I’ll never forget my first pomegranate. I was walking around in Old City Jerusalem and wearing my favorite pair of jeans and a light colored shirt. A man came over and pushed a cut pomegranate on my friend and I. What was I supposed to do with this thing? I had no idea so I just started pressing and squeezing. Immediately after I started squeezing those precious seeds into my mouth, my thirst was quenched and I felt an energy boost. My shirt and pants were not so happy though.
Lesson learned: take my time, use the water method to extract the seeds and sit down to eat it.
Since that time more than 10 years ago, I have moved to California where one can easily buy or grow their own pomegranates. So what was the first tree I planted? Yup, it was a pomegranate shrub that was just 1 foot tall. It now blesses me with a lot of pomegranates to eat and juice with my kids. I also buy pomegranate juice from the farmers market to supplement when I don’t have any available in my garden.
So what are the benefits of pomegranates?
They are sweet, astringent, sour and work wonders for cooling off any aggravated pitta in the body without aggravating kapha and vata. Pomegranates soothe inflammation in the digestive tract, alleviate diarrhea and loose motions, act as an antiemetic so can be helpful in morning sickness, stop bleeding, help in anemia, reduce fevers, act as a cardiotonic, a brain tonic and as an aphrodisiac. The astringent rind while not very tasty is a strong medicine for stopping dysentery, traveler’s diarrhea and getting rid of parasites. Due to such things as the high quantity of vitamin c and tannins, the fruit is also known for its ability to slow the aging process, prevent heart disease and even prevent cancer. The pomegranate is a great overall tonic that helps when one is feeling weak.
Besides buying them whole to eat the seeds, you can get great benefits from the juice or the dried powder sold in stores. The juice is best taken at room temperature as opposed to cold. The powder known in Indian stores as anardana can be used in sauces, spice mixes or chutneys in the fall season to reduce pitta and add a complex sweet and sour taste that can't be found elsewhere.
Autumn Swiss Chard & Cauliflower
1 medium fennel bulb (chopped)
1 medium sweet onion (chopped)
1 bunch swiss chard (chopped)
½ head of cauliflower (broken into small florets)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon pomegranate powder
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
salt (to taste)
1 tablespoon ghee