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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Pomegranates: Delicious, Beautiful and Nutritious

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) derives from Latin pomum (“apple”) and granatus (“seeded”) has appeared in myths, legends, art and history for centuries. Associated with health and rebirth, some scholars even place the pomegranate in the Garden of Eden, instead of an apple. Known as one of the earliest cultivated fruits, it may date back to around 1000 B.C., where decayed remains of pomegranates were found, and are still a fruit of fascination today. Introduced into Latin America, California and Arizona by Spanish settlers and Padres in 1769, pomegranate is now cultivated in this region for juice production. In the conventional food industry, pomegranate is included in a novel category of exotic fruits called “superfruits.” According to the OED, the word “grenade” originated about 1532 from the French name for the pomegranate, “la grenade.” La grenade also gives us the word grenadine, the name of a kind of fruit syrup, originally made from pomegranates, which is widely used as a cordial and in cocktails.
Method: Grown for ornamentation and for the delicious edible fruit it produces, the Wonderful or Red Wonderful is the most common variety, plus smaller plantings of Early Foothill. The fruit is about the size of an apple, and has a leathery, deep red to purplish red rind. When selecting a pomegranate, consider that the heavier the fruit is, the juicier it will be. When you split the hard fruit open, a mass of red seeds in a spongy white membrane is revealed. Only the seeds, with their sweet-tart flavor and juice squirting texture, are edible.
How to store pomegranates? They can be held at room temperature for reasonable periods of time, out of direct sun. Refrigerate the whole fruit or place the seeds in plastic bags in 32 – 41 degrees Farenheit or the seeds can be frozen separately. Fresh pomegranates are available in September through January. Look for them here at your favorite farmers market.
For your health: Pomegranates are not only delicious and beautiful, they’re also one of the most nutritious fruits you can eat, glistening red arils that are heavy with juice. Inside each aril is a tiny edible seed that provides a valuable source of fiber, high in vitamin C and potassium, and low in calories. Pomegranate juice is high in three different types of polyphenols, a potent form of antioxidants. The three types – tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid – are present in many fruits, but pomegranate juice contains particularly high amounts of all three. As antioxidants, they are credited with helping in the prevention of cancer and heart disease.
eco-ista tip: A ripe, ready-to-eat pomegranate is a luscious jewel of a fruit, capable of transforming any meal into an extraordinary experience. And although this delicious fruit may seem exotic, it’s wonderfully easy to enjoy. Eat these little beauties as a snack, toss them into savory or sweet dishes, or use them as a brightly colored garnish. One of my favorites is to add them into guacamole, when in season.
The traditional method for removing the seeds and releasing the juice is to cut the crown end off the pomegranate, removing with it some of the white pith. Lightly score the skin in quarters, from the stem to the crown end. Firmly yet gently break the sections apart, following the score lines. Bend back the skin and gently scoop the seed clusters into a bowl; remove any pith. And eat like you’ve struck gold.

Pomegranate Guacamole
2 large ripe Avocados
1/2 large red Onion, grated
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 fresh chilies, Jalapeno or Serrano chilies, seeded
2 tablespoons fresh Cilantro leaves
1 freshly squeezed Lime
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 tablespoon Pomegranate Juice
3 tablespoons Pomegranate Seeds
Finely chop the onion, garlic, chilies, and coriander leaves. Place in bowl and add lime juice and salt, set aside. Peel and pit the avocados and place in a bowl. Mash with fork slowly adding the tablespoon of pomegranate juice. Add onion and garlic mixture and fold together to make a course pulp. Gently fold in pomegranate seeds. Serve with warm tortillas, tostadas, or corn chips.
Serves 6.
Chiles En Nogada with Pomegranate
Prep: 35 min, Cook: 40 min, plus cooling time.
Serves 6 people.
1 yellow Onion, finely chopped
3 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups Olive Oil
1 cup organic Chicken Broth
1/2 cup organic Half n’ Half
1-1/4 pounds boneless skinless Chicken Tenders, lightly pounded or think (Turkey leftovers)
1/2 teaspoon canned Chipotle Chilies in adobado, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh Cilantro, chopped
12 fresh Corn Tortillas
3-1/2 tablespoons unsalted organic Butter
3-1/2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry Flour
2-1/2 cups 1% organic Milk
1 thick slice yellow Onion,
1 Clove
1 Bay Leaf
6 ounces Feta Cheese, crumbled or Queso Cotija
1 medium Pomegranate seeded
1/4 cups green Onions, thinly sliced
Chicken Filling
Sauté the onion in one tablespoon olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic; cooking for 30 seconds. Stir in chicken broth, then half n’ half. Add chicken; simmer, covered, turning occasionally until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken; cool. Stir in chipotle. Reduce liquid in pan until it thickens and heavily coats the back of a spoon; reserve. When chicken is cool, shred into bite-size strips; stir into pan liquid. (Chicken filling may be made up to 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. Return to room temperature before proceeding.) Just before assembling the dish, stir cilantro into chicken filling.
Sauce
Melt butter in a small, heavy saucepan. Stir in flour; cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk. Add onion, clove, and bay leaf. Simmer over very low heat until sauce thickens and leaves a medium coating on the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Strain. You should have about 1-1/2 cups sauce. If sauce gets too thick, thin it with a few tablespoons milk. (You can make the sauce ahead up to 2 days. Pour into a container while it’s hot, and then melt a pat of butter to coat the top, to prevent skin from forming. Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. Return to room temperature before proceeding.)
Tortillas
To prepare the tortillas, place in a slightly damp cotton dish cloth and wrap tightly and place in the microwave for 60 seconds. Lightly salt one side of each tortilla, with sea salt.
Assemble Dish
To assemble, oil a shallow baking pan just large enough to hold two enchiladas per serving. Put a generous 1/4 cup reserved chicken filling down the center of each tortilla; roll fairly tightly. Put seam-side down in baking pan; continue with the remaining tortillas. (You may assemble the dish to this point early in the day of serving. Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. Return to room temperature before proceeding.)
About 20 minutes before serving, gently warm reserved sauce; pour over enchiladas, taking care to coat each. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400°F until enchiladas have heated through and the top just begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Let rest, covered with a towel, 5 minutes. Scatter pomegranate seeds and sliced onion over top.

Terri Nacke is owner of La Bella Terre botany for the body: 4232 North Brown Avenue Studio 4B Scottsdale, Arizonaa 85251 For more information, contact her at www.LaBellaTerre.com or 480-990-1805.

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