By April Graff
Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian
---- — Q: Every year around this time I see pomegranates in the stores, but I have no idea how to eat them. Do you peel them? Do you have any recipes that use pomegranates?
A: As the busyness of the holiday season kicks into high gear, it’s also the peak of the season for pomegranates from California. Pomegranates are the latest in-season jewels of the produce department — the perfect way to dress up any dish for the holiday season.
This big, red fruit is full of crunchy, juice-filled seeds, called arils, that make any dish special with their jewel-like appearance. The juicy, sweet cranberry-like juice with a crunchy seed is a treat, as long as you have a few tips in how to access the seeds in this large fruit.
Start by cutting off the top, about a half-inch below the crown. Then score the fruit with a sharp knife. Open the fruit under a bowl of water, allowing the loose arils to sink to the bottom of the bowl. The underwater method prevents the bright red juice from getting on your clothes as you open the fruit. Discard the bitter, white membrane and strain away the water so you are left with a bowl full of ruby-red arils.
Now you can enjoy these beautiful seeds that contribute potassium, vitamin C and fiber simply on their own by the spoonful, as a garnish for any salad, or mixed into yogurt or your breakfast cereal. Pomegranate arils also add a festive appearance to any bubbly holiday beverage or sprinkled on top of any holiday candy or chocolate-covered pretzel treats you may be making this season.
Arils will keep in the refrigerator for approximately five days or frozen for longer storage. With a NuVal score of 91, pomegranates are a smart seasonal item to add to your shopping cart — and a great stuffer for any stocking — this holiday season.
April Graff, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian at both Mankato Hy-Vee stores and can be reached at AGraff@hy-vee.com or call 625-1107 or 625-9070. Send her questions about food and nutrition, recipes, meal planning and healthy shopping.
Chicken Pomegranate Salad This make-ahead salad is a great way to care for yourself during this busy holiday season. Pack a lunch while shopping or running errands and enjoy the pleasant crunch and sweet/tart flavor pomegranate adds to the salad. All you need: 1 cup canned pineapple tidbits, drained, reserving juice 3 cups diced cooked chicken 1 cup diced celery 1 cup diced red apple 1 cup diced red grapes ½ cup pomegranate arils 1 cup chopped walnuts ½ cup Hy-Vee light mayonnaise ½ cup light Hy-Vee yogurt, fruit flavor of your choice ¼ cup pineapple juice All you do: 1. Toss the pineapple in a large bowl with the chicken, celery, apple, grapes, pomegranate seeds and walnuts. 2. In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, yogurt and reserved pineapple juice. 3. Toss dressing with chicken mixture in larger bowl. 4. Serve. Refrigerate unused portion promptly.