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Caribbean Grapefruit-ade [BVI Food Recipe]

Impending New Year’s resolutions often loom in the back of one’s mind during December’s many holiday parties and celebrations. Fortunately, the season to be jolly is also the season for fresh citrus in the Virgin Islands. Get a jumpstart on a healthier 2013 by incorporating grapefruit into your diet.

In my experience, people have a love-hate relationship with grapefruit. They either love it or think they hate it, probably because they haven’t had an opportunity to like it. I did not start out as a grapefruit enthusiast. However, shortly after my husband Matt and I were married, I learned that Matt loved grapefruit. We had recently moved to Chicago and as winter approached, Matt began sectioning a grapefruit for us each morning. Not only did I learn to enjoy my daily grapefruit, but I was 100% healthy that winter, nearly unheard of during a Chicago winter. We starting believing that “a grapefruit a day keeps the BVI doctor away.” A dozen years later, Matt and I still eat grapefruit nearly every day during the wintertime, and our 2 year-old daughter now shares our affinity for the fruit.

My first introduction to Caribbean grapefruit occurred while sailing in Dominica. Matt and I had barely dropped anchor in Portsmouth Bay when vendors offering fresh fruit started paddling out on surfboards to meet us. We happily purchased a variety of fruit, including gorgeous pink grapefruit. During a hike the next day, our guide told us that so much grapefruit grows on the lush hillsides of Dominica that residents could never pick it all. Indeed, we saw hundreds of grapefruits rotting on the ground—a frustrating sight for someone who grew up in a cold climate lacking locally-produced citrus. While in Dominica we feasted on all the fresh fruit we could eat, including grapefruit for breakfast each morning.

If your consumption of grapefruit is limited to the popular Jamaican grapefruit-based soda Ting, you’re missing out on the delicious pleasure and serious health benefits of fresh grapefruit. (Full disclosure: I’m a big fan of Ting and rarely set sail without it.) Grapefruit is high in vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber, and low in calories. I think of it as one of my personal superfoods.

A grapefruit needs or wants very little in the way of preparation. Although grapefruit is sometimes used in lettuce or fruit salads, it is usually eaten plain—perhaps with a sprinkle of sugar—or squeezed for juice. I like to add water and sugar to freshly squeezed grapefruit juice for a refreshing beverage, as I learned from a guide while hiking in Dominica. Top your drink with a little sparkling water for a homemade and all natural version of Ting. It’s a wonderfully refreshing beverage whether you’re doing a serious hike or some serious lounging on the beach.

A few tips about grapefruit: choose fruit that’s heavy for its size and has thin, smooth skin. Grapefruit trees are scattered across hillsides throughout the BVI and bear fruit in the winter months. Look for grapefruits for sale occasionally at roadside stands or supermarkets. Better yet, find a friend who has a fruit tree on his property.

To prepare, peel the grapefruit like an orange, separate the sections and eat out of hand. Or, cut in half and section it, my preferred way to eat the fruit. A small grapefruit knife makes quick work of preparing grapefruit and is a useful utensil if you eat grapefruit frequently, but a small paring knife will also do

If healthier eating is your New Year’s resolution, grapefruit is a perfect fit: vitamin-packed, delicious and in-season right now in the Caribbean.



Adjust the sugar content depending on the tartness of the grapefruit.


3 c freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

1 1/2 c water

3 Tbl sugar (preferably superfine)

Combine all ingredients in a covered pitcher and shake very well. If possible, refrigerate a few hours before serving. Serves 4.

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