How to choose: Grab them while you can; pomegranates’ peak season lasts only a few weeks. Picked ripe, the glossy red rind should be tight, smooth, and unbruised. Refrigerate after cutting.

Preparation tips: To avoid stains, submerge in water before slicing. Bend back sections to remove the brilliant, tart-sweet seeds. Toss whole seeds into rice pilaf with shelled edamame, green onions, and pine nuts; or mix seeds with orange sections and juice, fresh ginger, walnuts, and honey for a festive relish. Pure pomegranate juice, great for sauces, is now available year-round.

Health benefits: Considered a fruit of the gods, pomegranates exert enormous antioxidant power; research indicates the juice may even reduce arterial plaque formation.

Fall Fruit Salad
(Serves 6)

3 medium star fruit, sliced 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick
4 medium Mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
3 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Agave-Lime Dressing
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup light agave nectar (or honey)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Combine dressing ingredients in a tightly covered container and shake.

2. Mix star fruit, Mandarin oranges, and kiwi. Toss with dressing. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 96 calories
% fat calories: 5
Fat: 1g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Protein: 1g
Carbohydrate: 24g
Fiber: 3g
Sodium: 4mg

Recipe provided by James Rouse, ND, the creator of Optimum Wellness and The Fit Kitchen, seen weekly on NBC’s KUSA television news.