NOURISH BOWL WITH SAUTEED KALE, AVOCADO AND POMEGRANATE SEEDS

Ah the pomegranate, Fall’s most intriguing fruit.  I was so excited to see these are in season again!  One of the oldest known fruits, the pomegranate (punica granatum) is an original native of Persia. This nutrient dense, antioxidant rich fruit has been revered as a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life.

If you’re not familiar with the pomegranate, it is a red fruit with a tough outer layer; only the juice and the seeds inside are edible. Pomegranate juice is available year round, but you can purchase fresh pomegranates in most grocery stores from September through January.

My first introduction to the pomegranate fruit was in junior high school, in a Greek mythology class.  My teacher told us the story of Persephone, the goddess of the underworld and daughter of Zeus and Demeter, goddess of the harvest. There is something about Greek mythology that always fascinated me.  For those unfamiliar, Greek mythology is the body of myths and teachings that belong to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. The idea of various gods and goddesses representing all aspects of nature was just awesome to me.  Here is Persephone’s story:

Once there was a beautiful young girl called Persephone. Her mother was Demeter, the Goddess of the harvest. Demeter and her daughter lived in a world where it was always summer. Green things were always blooming and the sun shone warm and sweet.

One day while she was out with her friends, Persephone felt a trembling beneath her feat and heard a rumbling. The ground split open and Hades, God of the underworld, appeared driving a chariot. He snatched Persephone and took her back into the earth with him. The ground closed up again with a huge roar and all that was left of Persephone was a bunch of flowers on the ground.

Demeter searched everywhere, but she could not find her daughter. For days and days she looked for Persephone. Her grief was so great that the earth began to grow cold and all the green things died. There was no food, and a terrible hunger came to the people.

In the underworld, meanwhile, Persephone came to see that Hades wasn’t as scary as she first thought. He had been so lonely in the underworld, he told her of his longing to keep her there with him.

Persephone missed her mother and the bright world above ground. But her new status as Queen of the underworld and her love for Hades gave her reason to stay with him. She believed that she had important work to do deep under the ground.

Persephone knew that if she ate or drank anything in the underworld, she would have to stay there forever. Even though Hades begged her too have just a sip, or one bite of food, she didn’t.

Demeter had finally learned where Persephone was. She insisted that she be returned to her. Hades sadly hitched his horses to his chariot and prepared to take Persephone back. But before they left, he offered Persephone one last thing to eat – a ripe, blood red pomegranate. Looking him in the eye, Persephone took six seeds and ate them.

They went back above ground, up through a crack in the earth. Persephone threw herself into her mothers arms, joyous to be reunited. The earth again grew rich with flowers and the sun shone once more.

But, because Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds, it was decided that for six months of each year, she must return to the underworld with Hades, on Mabon, and winter would come to the world. When Persephone was in Hades, Demeter refused to let anything grow and winter began. This myth is a symbol of the budding and dying of nature. In spring she would once again return to her mother, allowing the earth to bloom.

I never forgot that class or Persephone’s story and was absolutely mesmerized by the pomegranate fruit from that moment on.  I remember going home so excited to show the seeds to my mother, protecting them like ruby gems 

In addition to their mythical reverence, there are many health benefits of this antioxidant-rich fruit.  Here are 10:

