December, in addition to being one of the most festive times of the year, is also pomegranate season. These pinkish red orbs are known for their delicious sweet-tart taste and plentiful juice. Beneath that leathery red skin are hundreds of sparkling seeds known as arils that are an excellent source of fiber and deliver free-radical fighting antioxidants like vitamin C. (For more on why pomegranate seeds are so good for you, read this.) They are perfect for healthy snacking and cooking, but they sure are tricky to get out. Luckily, we’ve got this handy video that shows you the absolute easiest way to de-seed the fruit—no special equipment required. If that still seems like a bit too much muss and fuss, you can find containers of pomegranate arils at many grocery stores.
Pomegranate seeds add a burst of flavor, color, and nutrition to any meal. Try mixing them into leftover turkey or chicken salad; sprinkling them over oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon; or pairing them with squares of dark chocolate for a sweet-tart treat. I also love them as a topping on roasted vegetables, as in the asparagus recipe below.
Asparagus with Fresh Pomegranate Arils
Prep time: 30 minutes
16 asparagus spears, jumbo
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
½ cup chicken stock (or vegetable for a vegetarian version)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup fresh pomegranate arils
chives, minced for garnish
1) Preheat a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Coat the pan with olive oil.
2) Add asparagus, and sear on all sides until golden brown.
3) Add shallots, and sauté for 1 minute.
4) Add chicken stock and butter.
5) Simmer stock until reduced by three-quarters, then remove from heat.
7) To serve: plate asparagus, garnish with pomegranate arils, and add chives. Serve with your favorite whole grain.
Rebecca Scritchfield is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and founder of Capitol Nutrition Group in Washington, DC.