Last week, I was in the produce section of the grocery store with my husband, Jason, and he asked me if I liked pomegranates. My reply, honestly, I have never tried one before. He was quite surprised--especially since I am usually up to par on trendy and in vogue foods and pomegranates have been in the news a lot recently. He happens to love the juice, so since they were on sale (2 for $4), I deducted they must be in season and it was time for me to give a pomegranate a taste.
What was the main reason for my avoidance of pomegranates for the past 28 years? Well there are two reasons the first being I had no idea how to cut one and the second being I heard they are a mess to eat. So after googling "How to Cut a Pomegranate"--I realized that I was not alone. There are a million websites dedicated to properly cutting the fruit. We liked this one the best because it has a pictorial along with a description of the 7 (yes, 7) step process. The California Pomegranate website says cutting the fruit takes only 3 steps--but for a novice--I think the 7 steps are necessary and cause less of a mess!
Needless to say--once we (and by we, I mean, Jason) cut it open (there was a slight mess)--I was pleasantly surprised and wondering why I had taken so long to try one! They are really delicious, and actually sort of fun to eat. The seeds are crunchy and juicy--plus they are super healthy and there are so many seeds to eat that it feels like the fruit that keeps on giving! A medium pomegranate yields about 1 cup of seeds, known as arils, 140 calories, 32 grams of carbs, 7 grams of fiber and 410 grams of potassium. I ate about half the seeds and saved the rest for breakfast the next morning.
Pomegranates grow on small trees and are harvested from August through the Middle of November (in the U.S.). Peak season is right about now through December. When purchasing a pomegranate, you should look for one that is free from imperfections, such as cracks and dense feeling (the heavier it is, the more juice it contains). The biggest reason pomegranates have become known as a super food is because they are full of antioxidants. (A quick side note--Antioxidants are substances in foods that help protect against oxidative damage in the body. When cells use oxygen, they produce free radicals which cause damage. Antioxidants basically work to reverse the damage done by free radicals.) Pomegranates are full of antioxidants called phytochemicals--read more about the nerdy details here--I think it's really interesting, but I'm a nutrition nerd so I'll spare you the details unless you are interested too! Basically, the health benefits of pomegranates have been found to be protective against heart disease, cancer and high cholesterol...just to name a few.
If you don't want to deal with the process of picking out and cutting a pomegranate, you can always buy the juice. It is located in the produce section of the grocery store--but beware--it is definitely expensive. A 16oz bottle of POM juice is $4. An 8 oz serving contains 158 calories, 40 grams of carbs but none of the fiber. So--I suggest sticking with the fruit. You will be fuller longer and have extra money in your pocket!
The arils are a great snack, a yummy addition to a salad, dessert or as a festive garnish for the holidays. Check out these recipes for different ideas. Next time you are in the grocery store, take a look at the pomegranates--it may be the treat you need to change-up your diet routine.
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