The other night my husband, looking rather like a mad scientist, processed four pomegranates to harvest and freeze the succulent, ruby red arils (the juice-ﬁlled seed sacs). We are preparing for the impending disappearance of pomegranates from our local grocery store when pomegranate season ends in the next few weeks. Although there are countless ways to use pomegranate arils, in our house we use them almost exclusively to top our morning bowls of müsli with Greek yogurt. We’ll use our frozen stock of arils through the late winter and spring until berry season blesses us with new fresh fruit for our breakfast bowls.
The pomegranate butchery (the resulting red splatter on my walls and counters warrants use of the word “butchery”) of the other night would have been nearly unimaginable just a couple of years ago. Until last year my husband insisted he didn’t like yogurt and both of us perceived pomegranates as an exotic, high maintenance, messy fruit that we didn’t know what to do with. But we kept hearing from friends, from online sources, and even the media, that we should give pomegranates a try. So we did. And we haven’t looked back. And now we’re even stockpiling them!
Thanks to overwhelmingly positive research ﬁndings about the health beneﬁts of the Mediterranean Diet, it has received (and continues to receive) well-deserved attention in the media and among health and nutrition professionals. At the same time, food companies and restaurant chefs are making the ﬂavors of the Mediterranean more visible and accessible. A year ago I was unsure of pomegranates—a classic Mediterranean fruit—and now I am an avid aril fan. And while hummus and Greek yogurt now seem like mainstream foods to many of us, other lesser known Mediterranean foods and ﬂavors are ﬁnding their way into our consciousness and (luckily for us) our bellies. A coworker recently discovered za’atar-ﬂavored crackers at Costco. I found harissa and ras el hanout, two North-African spice mixtures, at my local Whole Foods tucked in alongside garlic powder and dried parsley. Fast-casual Mediterranean restaurants like Garbanzo, Perfect Pita, Roti Mediterranean Grill, and Zoë’s Kitchen, continue to crop up throughout the country. And according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2014 Culinary Forecast, chefs are embracing Mediterranean foods and Mediterranean Diet concepts such as use of fresh herbs, vinegars, dark greens, sustainable seafood, and ethnic and artisan cheeses; serving small plates; and oﬀering traditional foods like hummus, tabouli, kabobs, and ﬂatbreads.
So while the media presence and ready availability of the foods of the Mediterranean Diet can encourage us to try new things—the way my husband and I did with pomegranates—the media does not oﬀer us a chance to share our discoveries with other people interested in exploring new foods and creating healthy lifestyles. That’s where Oldways comes in. We have resources to help you learn about new foods and ingredients, recipes to help you add your new favorites to your regular menu rotation, and you can comment on the blog to share your adventures in cooking and eating, solicit advice, support others, and ask questions. So please join in the conversation the next time you ﬁnd yourself excited about a new ingredient, need help with a foreign food, excited about breaking news in the food world, or want to share your special method for removing pomegranate arils!
To remove pomegranate arils:
Score the pomegranate ﬂesh in quarters (from top to bottom) with a paring knife, being careful to cut only into the skin. Submerge the pomegranate in a large bowl of water. Break the fruit open under the water and turn the skin inside out to gently push out the arils. The arils will sink and the white membrane will ﬂoat. Remove the membrane and drain oﬀ the water. Use the arils immediately, store them in a container with a tight-ﬁtting lid for up to a week in the refrigerator, or freeze them (see below) for later use.
To freeze pomegranate arils:
Remove the arils from a pomegranate and spread them out in a single layer on a parchment or wax-paper-lined baking sheet. Pop them in the freezer for 2 hours, then transfer them to freezer bags. They’ll keep well for 9-12 months.
Breakfast of Champions:
A bowl of müsli makes a great weekday breakfast because it is fast and easy to put together and easily keeps you satisﬁed until lunch without needing a morning snack.
¼ cup of whole-grain müsli
Spoonful of dried cranberries or raisins
Spoonful of mini chocolate chips
Large dollop of Greek yogurt
Splash of milk
Stir the müsli, cranberries, and mini chocolate chips together. Stir in the yogurt. Top with pomegranate arils and a sliced banana and add a splash of milk. Enjoy.
Tell us, what’s your breakfast of champions?