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Recipe corner: winter fruit salad and holiday quinoa salad

You can tell it’s getting close to the holidays when you start seeing pomegranates in the grocery store. The first time I tried one, I was surprised it wasn’t solid but full of hundreds of arils-ruby red colored juice sacs surrounding small, edible seeds.

The biggest challenge when preparing recipes is getting to those juicy arils. Begin by selecting pomegranates that are plump, round and feel heavy for their size. The rind doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty-it’s what’s inside that counts!

Cut off the crown, then place the whole fruit in a large bowl of water. Tear it into sections and begin to gently pry the arils from the pith. The arils will sink to the bottom, while the pith and skin float to the top, and are easily skimmed from the water. It’s messy, but it does the job.

Generally one pomegranate provides about one cup of arils. If you’re short on time, purchase prepackaged, loose, fresh arils refrigerated in the produce section.

Pomegranate adds color, flavor and nutrition to recipes. One half cup contains 72 calories, three grams of fiber, and 16 grams of carbohydrate, or one carbohydrate serving for a diabetes diet. They’re good sources of potassium, vitamins C and K and antioxidants to help promote health.

Fresh pomegranates are only available October through January, so don’t miss out. They’re picked ripe so you can eat them immediately. Store unpeeled for one month unrefrigerated, and refrigerated for at least two months. Enjoy them as a snack or in cereals, yogurt, salads and salsa. These winter fruit salad and holiday quinoa salad recipes will be hits for both holiday parties and everyday meals.

Winter fruit salad

Here’s one version of a seasonal fruit salad, but you can add your favorites to the mix. The flavorful dressing helps prevent the apples from turning brown. For a colorful presentation, place fruits in a large glass bowl, or in individual clear containers, then garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

Makes 6 (1-cup) servings



1 tablespoon honey, or pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons pineapple, orange or lemon juice


4 clementines, peeled, separated into sections

Arils from one pomegranate (about 1 cup)

3 kiwi, peeled, sliced then cut into sixths

2 medium, crisp red-skinned apples, cored and diced

Fresh mint sprigs (optional)

Prepare dressing first. In a small bowl, whisk together honey and pineapple juice. Set aside.

Combine clementine sections, pomegranate arils, kiwi sixths and diced apples in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over the salad, and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.

Approximate nutrients per 1 cup serving: 111 calories, 0 grams protein, 0 grams fat, 23 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 7 milligrams sodium, 35 milligrams calcium.

Recipe by Mary-Jo Sawyer, RD

Holiday quinoa salad

Quinoa is a seed that’s often used as a grain. It’s a great salad base as it absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients. If it’s not prewashed, rinse and drain to remove the bitter tasting coating. When cooked, quinoa will look soft and translucent. 

Makes 4 servings (about 1 cup each)


3/4 cup quinoa

1 ½ cups water

¾ teaspoon salt, divided

½ cup pomegranate arils

1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro

¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint

¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/3 cup finely chopped green onions

¼ cup orange juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

½ medium apple, cored and finely chopped

If not pre-rinsed, rinse quinoa in a fine strainer and drain well. Place in a medium saucepan, add water and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook to boiling over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook about 15 minutes more until water is absorbed. Remove from heat, and let sit covered for 10 minutes.

Fluff quinoa with a fork and pour into a large mixing bowl. Let quinoa sit until it is room temperature. Then, add pomegranate arils, cilantro, mint, parsley, and onions, and, using a fork, mix to combine.

To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk juices, oil, pepper, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Stir in diced apple. Pour dressing over salad and toss with a fork to distribute it evenly. Serve within 2 hours.

Nutrients per serving: 176 calories, 5 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 32 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 366 milligrams sodium.

Inspired by a recipe from the American Institute for Cancer Research


Recipes prepared by Mary-Jo Sawyer, R.D., registered dietitian in the Outpatient Nutrition Clinic at VCU Health.

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Posted on: November 30, 2017

Category: Prevention & control

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