Image: Robb Walsh

We've been eating a lot of pomegranates at my house lately. The taste for the weird, sweet and sour, juicy seeds got started with the pomegranate juice craze of a few years ago. The fruit was credited with all sorts of healthy attributes—pomegranates are still high on the list of Super Foods. 

According to "Pomegranates are loaded with nutrition and are particularly abundant in vitamin C, potassium, and pantothenic acid (B5). Pomegranate is rich in anti-oxidant phytonutrient polyphenols such as tannins & flavonoids. The most abundant polyphenols in pomegranates are ellagitannins, punicalagins, catechins, gallocatechins, and anthocyanins. These nutrients have incredible free-radical scavenging effects that are just now being studied by scientists." (Okay, I never heard of most of this stuff, but I'm sure it's good for you.)

I just rip the skin off and dig in, but if you want to peel a pomegranate "correctly," heed the stern advice in this video: 

But then the nutritionists pulled the rug out from under us—they started warning that fruit juice is dangerous because it is too high in sugar. Eating the whole fruit with all of the fiber and pulp it contains is vastly superior for your health we were told, and the medical community agreed. So we stopped drinking pomegranate juice and started eating the whole fruit. It's kind of an odd experience—if you put a lot of pomegranate seeds in your mouth (the juicy red seeds are the part of the fruit you eat) and chew them up, you end up with a mouth full of grit. My kids are always trying to spit that stuff out. What a strange parenting commandment: Swallow the fiber, it's good for you! 

Courtesy Hugo's Restaurant

I'm sure kids have been trying to spit out the pomegranate grit for centuries. Pomegranates were popular in ancient Greece and Persia. They are also part of biblical mythology—they were one of the fruits that scouts carried back to Moses to show the abundance and fertility of Israel.

My first introduction to pomegranates was in a Mexican restaurant. Pomegranates are a very necessary part of the famous dish called chiles en nogada. This is one of the most delightful dishes in Mexico's vast menu. It's a plate of stuffed chiles in creamy walnut sauce. Chiles en nogada is a must for Mexican Independence Day (September 16) celebrations. The combination of the green chiles, white walnut sauce and red pomegranate seeds evokes the colors of the Mexican flag. 

The seasonal dish is available right now at Hugo's—but hurry in, it won't be on the menu much longer.


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