Try a Pomegranate

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One bright red winter fruit that begins appearing in our stores this time of year is the pomegranate. California is the leading producer of pomegranates in the United States, but we also get them from Arizona and Texas. They are usually readily available from October through December. If you’re picking a fresh pomegranate, get one that is plump, round, and heavy for its size. Cracking around the crown of the fruit is a hint that the fruit is ripe.

Nutritionally, pomegranates are low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium free. They are high in fiber, vitamin K, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), copper, and an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium. An average pomegranate contains about 100 calories and 25 grams of sugar.

Whole pomegranates should be stored in a cool dry area for about a month and will keep in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to two months. The seeds can be frozen. Sometimes you can find pomegranate arils (the seeds) in little cups in the produce section of the grocery store where the work of peeling has been done for you. But if you’ve never had a fresh pomegranate, I’d encourage you to give it a try.

Here are some tips: Slice off the ends carefully and score the hard outer shell in quarters with a knife. Submerge the pomegranate in cold water and gently pull it apart. Keeping the pomegranate under the water allows you to remove the juicy arils from the membranes without getting the juice all over yourself and your clothes. The arils will sink to the bottom and the rinds will float to the surface. Skim off the membranes and drain the arils in a colander. The average pomegranate contains about 600 arils which add up to about ¾ of a cup.

pomegranate seeds

The arils can be eaten raw, cooked, or juiced. The seeds should be stored in the refrigerator and are best if eaten within four days. In addition to eating them just as they are, the pomegranate arils can be used in salads, added to yogurt or oatmeal, or put on top of fish, meat, waffles, or pancakes. Pomegranate juice may be more familiar than the fruit itself and 100% juice can be found year-round. Pomegranate juice is the basis for Grenadine.

Here’s a recipe from our Med instead of Meds program that combines two
winter fruits: citrus fruits and pomegranates.

Note: the recipe for the
Honey Roasted Chickpeas can be found on the Med instead of Meds
website. It is recommended that you prepare the citrus fruit in this salad using a supreme cut. This is a way to prepare citrus fruits that remove the skin, seeds, and membranes and cuts them into slices.

Winter Citrus Salad

Dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp. Orange Juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Lime Juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 small clove Garlic – minced or pressed
  • Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salad:

  • 1 large head Bibb Lettuce- separate and cut into large chiffonade
  • 4 citrus fruits, a combination of blood orange, pink grapefruit, navel orange, clementine, Cara Cara orange or mandarin orange, supreme cut
  • 1 Avocado, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 small Shallot – thinly sliced
  • ½ English (Seedless) Cucumber – thinly sliced
  • Handful of fresh Mint or Parsley – torn
  • ½ Cup Pomegranate seeds
  • 1/3 Cup Walnuts – toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 Cup Honey Roasted Chickpeas

Directions:

  1. Make the dressing: In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, honey, Dijon, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. While whisking, stream in the olive oil. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper and adjust for sweetness with more honey if desired (Dressing will keep in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for a week.)
  2. Assemble the salad: Layer lettuce with oranges, avocado, shallots, cucumber, and fresh herbs. Sprinkle with pomegranate, walnuts, and crispy chickpeas.
  3. To serve: Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately

Serves 4 (two cup servings). Each serving contains 548 calories, 13 grams of fiber, 9 grams of protein, and 36 grams of fat.

Med instead of Meds was developed by NC State Cooperative Extension and the NC Division of Public Health. Med instead of Meds encourages the Mediterranean-style eating pattern that has been shown to promote health and decrease the risk of many chronic diseases. Eating the med way may result in decreasing your need for medications—hence the name.

Many other recipes and videos about Med instead of Meds.


Cheryle Syracuse wrote this article and more similar ones for the Family and Consumer Sciences Column in the Brunswick Beacon. Syracuse is an FCS team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, 910.253.2610 or by email at cheryle_syracuse@ncsu.edu.