Broiled grapefruit

If December is about eating, and January is about failed dieting, then February is all about “try try again-ing.”  But let’s be honest. Swimsuit season is still far away enough to ignore. So when it comes to eating right and exercising more, let’s pledge to do better, but not our very best. We’ll do our level best come March.  Promise.

For February, lets try some Old School dieting. “Slimming” or “reducing” as our Grandmothers called it. You know, open-faced-patty-melts-with-cottage-cheese-and-cling-peaches-in-syrup type of thing. Seriously. That was my grandmother Katie’s weekly diet plate order at the Star Market lunch counter. Another grandmother of mine (I had four altogether) migrated to Florida every winter, in a packed to the gills Cadillac, driving down Interstate 95 in a parade with all the other retired New Yorkers. Her name was Wetona. Or “Toni” for short. I’m gonna go out on a limb here (which I can because I have no surviving grandparents) and say that Toni had the most fun of all my grandmothers. She was in the Womens’ Navy Corps during World War II. She wore bright red lipstick and drawn on eyebrows. She was an early adopter of those blue things you put in your toilet tank to turn the flush water aqua. Toni liked her flowers plastic, and she liked ’em better if they had glitter on ’em too.

Toni and my grandfather, Rodger, would send us a box of mixed citrus every winter. I was a weird kid. I loved getting a box of fruit. Even weirder, my favorite things in the box were the grapefruit. The more sour-sweet, the better.  Florida grapefruit are at their peak ripeness in February, and even though Toni and Rodger are no longer with us, I still send myself a box of Florida citrus every year via the internet.

While I usually eat my grapefruit plain, I do occasionally like to eat it fancy. Topped with a little brown sugar, cinnamon, a splash of Cointreau (fancy, huh?) and garnished with a bright red maraschino cherry in Toni’s memory. With a side of black coffee, and maybe some dry toast, it’s a 1950’s Dieter’s Delite breakfast.

What “diet foods” do you remember from your youth? Let us know in the comment section below.

Toni’s Broiled Grapefruit


Broiled Grapefruit with Brown Sugar, Cinnamon & Cointreau

Prep time: 4 Min
Cook time: 7 Min
Total time: 11 Min


1 Grapefruit

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons Cointreau or other orange flavored liqueur


Preheat broiler.

Slice grapefruit across the middle and section with a grapefruit sectioning knife. Place both halves cut side up in broil proof dish. Sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon & Cointreau over both halves. (Halve amount of each if only broiling one half.)

Place grapefruit halves approximately four inches below broiler. Begin checking after 4 minutes has passed. Once sugar has melted and browned in spots, remove, allow to cool, top with maraschino cherry, and serve.


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  • By: Kristine

    I’ve done the brown sugar and cinnamon but never with Cointreau. Yum. I also do maple syrup!

  • By: Katherine

    What a treat to see this weird old favorite! It was something I looked forward to having at my grandmother’s house . . . she was the one who took the time to cut around the edge and then all the sections so that they could be easily lifted out. She also placed a red hot candy on every other section. They semi-melted into the fruit as it warmed, making a delicious sticky cinnamony sauce. That’s just the way I still make this breakfast treat, and it makes a cold winter morning something to look forward to. And after you finish the fruit pieces, you squeeze the grapefruit juice into your spoon to get the last of the cinnamony goodness. Right? Thanks for the reminder. I’m off to the produce market . . .

  • By: Linda Owens

    My grandmother always put a little salt in her coffee and just a tad of sugar on her grapefruit.

  • By: Mary

    We ate broiled grapefruit as children, but made with honey versus brown sugar.

  • By: Vicki Crabtree

    I learned to make broiled grapefruit on a field trip to a cooking school at the old White Lily Flour plant in Knoxville TN with my girl scout troop many, many years ago. I remember my Mom dieting on a can of tuna, saltine crackers and black coffee or canned pineapple and cottage cheese. This brought back so may wonderful memories. Thank you guys.

  • By: Cari Burk

    I remember being a teenager and my mom eating a plate with a bare hamburger patty, cottage cheese, and a tomato slice all sitting in their separate corners on the plate, all neat and tidy

  • By: 1chicken

    We get wonderful ruby grapefruit here in Texas; grown in South Texas, they’re sweet, plentiful and cheap….$3.00 for a 5 lb. bag. I love to juice them, and a word of caution: some medications efficacy is compromised by grapefruit juice (I’m sure Brent knows this).

