9 mouthwatering ways to eat pomegranate seeds

Article posted in: Recipes

People have been eating pomegranates for thousands of years, but they’ve never been more popular—at least in the U.S. The sweet and tangy fruit that’s originally from the Middle East is revered by healthy eaters because it’s relatively low in calories and is loaded with vitamins. Plus, it has a couple of unique nutrients all its own.

The tasty parts of pomegranates are the arils, or juice-filled sacs that surround the soft, edible seeds. To eat the fruit, break it open (it helps to score the tough skin first with knife) and flex the skin back to eject the arils into a bowl. You can also cut the fruit in half and spoon out the seeds. Or try this simple kitchen hack for de-seeding a pomegranate. Short on time? You can now buy the arils fresh and frozen.

However you enjoy pomegranate, you get healthy amounts of vitamin C, folate and potassium, along with soluble and insoluble fiber, but no cholesterol or saturated fats. The fruit contains punicalagins, powerful antioxidants that possibly reduce chronic inflammation, a factor in the onset of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. In a study of people living with diabetes who drank pomegranate juice daily for 12 weeks, the blood markers of diabetes declined by more than 30 percent, according to a report published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. Sure, juice is different than the real thing, but the facts remain: Pomegranates dish out a whole lot of nutrition.

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Get all their benefits and enjoy the sweet-tart flavor of the fruit by adding the arils to your meals and snacks. Here are nine delicious ideas to get you started:

1.Overnight breakfast.
Mix a half cup of old-fashioned oats with one cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk in a large bowl, cover and chill overnight. In the morning, mix in a half cup plain fat-free yogurt, top with a quarter cup of pomegranate arils and two tablespoons of almonds. Half of this must-have morning meal counts as one SmartCarb and one PowerFuel on Nutrisystem.

2. Silky smoothie.
Whip up a quick and refreshing breakfast with one cup nonfat milk (or soy milk), a quarter cup of strawberries, a quarter cup of frozen banana slices and a quarter cup of arils for a delicious fruit smoothie that counts as one SmartCarb and one PowerFuel on the Nutrisystem program. If your smoothie feels low on liquids, add a splash of water or a cup of unsweetened almond milk, which counts as one Extra on the program.

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3. Sweeter salads.
Scatter a handful of sweet and juicy arils on top of salads made with strong-flavored greens like spinach or mesclun. Or make a quick dressing with a half-cup of pomegranate juice, a quarter cup of balsamic vinegar, two tablespoons of honey, one tablespoon of soy sauce, one tablespoon grated ginger, a quarter cup of vegetable oil and a half-teaspoon of salt. One tablespoon of this delicious dressing counts as one Extra.

4. Delish relish.
Create a delicious topping for grilled lamb or seafood by combining a half cup of pomegranate seeds, 12 small diced olives, a half cup of crumbled feta cheese, two teaspoons of olive oil and chopped parsley. This recipe makes two servings; each counts as half a SmartCarb, one PowerFuel and two Extras on Nutrisystem.

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5. Cool couscous.
For a light but hearty side dish, add a quarter-cup of arils to a quarter cup of cooked couscous, along with a quarter cup each of chopped red onion and parsley, a half cup of chopped red and yellow sweet peppers, one teaspoon of sunflower seeds. Then mix in a teaspoon of olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

6. Tangy seltzer.
Turn seltzer or sparkling water into a brilliant and healthy mocktail by putting one tablespoon of arils in the bottom of an eight-ounce glass. Fill with a half cup of pomegranate juice and top with plain seltzer, then watch the arils bounce around in the carbonation before you sip. On Nutrisystem? Count this tangy treat as one SmartCarb.

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7. Tater topping.
After baking one pound of sweet potatoes to fork tender, scoop their insides into a bowl then mash them with a fork. Mix in a quarter cup of light coconut milk, two tablespoons of toasted (unsweetened) coconut flakes and a quarter-cup of pomegranate seeds. Season with salt and pepper and a squirt of lime juice. Divide into four portions. Each counts as one SmartCarb and one Extra on Nutrisystem.

8. Pom on a log.
Kids love the classic snack of celery filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins. Substitute pomegranate seeds for the raisins and you get a taste of PB&J without the bread. Top one celery stalk with one tablespoon of peanut butter and two tablespoons of pomegranate seeds for a tasty snack that counts as one PowerFuel, half a Vegetable and one Extra on the Nutrisystem program.

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9. Fruity dessert.
Cut a few pears in half, carving out the hard, seedy cores. Brush halves lightly with lemon juice and bake until soft, about 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. Fill the center of each half with two tablespoons of soft cheese (like chevre or mascarpone), and top with two tablespoons of pomegranate arils. Serve warm. Enjoy two halves for a guilt-free sweet treat that counts as one SmartCarb, one PowerFuel and one Extra on the Nutrisystem program.