I hope this Saturday finds you well rested and relaxed.
I'll get to the potluck in a minute, but before I do:
An account of my first time breaking open a pomegranate!
I got my directions here, but thought I'd put together my own little visual "how to."
First off, let me tell you why you should even go to the trouble...
We've all heard and seen the ads for POM juice: It reverses aging with a single glass!
While the effects might not be quite so obvious or immediate, the fruit does contain some dazzling antioxidants (more on those in a second) that help deter LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) from rising AND, some studies show, prevent blood clotting.
Now down to business.
Here's what you'll need:
*Be careful, these things spray clothes-staining juice when you cut into them.
First, cut an end off- I prefer the part that sticks out.
Then make 5 (roughly) even incisions ALMOST reaching the core but keeping the fruit intact- watch out for that juice!
Now comes the fun part... submerge it in the bowl of cold water
And get to digging those valuable seeds out. The bowl of water helps to contain the mess as well as separate the good stuff (seeds) from the surrounding tissue (? for lack of a better word)
The white stuff will float while the seeds sink to the bottom.
Simply skim the inedible chunks off the top, leaving only the water and seeds.
Pour the contents of the bowl into a strainer and there you have it:
A healthy dose of delicious antioxidants. My favorite use is as a salad toppping... Yum
Since pomegranate season has only just begun, keep an eye out for them in the produce section. While this process might seem a bit tedious, it took me all of 5 minutes. Totally worth it.
To rewind to yesterday morning, I'll give you a little taste of school pre-8am:
Yep, pretty miserable.
But when I re-emerged 3 hours later, I was greeted by- GASP!- blue sky:
Well hello there, stranger.
While in the classroom, we covered the chapter on antioxidants.
Important things to know?
- Antioxidants MIGHT be one of the single most important things we as modern humans can consume (as part of a balanced diet, of course). In the polluted, chemically-soaked world we live in, we're bombarded daily with all sorts of carcinogens and free radical-causing pollutants- from the air we breathe to some of the foods we eat. Now before you up and move to Northern Canada where the air is clean and the land's untouched, there is a way to help your body fight off these nasty invaders... You guessed it: by eating hefty amounts of antioxidants on the regular.
- The following nutrients are the ones to look for:
2. Vitamin C- arguably THE best antioxidant of the bunch, this immune-boosting water soluble vitamin is usually associated with citrus. Don't be fooled- oranges aren't the only things containing this super precious delicacy. You can also find vast amounts of it in red berries, kiwi, broccoli, spinach, guava, grapefruit and bell peppers. Wow, I just got hungry.
3. Beta-carotene- ladies out there have surely heard of this vitamin used in their beauty products and face creams, but beta-carotene in food does great things for your immune system AND eye sight. Find it in fruits and vegetables that are red, orange, yellow and deep green in color (pumpkin and sweet potatoes are notable examples)
4. Vitamin A- while this fat soluble vitamin should be avoided by pregnant women, consuming it without a bun in the oven does wonders for your LDL cholesterol and bone health. Good sources include liver, eggs, dark leafy greens, peaches and mangos.
5. Selenium- this one is not QUITE as stunning as the other 4, but make sure you squeeze some into your diet with the help of pork, seafood, nuts, wheat and rice.
- If you smoke cigarettes, quit now. Ok, if you don't want to quit just yet, make sure you're practically overdosing on the above-mentioned products since the smoke you're inhaling puts you at a far greater risk for developing free radical-induced diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and the like.
After I soaked up all this valuable info, I made a quick stop at Whole Foods for some party ingredients and headed home, where I was greeted by a lovely box from amazon.com. (I love those days)
The goodies included:
The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises- can't wait to crack that one open- and my new French Press, for those chilly caffeine-filled mornings to come.
I did a little prep work in the kitchen, then headed to the gym where I glided on the elliptical for 30 minutes and followed it with 20 minutes of deep stretching.
On the way home, I stopped at my FAVORITE coffee place at the moment, LA Mill Coffee, where I got the iced version of the amazing drink from my first trip + a pound of their boldest beans.
I see beautiful mornings in my future ;)
Now's the part when I would normally go on to outline my crazy antics in the kitchen pre-potluck dinner (because they were definitely crazy), but my camera- along with the memory card- has gone MISSING! What a sad day... I had so many things to show you but it looks like they've disappeared into the ether. At least for now.
I can TELL you that a ton of fun was had. Though the original plan was to attempt 3 dishes, I quickly realized that I lacked both the time and counter space to execute a trio, so I settled on my two favorites: vegan chocolate chip cookies and a slightly healthified version of macaroni and cheese.
The cookies were delicious, though I'll probably look for a different recipe next time as they turned out a little greasy for my taste (it called for a lot of canola and earth balance- essentially veggie oil in solid form).
The mac and cheese was a recipe I got from Good Eats- you know, the show on Food Network with Alton Brown? I subbed earth balance for real butter, almond milk for cow's milk and used whole wheat pasta and bread crumbs instead of white. I didn't skimp on the real chedda' though.
It turned out ah'ight, as did all the other dishes I could eat (fried chicken was a popular addition to the table ;).
We downed some wine, caught up with great friends and called it a night around 12:30am.
This morning there was a lot of cleaning to be done. But first, Alex and I headed to King's Road Cafe for some cleaning fuel.
Some iPhone pics for ya:
Second best coffee in town as far as I'm concerned. They brew each cup to order!
A crab cake salad. It was good to get some greens in and I LOVE crab cakes but the dressing could have used a little more acidity if you ask me.
Speaking of acidity, I was listening to a Fresh Air podcast in which Terry Gross interviews the author of a soon to be released book called Keys to Good Cooking.
The interview was super fascinating. While the author spoke a good bit about the preparation of meat, he also touched on little known kitchen secrets, the best time to add seasoning to a dish and the effect heat has on the foods we eat. I'm going to go ahead and say this is a must-have for my reading stack.
Alright, I'm off to eat a little somethin' somethin' then Alex and I are seeing Interpol at the Greek Theatre. It'll be my first show there- I hear it's gorgeous!
I'll be back tomorrow with some lovely iPhone pics for ya ;)
Enjoy your Saturday!