Pomegranates are often overlooked because they can be intimidating, and a pain to eat.
For the uninitiated, there's questions about where to start, and how to get those darn things out of the fruit. Not to mention, some people aren't certain that you can even eat the seed! (Hint: You absolutely can, and should! That's the fiber!)
But despite all of the mystery and any reticence you may have, I want to encourage you to eat MORE of them. Especially now that they're in season!
At least one study indicates that pomegranates have THREE times more antioxidants than green tea or red wine. Pomegranate contains a powerful antioxidant called punicalagin, (the most abundant antioxidant in pomegranate), which is responsible for more than half of pomegranate's antioxidant activity.
Antioxidants help to decrease heart disease risk and reduce the signs of aging. Pomegranates also have antiviral AND antitumor properties.
A few other fun facts:
- Pomegranate has anti-inflammatory effects that may protect against cancer and other chronic diseases.
- Pomegranate is among the few foods that contain natural aromatase inhibitors, which inhibits the production of estrogen and reduces breast cancer risk.
- Two studies have shown that in prostate cancer patients, pomegranate juice or supplements slowed the increase in PSA.
- In a study, pomegranate supplements taken before and after surgery prevented the postoperative memory dysfunction associated with coronary artery bypass or heart valve surgery.
Basically, pomegranates are a nutrition powerhouse and they taste amazing! They truly are the jewel of the fall and winter!
A kitchen hack I use to easily clean pomegranates is as follows. Collect the following:
• A fresh pomegranate
• A large knife
• A large bowl
• A colander
How it works:
- First, fill a large bowl with water.
- Cut the pomegranate in half and then immerse UNDER the water. Pull off the skin and white skin and gently nudge those crimson jewels out.
- The bitter skin will float to the top and the pomegranate seeds will sink to the bottom.
Pomegranates are typically found in the Northern Hemisphere from September to February, and in the Southern Hemisphere from March to May. They can be are used in baking, cooking, juice blends, meal garnishes, smoothies, and alcoholic beverages, such as cocktails and wine.
The number of seeds that are in pomegranate can range from 200 to 1,400. Each seed has a surrounding water-laden pulp -- the edible sarcotesta that forms from the seed coat -- which ranges in color from white to deep red or purple. The seeds (known as arils) are tangy, sweet, and slightly sour.
Pomegranates originated in the region that is now modern-day Iran, and has been cultivated since ancient times.
One of my favourite pomegranate recipes is below. It marries together perfectly the sweetness of pomegranate, the spice of curry and the earthiness of quinoa.
Pomegranate Quinoa Curry Salad
- 2 cups of cooked quinoa
- 1 cup of fresh, chopped parsley
- 1 cup of fresh pomegranate seeds
- 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder, sea salt, and fresh black pepper.
Toss and serve.
Dairy Free, Vegan and Gluten Free
You can eat this salad knowing not only does it taste AMAZING but you are doing your body so much good.
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Buy your vegetables in advance, chop them how you like, and store them in containers in the fridge for the week, says registered dietitian Kiran Bains of edovivo. "You’re more likely to use the healthy food in your fridge when it is convenient and ready to use."
One you get meal prepping down, eating healthy during the day is easy. "When grocery shopping, I choose two proteins that I will enjoy for the week and about five to six different veggies," Bains says. Try making your batches on Sundays and Wednesdays (to keep your menu fresh) and for starches try variations of rice, sweet potatoes, wraps, quinoa and pastas high in fibre.
For some of us this may be a wrap or a stir-fry or a rice bowl. Whatever your favourite meal is, stick to it during the week. "My go-to meals are stir-fries, wraps, soups, and salads when it comes to lunch items and of course, I love using left-overs from my dinner meals whenever possible," she says. If you're having chicken dinner, use leftover pieces for a wrap or salad the next day.
"One of my favourite things to do and easiest ways to get all of your food groups into a meal is to make a soup from leftovers," Bains says. If you're cooking chicken or beef, use the bones to create a broth. To keep things healthy, make sure you add as many vegetables as you can to your pot of soup.
"If you decided to splurge on that sugary baked good that’s been calling your name in the cafeteria, try to find an option that is higher in fibre like a bran cookie or bran muffin," she adds. Not only this, but combine your snack with peanut or almond butter for the added protein.
Keep snacks that are high in healthy fats, fibre and protein at your desk. Try nuts and seeds, fruit and low-sugar granola. And just like snacks, hydration is always important, Bains says. Make sure you keep a water bottle handy.
"Set Outlook reminders to snack throughout the day if you’re one of those people that forgets to eat during the day. Snacking throughout the day and keeping yourself hydrated is a great way to ensure your portions aren’t blown out of the waters when it comes to your main meals," she says. You can also use apps on your phone and set reminders to drink water and eat a healthy snack!
We don't need to tell you which office snacks to avoid. But if you aren't ready to give up your mini doughnuts and chocolate bars just yet, think about portion control. "When I do splurge on sugary items, I like to keep the portion size to just half the size of the palm of my hand in mind," Bains says. "If I’m still hungry, I’ll increase the amount of protein that I’m having with it, to make up for that loss."
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