Lemon Citrus Granita on the Amalfi Coast, Italy

Nothing is as cleansing and refreshing as a lemon citrus granita!

Clean, clean, clean . . . the theme for January to kick off the new year of 2013 for the Cooking Light Virtual Supper  Club.

So PERFECT!

I don’t know about you, but I have always loved New Year’s Day!  I don’t make any specific resolutions, but I do vow to make positive changes in many areas of my life.  Last year I promised myself to clean up my nutrition.  I kept my promise to myself, lost weight, tightened up a (little) bit, and now feel so much better (and lighter too)!

I also pledged to clean out the clutter in my home . . . check!  And it’s still going on!   We paid off several bills and cut down our spending in general to stay true to our resolution to simplify our lives and focus more on what is important to us.  Our goal is to keep plugging away at this one so that some day I can retire!

Even if you don’t make resolutions, you can’t deny that it’s great to clean up anything in our lives:  whether that be our homes, all of that distracting, useless clutter, or our nutrition . . . clean is good!

But the ‘clean eating’ lifestyle certainly is NOT an easy approach to eating.  For the most part, I agree with many of the guidelines, but this style of eating loses me in several areas (that I’ll point out later).  Put simply, the focus of clean eating is to consume food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible.

Fresh fruit is a big part of this style of eating since fruit can be enjoyed so much without any cooking.  And since it’s winter when citrus is at it’s peak of freshness, I chose to prepare a granita of lemons and orange for this month’s ‘clean’ theme.


BUT, and this is a really big ‘but‘:  One of the challenges of the ‘clean eating’ approach:  NO sugar is allowed.  That’s a toughy for many of us, at least I know that it is for me and especially for my husband.  Granita requires sugar added to the squeezed juice from fresh fruit.  So I replaced it with Stevia, which is allowed in the clean eating philosophy.  For this month’s ‘clean’ theme, I’ll make that one little change.  But other than this one time, I’m going straight back to using sugar, which is what the Cooking Light recipe uses anyway!  And I trust Cooking Light!

Lemon Citrus Granita

What You Need:

  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups sugar (substitute 'Stevia' for a pure 'clean' recipe)
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (about 4 oranges)

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 1 minute or until sugar dissolves; stir constantly.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Cool completely.
  • Pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  • Cover; freeze at least 8 hours or until firm.
  • Remove dish from freezer, and scrape the entire mixture with a fork until fluffy.
  • Store the remaining granita in an airtight container.
  • Cover and freeze up to 1 month.
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Slice open 4 – 5 oranges and 3 – 4 lemons, depending on your flavor preferences.
Fresh citrus is in high season right now, so they’re perfect for fresh granita!
Squeeze the lemons and oranges and blend together in a bowl.
Bring the lemon-orange juice-sugar/Stevia-water mixture to a boil.
Cook for one minute until sugar dissolves.
Allow the mixture to cool completely.
Pour into a baking pan.
Place in the freezer for 8 hours to firm up.
the granita in a solid frozen state
with a fork, chip away ice flakes from the solid granita
the first layer is a little hard to chip off but once the first layer is chipped away,
the process is very easy and fast
have chilled glasses ready to put the granita in before it melts
I also put each filled glass in the freezer while filling the other glasses
Mmmm, a glass full of sweet and tangy granita!
From my October trip to the Amalfi Coast in Italy,
one of the numerous fruit stands hanging on the edge of the cliff,
where I bought an outrageously delicious, fresh-squeezed lemon granita!
I went back to buy several more!
With the cliffs of the Amalfi coast mountainside in the background,
this little cup of sweet-tart freshly squeezed lemon granita
was simply perfect, especially on a hot afternoon!
In the little village of Praiano, Italy
my mother and I attended the annual Festival for St. Luke the Evangelist.
People had food and fruit stands set up in the small piazza.
Here was one very tempting lemon granita stand.

Now, if you’re interested in knowing more about the trendy new “clean eating” lifestyle, here are a few additional ways to incorporate it into your own life:

  • Always focus on eating foods in their most natural or close-to-natural states.
  • Eat five to six small meals a day, grazing only when hungry (this includes snacks).  This maintains your blood sugar levels and keeps your metabolism churning all day long
  • Include a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables during each meal — basically eat more plants than meats.
  • Meats are allowed, but only purchase fresh cuts from a butcher, never pre-packaged.
  • Include grains such as brown rice, whole wheat and other whole grains.
  • Drink lots of water . . . at least 8 glasses of water daily
  • Eliminate drinking alcohol except an occasional glass of red wine for the antioxidants — this would be difficult for me, as well as for most Europeans who enjoy wine with nearly every meal . . . and still live healthy lifestyles
  • Avoid drinking carbonated sodas, even ‘diet’ sodas; avoid packaged fruit ‘drinks’, drink water with citrus juice for flavor
  • Avoid processed and refined foods (including sugar, white bread, white pasta, and white flour)  — I would fail this approach right here with this point!  If you look at the natives of the Mediterranean (where I was just visiting Italy in October), you’d see how THIN they are while at the same time enjoying sugar in granitas, gelate, tortas, and pastries.  They also enjoy pasta from ‘white’ semolina flour and enjoy fresh-baked white artisanal breads.  The reason?   They walk EVERYWHERE! . . . so I could never buy into this approach completely.  The Mediterranean Diet has been famous for years and it’s very close to the ‘clean eating’ diet, just more forgiving!  All other points of this philosophy are doable for me though.
  • Stay away from any foods with saturated and trans fats, or foods that are fried.
  • Include healthy fats such as olive oil, sesame oil, or peanut oil, cheese, nuts, avocados, seeds or fish daily.
  • Read labels and purchase foods that contain only one to five ingredients
  • Avoid foods that state ‘fat free’ on the labels due to the chemicals contained within those foods
Happy, HEALTHIER 2013!
Your comments make me smile and I promise to get back to you. I may be slow at it because I get easily distracted by something brewing in the kitchen or hummingbirds in my gardens.