  1. Prevent heart disease: Pomegranates are loaded with polyphenols that have powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants prevent free radical damage of the walls of arteries, thus preventing heart disease. They also prevent oxidation of cholesterol, which causes plaque formation and development of coronary artery disease.
  2. Lower blood pressure: Pomegranates help lower blood pressure by preventing the activity of serum angiotensin-converting enzyme. Punicic acid is one of the main constituents of pomegranates that help lower cholesterol, triglycerides and reduce blood pressure. A study has shown that pomegranate components reduce risk factors for heart disease, in patients with diabetes and high LDL levels of the blood.
  3. May help prevent cancer: From prostate cancer to breast cancer,lung cancer and skin cancer, pomegranates can help prevent and treat several forms of cancer. This property of the delicious fruits is also attributed to the presence of polyphenol antioxidants in them. Studies have shown that pomegranate juice can inhibit the growth of tumour cells and induce natural death in them. Certain compounds in pomegranates have an anti-inflammatory ability that also contributes to its anti-cancer property.
  4. Help digestion: To keep your digestive system healthy, you need to include fibre-rich sources in your diet. However, our busy lifestyle and personal liking for junk food have deprived us of the goodness of fibre in fruits and vegetables. Eating a pomegranate every day is a good way to add fibre to your daily diet. One pomegranate can fulfill about 45% of your daily recommended intake of fibre, which is about 20 to 35g.
  5. Boost immunity: Being rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, pomegranates are extremely healthy for those suffering from immune-related disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and osteroarthrits. They are also rich in vitamin C, which boosts antibody production and development of immunity. Pomegranates can thus help you maintain a healthy immune system and stave of common illnesses and infections.
  6. Increase your libido: Since ancient times, pomegranates have been considered as a symbol of fertility. According to a research conducted by researchers from Queen Margaret University, a glass of pomegranate juice boosts testosterone levels in both men and women. This property makes natural aphrodisiac that is great for your sex life. Also, studies suggest that pomegranates contain certain compounds that are similar to sex steroids found in the human system, explaining why it improves sex stamina and desires.
  7. Keep you looking younger: Ever wondered why we grow old and our skin develops wrinkles and other signs of ageing? Well, it is because of free radical damage that affects your cells. Polyphenolic compounds in pomegranates are powerful antioxidants that can delay the process of aeging. Therefore, eating pomegranate keeps your skin glowing and radiant for a long time.
  8. Lowers stress levels: Apart from reducing the body’s internal oxidative stress, pomegranates also help lower psychological stress that you go through your personal and professional life. According to a study conducted by Queen Margaret University, people who drank pomegranate juice had lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that is increased under stressful situations.
  9. Keep Alzheimer’s at bay: Imagine being stuck on a road having forgotten where you live? If you wouldn’t want it to happen to you for real, pomegranates should form a part of your daily diet. Researchers suggest that pomegranates play in important role prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. A study conducted by Hartman and colleagues showed that pomegranate juice reduces the deposition and accumulation of amyloid in the hippocampus region of the brain by 50%, which could be considered for Alzheimer’s disease improvement. Here’s how pomegranate can help prevent Parkinson’s disease along with Alzheimer’s.
  10. Prevent plaque formation: If you mouth wash to keep improve your oral health, pomegranate juice can be a better option than alcohol containing mouth washes available at pharmacy stores. Certain compounds in pomegranate exhibit strong antiplaque effects. A study showed that hydroalcoholic extract of pomegranate effectively lowered dental plaque formation due to microorganisms build up by almost 84%.

While pomegranate seeds are beautiful and fun to eat, they are not easy to get to!  Cutting the fruit can be very tricky and messy if not done right.  Here is a video on how to properly cut and deseed a pomegranate from fellow vegan foodie Veganlovlie.

This Nourish Bowl recipe is a take on our Buddha Bowl from an earlier post.  I love these bowls because they are simple, easy to put together, hearty and chock full of nutritious benefits.  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

For the Hummus:

  • 1 15oz can chickpeas
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2-3 Tbsp water

For the Kale:

  • 2-3 kale leaves, chopped with stems removed
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper

For the Bowl:

  • ¼ cup black beans, cooked
  • ⅛ cup pomegranate seeds
  • ½ avocado, mashed

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add all hummus ingredients except water to high speed blender or food processor, blending until smooth. Slowly add water while motor is running to gradually thin out hummus to desired consistency. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, sauté the kale in the olive oil until slightly wilted. Toss with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
  3. In a medium bowl, arrange sautéed kale, black beans, mashed avocado and pomegranate seeds.
  4. Top with a few dollops of hummus and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).
EntreesAlicia Uhl