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Pomegranates — ’tis the season!

Question: What do beets, tomatoes, apples and pomegranates have in common?

Answer: They’re fruits and veggies that come with a natural red skin, each loaded with its own fabulously healthy nutrition profile—and this: for anyone with allergies to red dye 40 who struggle to find safe red foods, these four reds are their safe harbor.

The pomegranate was pretty much of an unknown to me till a couple years ago. When I learned that these gorgeous orbs were not the kind of fruit you bit into, that you had to dig for the goodies, I had to pass. Ho hum, no thanks, I’ll buy me one-a them juicy red apples, instead. But our household’s designated cook/baker and my daughter Heather REALLY wanted to give it a go. She was hooked with that first pomegranate, loved the sweet, juicy arils (or seeds). So now for these last four months of the year—just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas!—we enjoy quite a few.

Red and ripe organic pomegranate

Just like so many other healthy goodies—like olives, yogurt, feta, rosemary, mint, spices—pomegranates hail from the Middle East. The bushes thrive in that climate, grow sometimes as tall as 50 feet (no kidding!), and hang around for a hundred years, or so. We get our supply from a climate like the Mid-East’s, namely California. But imagine living in either of those climes and having a nice tall bush outside your back door where you can pluck some of the healthy globes, and have them whenever!

So if you don’t bite into the pomegranate, how DO you gain entry? There are a couple ways but the method Heather likes best is to cut them into quarters (she stopped after making the first cut so I could snap this shot of the beautiful innerds), and gently pry the arils loose. (She cautions that the juice can stain, clothes, countertop.) Use a sheet of waxed paper on your work space, and, when you’ve collected the arils, wrap up the waste and toss it away.

The arils (seeds) are the edibles in pomegranates. Juicy, healthy, and oh-so-versatile — eat ’em straight, or cook or bake with these little beauties.

Besides being a go-to for those with an intolerance to red dye 40, pomegranates are loaded with Vitamin C and folate, and minerals like copper, manganese and potassium, and omega fatty acids.

But, quick! how do you use these potently tasty, healthy seeds?

My quick answer is

  • Eat ‘em straight out of your hand
  • Make pasta salad
  • Add ‘em to smoothies
  • Add ‘em to a glass of milk or milk substitute (almond, hemp, coconut, rice)
  • Drop a spoonful into white wine.
  • Sprinkle arils onto a Romaine lettuce or spinach salad.

Or make our fruit salad:

  • Pomegranate arils, as many as you like
  • Green and/or red grapes
  • Grapefruit sections
  • Orange sections (Valencia or navel or good, or Satsuma or blood oranges)
  • Kiwi slices
  • Banana slices
  • One-half stalk of celery, cut in small pieces
  • Shredded coconut, optional
  • Pecan or walnut halves

Mix well. As to dressing the salad, the juices from the fruits may be all you need. If that doesn’t cut it, consider a raspberry vinaigrette–or renegade thought here, add a dollop of guacamole to each serving.

For any leftover arils, store them in a glass lidded container that you store in your fridge for a week or a little beyond.  You can freeze the arils, too, but they don’t unfreeze well.  They’re still good in baked or cooked foods.

Learn more about the Red Dye Diet here.