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Comments

  1. Very informative Roz and a great introduction the the new year and cleaning up our act. I think the goal would be to do the best we can. Driving along the Amalfi Coast you had much more of an opportunity to visit roadside stands and little hidden places. Thanks for bringing this refreshing dessert to the table.

    • I learned alot from this month’s theme, Val! I love most of the plan, and think it makes a lot of sense! Next time you go to Amalfi, you’ll need to brave the driving bit, and visit some of the roadside stands!

  2. I wondered about “clean eating” and am happy that I do follow most of the guidelines. Have greatly reduced my sugar intake over the years (and white flour) but not eliminated it. The granita is just thirst quenching! Although it’s a little chilly here right now – save for a day above freezing! I wonder if sugar is actually better for you than Stevia (unless you have health problems). I just finished going through my Italy photos (to finally print them) and just looked with awe at the gorgeous Amalfi Coast! Here to enjoying food in its most natural state in 2013!

    • I completely agree Claudia. I don’t think sugar in moderation is a bad thing. If it was, then Cooking Light would never use it as an ingredient in their successful recipes! But like you, eating in a more natural state is a GREAT goal for a lifetime! Happy New Year up there in Minnesota! I still remember the freezing temps that we experienced over Christmas when we were in Iowa! Bundle up!

  3. What a great description of ‘clean eating’. Love your granita.

  4. Your description is quite educational and the granita is just plain appetizing, even without real sugar. (I’ve never tried Stevia — you’re convincing me.) Although I do already incorporate many (not all) of the clean eating principles, I can do better! And if you keep sharing pictures of Amalfi, well, I’m booking a trip! Happy New Year!

    • So far I’m not sold on Stevia, just using it for this theme of ‘clean eating’. But you use what is best for you Rosemary. You must visit the Amalfi Coast . . . it’s truly a bucket list MUST DO!

      Buon Anno!

  5. Roz~ I am glad you are back with us for the Virtual Supper Club. You always have a fresh view on recipes!
    I am whisked right back to Amalfi with your description of Granita ~ I spent a week in Positano last May.
    Need I say more?????
    Bellisimo~

  6. looks refreshing, happy new year

  7. I feel like I have been out of touch throughout the whole holiday season, its so refreshing to come here and see gorgeous photos’… Hope you had a marvelous HOliday Season and thanks for your visit … now to play catch up!!! Happy New Year Bella!

  8. Ciao Roz,

    thank you for your visit, and what a lovely granita!!

    I tried to add mine to your list of followers but I must have something wrong gong on with my account, I keep getting “error 404″…?????

    Anyway, lovely to meet you, and I will be back :-) .

    Ciao
    Alessandra

  9. I could never totally give up sugar or all “white” flours and yet I still like to think I do pretty well! This granita looks delicious. Citrus desserts are what I’ve been craving lately!

  10. Deliziosa la tua granita. Un abbraccio, buon 2013, Daniela.

  11. My mouth waters reading this post ;-) The granita looks delightful.

  12. wow. I admire you for the patience of making granita by hand! on the beaches in Italy sometimes you can still find grattachecca, hand-made granita like yours, which is totally delightful. yours is even better because you made the syrup yourself starting from freshly sqeezed juice. thumb up!

  13. Wow, Roz! Excellent post! Granitas are such a chill treat! I learned far more about ‘clean eating’ here in your post than I found just poking about on the Net. Thanks for all the info!

  14. Love the elegant, tasty look of your citrus granita, Roz.

    BTW Truvia – as you may know – is also a fantastic zero calorie sugar substitute . (It’s found at Whole Foods and Gelsons in California.) I love it because it has that granulated sugar texture without the calories.

    Votre santé! Cheers to heatlh and happiness!

  15. Happy New Year Roz! I am a huge granita fan, to the point of being an addict. I think I’ve tried over 50 combinations and next to coffee, the fruit based are my favorite.

    I think clean eating is quite similar to the way my grandma ate… like a back to basics style of eating we should never have discounted lol

  16. Love this post, and your blog in general U.S. Roz. Thanks for all the recipes and inspiration. BIG happy and healthy 2013 to you and your whole family. Hugs. Canadian Roz.

  17. Your granita is just the perfect thing for a clean start to the year! I know what you mean about those wonderful lemons from the Amalfi coast – so sweet and delicious . . .

  18. Thank you for this wonderful granita recipe. It brought back many fond memories of my travels in Italy.
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