But do you know that historically the pomegranate has always been greatly admired? Throughout the centuries it’s been regaled for its unique taste and bizarre appearance — tough and mottled on the outside, stunning on the inside with tightly stacked glittering ruby seeds.
Mystery and myth has surrounded this fruit admired by some for its so-called powers of rejuvenation and touted as a beauty food, while held in contempt by others, as a forbidden fruit of knowledge not meant for man. In the 14th century, Arab invaders brought the juicy ruby fruit to the shores of southern Spain. It inspired them to rename one of their conquered cities after the fruit, “Granada” which is the site of one of their most magnificent palaces, the Alhambra – filled with ornate carvings, fountains, and statuary.
Pomegranates get a lot of attention in the health-based media because they are packed with high anti-oxidant rich seeds that contain a host of benefits — from polyphenols, tannins, and one of my favorite compounds of research, anthocyanins (recently studied for their ability to stop fat cells from expanding). Adding plenty of antioxidant-rich foods to your diet can help give your body a big boost — so it’s definitely worth stocking up your fridge with pomegranates. The research says that antioxidants are the answer to slowing the aging process (mainly from inflammation), all the way to protecting eye health, improving the quality of your skin, and helping your hard-working heart.
Pomegranate is in season October to January (though you can find the juice year-round) and you can even attend the wonderful pomegranate festival held in November. When you enjoy the whole fruit, there is no need to let pomegranates ripen — when you get them home, they are ready to enjoy. Ripe juicy pomegranates should feel heavy and the skin should be firm without soft spots. Surface nicks or scratches don’t affect the quality of the seeds or “arils”, but use your pomegranate within three days of purchase. Store on your counter top to use in these fifteen fun ways:
15 Fun Ways to Use Pomegranate
- Mix a few tablespoons of pomegranate juice with equal parts of balsamic vinegar and olive oil for an exotic marinade.
- Or make this anti-oxidant powerhouse salad, Peanut Pom Salad — made with kale, spinach, peanuts, and pomegranate.
- Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over your favorite comforting creamy soup, like butternut squash or butternut risotto or on pumpkin soup for a beautiful garnish with a burst of juiciness.
- For the serious gourmet, try this exquisite dipping sauce for sushi or hamachi crudo.
- Freeze pomegranate juice in an ice cube tray for gorgeous ice cubes to flavor your sparkling water or to add to a blender with tequila for a fast pomegranate margarita.
- Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on your favorite rice dish such as this farro salad with arugula and feta.
- Fold pomegranate seeds into homemade guacamole or salsa, for a healthy gourmet twist that adds texture and contrast.
- Make this gorgeous pomegranate coconut shrimp and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds.
- Make a topping to perk up sauteed greens: combine 1 cup chopped black olives with 1 cup of pomegranate seeds and mint or cilantro.
- Or stir pomegranate juice into amazing probiotic kefir to make pink “yogurt” pops that have helpful cultures that may improve your child’s immunity and soothe eczema break-ups.
- Peeling seeds from fresh pomegranates can be a pain, I won’t lie. But if you want a low-cal, super healthy food to pick on while you watch a movie, picking tasty seeds to pop in your mouth is a perfect replacement for heavily buttered popcorn.
- Creamy sauces and perky pomegranate seeds (also called arils) make a super gourmet presentation. Try making these chilies with a creamy walnut sauce and top it with pomegranate arils.
- Throwing a fun fall celebration? Make festive ice cubes. Place 1 tablespoons of pomegranate arils into each ice cube holder and fill with water. Freeze at least 4 hours then serve with your favorite drink.
- Make a superfood whipped topping with Greek yogurt and pomegranate juice or seeds. Place 1 cup of low-fat Greek yogurt in a mixer with 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Whip until smooth. If using pomegranate juice, whip in 2 tablespoons 100% unsweetened pomegranate juice. Or add 2 tablespoons pomegranate arils and fold in with a rubber spatula.
- Pomegranate pork chops? Yes please! Mix 1/4 cup pomegranate juice with 1 tablespoon molasses and 1 tablespoon olive oil in ziplock bag. Add 2 chops, seal, and shake. Refrigerate over night. Bake the chops at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through then serve.