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Food of the Month: Pomegranate

 

May Prevent Arthritis

Different studies have discovered that pomegranate juice acts as an enzyme inhibitor which may prevent cartilage deterioration and reduce inflammation. This is particularly helpful for those suffering from arthritis, as it prevents its onset and severity.

Antioxidant Power House

Pomegranates contain three times as many antioxidants as red wine and green tea. In fact, they contain the most antioxidants of any natural food! The human body contains free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage DNA and cell membranes. This may lead to cancer and other diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Antioxidants fight these free radicals and prevent these diseases. Eating pomegranates, which contain antioxidants such as polyphenols, tannins and anthocyanins, can therefore lower a person’s risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s and premature aging.

Cardiovascular Health

The pomegranate contains compounds and enzymes known for keeping low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol from oxidizing and causing atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Pomegranate seeds act a lot like aspirin, keeping blood platelets from sticking together and forming dangerous blood clots. Research also shows that eating pomegranate seeds and drinking pomegranate juice can increase oxygen levels to the heart. A study also found that pomegranates help lower blood pressure among people with hypertension as they contain potassium.

Boosts Immunity

A medium sized pomegranate contains 15% of the daily required vitamin C. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents by boosting immunity.

Dental Care

Consuming pomegranates or pomegranate products reduces dental plaque build-up, which helps decrease the chance of bad breath and gum disease.

Full of Fiber

A single pomegranate contains nearly a quarter of the USDA’s daily recommended amount of dietary fiber, which helps you feel full and maintain a healthy weight.

Note: Pomegranate might interfere with certain medications in the same way that grapefruit juice does, so check with your health practitioner.

Serving Suggestions and Recipes

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  • Add pomegranate to a smoothie recipe, or mix with plain yogurt, or cottage cheese.
  • Start the day with a whole pomegranate. Pomegranate seeds (arils) taste great on their own. The seeds are nutrient dense and you also benefit from the natural juice.
  • Use them to add a burst of flavor, and color to your salads, dips, salsa, rice and other grain pilaf dishes.
  • In muffin recipes, you can replace cranberries or blueberries with pomegranate seeds.
  • Make a pomegranate glaze to drizzle on cooked vegetables or grilled meat. Place pomegranate juice in small sauce pan over medium heat. Add salt, pepper and, if you like, a cinnamon stick. Gently simmer for 20 minutes, until the juice has reduced by at least half. Remove the cinnamon stick and glaze your meat or vegetables or serve on the side.

Tips for Selecting and Storing Pomegranate

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A good quality pomegranate should have rich and fresh color, and have no cuts or blemishes. It should be plump and heavy for its size; avoid those with a dry-looking, wrinkled, or cracked rind.

Whole pomegranate fruits can be stored in a cool and dry place for up to one month. If kept refrigerated, it can last for about two months. Freshly extracted pomegranate juice should however be refrigerated and consumed within three days. Fresh seeds can last two weeks in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic container and frozen seeds can last for many months in the freezer.

To freeze pomegranate seeds, spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Place in a freezer for two hours or until frozen, and transfer frozen seeds to a resealable plastic bag or container.

To deseed a pomegranate:

There are many methods to remove the seeds from a pomegranate. Here is an example of both a dry and wet method.
Pomegranate juice stains, so it is best to work in the kitchen sink.

Dry Method:

  • Cut the pomegranate in half.
  • Turn one half to face down into the bowl. With the spoon, hit the pomegranate to dislodge the seeds from the membrane into the bowl, and repeat with the second half.

Wet Method:

  • Cut off the crown.
  • Score and slice the rind all around, but don’t cut the rind all the way through.
  • Soak the pomegranate face down in cold water for about ten minutes.
  • While the pomegranate is still in the bowl of water, break apart the scored rinds, and remove the seeds from the flesh (the seeds will sink to the bottom of your bowl).
  • Remove the rind and membrane from the bowl with a sieve or spoon.
  • Drain the seeds with a colander and pat dry with a paper towel.

Recipes

1. Pomegranate Salsa

Pomegranate Salsa

2 avocados, peeled and diced

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 12oz can mandarin oranges, drained and coarsely chopped

1 cup pomegranate seeds

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced

2 tablespoons honey

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 cup green onions, sliced

To Make:

Combine avocado and lime juice in bowl and toss gently to combine. Add remaining ingredients and stir gently to combine.

Serve warm.

2. Spinach Pomegranate Salad

Spinach Pomegranate Salad

1 (10 ounce) bag baby spinach leaves, rinsed and drained

1/4 red onion, sliced very thin

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup crumbled feta

1 pomegranate, peeled and seeds separated

4 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette

To Make:

Place spinach in a salad bowl. Top with red onion, walnuts, and feta. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the top, and drizzle with vinaigrette.

3. Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Seeds

Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Seeds

Serves 4

7 cups Brussels sprouts, sliced in half

Olive oil to toss

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup pomegranate seeds

To Make:

      1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with a few drizzles of olive oil. Spread the sprouts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, cut sides down. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the sprouts are tender and deep golden brown on their cut sides and showing some crispy edges.
      2. In a small bowl, whisk the maple syrup, vinegar and salt together. Remove the baking pan from the oven. Drizzle the syrup mixture over and use a spatula to lift the sprouts and gently toss to coat. Spread evenly again.
      3. Return the baking pan to the oven and roast for another 5 minutes. Combine the Brussels sprouts with the pomegranate seeds in a serving bowl and enjoy.