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RealFood Recipes: Pomegranate power

By H.K. Jones

RealFood Recipes is a weekly series featuring a great tasting and healthful food by nutritionist expert H.K. Jones, as well as an easy-to-make recipe using that food. Want to recommend a food and recipe for other RealJock readers? Send an email to realfoods@realjock.com.

Bursting with seeds, the pomegranate has long been revered as a symbol of health, fertility and prosperity. Pomegranates are mean green (well, technically red) free radical fighting machines. And that’s good news for you and your cells.

Antioxidants are naturally occurring substances in plants that protect the body from free radicals by neutralizing them before cells are damaged. And pomegranates are chock-full of these important disease-fighting compounds. In addition, a whole pomegranate has only around 100 calories and provides a day's worth of vitamin C, as well as other good-for-you vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

To find a good pomegranate, select one that is heavy for its size with skin that appears shiny and free of blemishes and cracks. The larger the fruit, the sweeter it will be, as it will have more juice.

Pomegranates, like apples, have a long storage life of approximately two weeks. It is best to store them out of direct sunlight in a cool, dark place, and by storing them in the refrigerator you extend their shelf life up to two months or more. They are fully ripe and ready to eat when they develop a distinctive red color and make a metallic sound when tapped.

Inside is a mass of edible seeds, encased in a translucent sac of crimson pulp that is held together by segments of bitter inedible yellow membrane. The juice of this versatile fruit can be made into a vibrant syrup when reduced, or used in marinades or as a glaze for poultry and fish. And the seeds provide a tart, crisp addition to salads, desserts, waffles, smoothies, yogurt and more. Or they can be enjoyed simply by the handful, like small berries.

Pomegranate Relish
Seeds of 2 medium pomegranates
1 tablespoon finely chopped orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Mix all ingredients together and serve with turkey, pork, chicken, or fish.