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Eating Well With Whole Foods: Pomegranate

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

Over eight thousand years ago, the pomegranate became one of the first cultivated fruits. Since then, it has been symbolized with prosperity, hope and abundance throughout the world. The luscious fruit has also played – and continues to play – a pivotal role in many cultural wedding ceremonies. The bride would often be given a pomegranate with the wish of her having as many kids as seeds!Its name derives from the Middle French “pomme garnete” and means “seeded apple.”A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, the luxurious, scarlet pomegranate has traditionally been enjoyed for both its decorative beauty in holiday arrangements as well as for its delicious sweet taste and nutritive qualities.

Pomegranates are immensely popular worldwide and are considered a super food because they area powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. Full of flavor and nutrition, while low in calories, they are the perfect go-to snack for anytime. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, and potassium, a key mineral that assists with fluid regulation, and is associated with lowered blood pressure,reduced risk of stroke, and increased bone health. Pomegranates contain an incredibly high level of the three polyphenols – tannins, anthocyanins, andellagic acid – potent antioxidants that have been found to promote healthy cell growth, fight inflammation, and reduce certain cancers.

When purchasing pomegranates, select ones with firm and taut skin. While a smooth outer skin is more aesthetically appealing than a blemished one, surface abrasions do not affect the quality of the fruit. Pomegranates should feel heavy when picked up because they are full of juice. They naturally range in color from a medium to a deep red. Whole pomegranates will last for several days when kept away from sunlight at room temperature and up to three months when refrigerated in plastic bags. Once cut, the seeds can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen up to six months. A simple trick to easily de-seed a pomegranate is to cut off the crown and cut the pomegranate into sections. Next, place the sections into a bowl of water and scoop out the insides. The “arils,” or the glistening white jewels of the pomegranate, will sink to the bottom while the rind and white membrane will easily separate and float to the top. Strain the water and enjoy the arils,seeds and all! They are a simple delicious snack that can be enjoyed alone,squeezed into a juice, or baked into whole grain muffins. My family and I often sprinkle them over our salads, oatmeal, and yogurt.

But first,a warning you may want to heed from my 4 year-old son before cleaning and eating pomegranates: “be sure to wear a black shirt so if you squirt yourself it won’t stain!” This lesson was only learned after many early mornings where he and my husband would eagerly dash downstairs to the kitchen, donning matching white tees, to dive into the pomegranates. Soon afterwards, with sated bellies and taste buds, all that would remain is a whole lot of rind – and two ruby-stained tee-shirts!

Pomegranate and Pear Christmas Salad

1 bunch fresh organic spinach, washed and torn into small pieces

2 TBSP pomegranate seeds

1 pear, halved and thinly sliced

¼red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 TBSP gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

2 TBSP pecans, chopped

Toss spinach with red onion slices in a large serving plate. Fan out pear slices from center of the dish. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds, gorgonzola, and pecans on top. Serve with simple balsamic vinaigrette or your favorite dressing!

Suzann Pileggi Pawelski is a freelance wellness writer who specializes in the science of happiness and how it affects our health and relationships. She is also a certified health coach who works with clients on nourishing their bodies and souls by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. Suzann holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) from the University of Pennsylvania.  She is also a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com,or email her at suzannpileggi@aol.comfor a discounted phone consultation. 

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