fall away from the membrane.

When youíve freed all of the segments, there should still be a little juice left in the membrane. Squeeze some of this into two tablespoons of mayonnaise to make a thin salad dressing.

If the dressing isnít tart enough for your liking, add a little lemon juice. A pressed garlic clove or some thinly sliced red onion are other good additions.

Toss this dressing with salad greens, then toss in the grapefruit segments and slices of avocado. Voila!

Use the same technique to section oranges for salads. You can substitute orange for grapefruit in this recipe. Or, skip the lettuce and make a salad by tossing orange segments, avocado slices and a little red onion in a simple vinaigrette.

Itís the perfect side dish for a bowl of posole.