    • By: Marata

      I just ate a Texas grapefruit from our local store in California. I was so excited it was from Texas, my husband thought I was nuts…. I hadn’t eaten one in years and it was delicious,

  • By: Magdalen

    At this chilly time of year, I’ll give it 30 seconds in the microwave without sugar or spice.

  • By: Linda

    A blast from the past! A favorite memory of my Mom is her broiled grapefruit. Another 1950’s diet food = cottage cheese.

  • By: Judy Deaton

    Yummy, another way is to top the grapefruit with a mild melting cheese (goat cheese?) and grill it. My family always loved it. I am going to give this one to my sweetie.

  • By: Suzanne Stagg

    Broiled grapefruit has always been a favorite since the mid 50’s, when my father took me to Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales, Fl. They serve it as a palate cleanser between courses. Theirs is made with honey and served in special bowls that they make in their pottery. The restaurant made a very lasting impression on me and 6 years ago I finally returned and it was exactly the same. From the moment you enter, wonderful aromas come to greet you. They still have different china for each placesetting and at night the place actually twinkles with the indoor and outdoor lighting. They are also known for their soups, including their “Moon” soup, which is a romaine soup (also served in a unique bowl that is made on the premises) that actually was requested by the astronauts to be served aboard the spacecraft that landed on the moon. Josh and Brent, since romance is in the air, I highly recommend that you pay a visit to Chalet Suzanne for dinner and be sure to reserve a room and spend the night, as it is a magical place, complete with it’s own airstrip.

    • By: Glenda

      This Almost make me want to visit Florida.I made broiled grapefruit back in the 50s (I’m 80 now) but still running a small B&B in The Finger Lakes. I think I’ll try the grapefruit on my guests–if they are allowed to eat it (medications). I love it!!

  • By: Susan and Ben Pontious

    This was used as a starter for a special occasion dinner at my grandmothers house. I also remember fruit cocktail or shrimp cocktail being served. The starters were always my favorite part of the meal.
    For dieting, it was half a canned peach filled with cottage cheese with a cherry on top.
    I found grapefruit spoons at a restaurant supply store several years ago.

  • By: Jane

    Oh yes….at Christmas time our neighbor would make homemade mincemeat pie. Boy was that good. She would also make up her own Chex mix……the real deal…….not like today’s packaged deal!

  • By: Jane

    I love grapefruit but can’t eat them taking statin drugs! I loved getting marzipan fruit for Christmas. Santa would put a small box in my stocking. They were so cute and oh so delicious. Later I found out that they came from a local bakery. I have had some that sadly did not come close to ” Santa’s”! That baker is now a parking lot:(

  • By: Nona

    I love to peel my grapefruit like an orange and snack on the pieces while watching my fav shows! I tell myself its a healthier than ice cream or popcorn 🙂

  • By: Christine Coggeshall

    WOW does that article make me go back in time. Born in ’53, I can close my eyes and see this breakfast and even more so see the plastic flowers with the glitter on them. Then I read a comment about grapefruit spoons!! This is to much. I loved eating grapefruit with a grapefruit spoon. Thanks for the memories, I may have to get online and pick up a few grapefruit spoons.

  • By: darcell

    If anyone knows of a site to buy grapefrult spoons please let me know.

    • By: Dr. Brent

      Hi, Darcell Try going to Replacements, Ltd online. They’ll have plenty of them in many different patterns

      • By: Darcell

        This is a beautiful site. Amazing detail and I can’t believe they have 19th century silver. Lovely.

  • By: Ginger Johannes

    Very similar to what you said… open face patty melt, only I put grilled onions between the patty and the cheese, It would then go under the broiler to get the bit of cheese all melty. It was a great diet lunch. YUM!

  • By: Susan

    Ruby Red grapefruit from Texas is still my favorite! Love scrunching up the halves after you’ve eaten them, and letting all that deliciousness dribble into your mouth!

  • By: meredith@whynot

    I use to eat this with my grandmother and recently was served one at a B&B- good lord it was so good! I am on the list to eat another one soon. And, really not bad for the calorie count.

  • By: Todd Blakely

    My mother would have a lite beer instead of dinner. Just one but nothing else. She did this to get ready for a high school reunion. She got flowers the next day so I guess it worked.

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