Forbidden fruit

Get to know the pomegranate, the ultimate January superfood.

In Greek mythology, pomegranate seeds prove to be an irresistible temptation — poor Persephone finds herself chained to the Underworld after succumbing to just a few seeds. In modern kitchens, they're a bewitching and nutritious ingredient, if you can just figure out how to extract the ruby-like nuggets from their globular casing. (Tip: Cut the fruit in half then dunk the entire thing in a bowl of water, extracting the seeds with your hands while they're submerged).

A welcome burst of color in January's bounty, pomegranates are a great source of potassium and fiber, and they're packed with antioxidants such as Vitamin C. One glass of pomegranate juice contains more antioxidants than a glass of red wine or a cup of green tea, according to a recent study from the University of California, Los Angeles — and, while I don't recommend a large glass of juice when you wake up, a splash of pomegranate nectar sweetens or "spices up" your first glass of water in the morning.

Plus, pomegranates are a heart-healthy food that can help prevent the hardening of arteries and have the amazing ability to help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and reduce high blood pressure. Add the seeds to your morning oatmeal, lunchtime salad or afternoon yogurt. Or try the recipe below:

Healthy Pomegranate Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1½ c. whole wheat flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. ground flaxseeds
1 tbsp. ground chia seeds
1 tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. sea salt
2 c. Nature's Path SmartBran cereal
1¼ c. skim milk
1 egg
¼ c. chunky applesauce
1 tsp. cinnamon
¾-1 c. pomegranate seeds

1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
2. Stir together flour, sugar, flaxseeds, chia sees, baking powder and salt.
3. In separate large bowl, combine SmartBran and milk; let stand for 2-3 minutes.
4. Add egg and applesauce to the SmartBran and milk and mix well.
5. Add flour mixture and stir until combined.
6. Stir in pomegranate seeds.
7. Spoon into 2½-inch muffin tins with liners.

Nationally recognized nutrition expert and author Keri Glassman (@KeriGlassman) is the founder and president ofNutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City.