Greetings and salutations from the wild wild West. My absence from blogging likely has been much more palpable to me than any of you lovely folks, but I hope my absence hasn't turned you off from this site. If it has, my sincere apologies. A variety of events and circumstances have kept me away, including a broken camera, but more importantly a serious family illness that required I head back East for a few months. My time there was precious and I am happy to say, the maker of the best chicken pot pie in the great state of New York, otherwise known as my mom, has recovered and is back to her feisty self. I'm now back in southern California, and settling back into the joyous drudgery of daily life. I've missed this part of my world and look forward to getting back into the swing of things. I hope that you will enjoy it too.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive some delicious POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice from the fantastic folks at POM a few days ago. I love POM Wonderful and knew that it was a serious source of antioxidants, but had no idea the depth and breadth of research POM has done to support this product. These folks picked a great person to send this to, because deep down in my soul stirs a big old nerd who adores all things science. I know this is a cooking and food blog, so you are free to skip the medical mumbo jumbo if it doesn't appeal to you. Go ahead, I'm not mad at ya. For those of you fellow nerds that stuck around, get this. POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice has been the subject of over 35 peer reviewed research articles in the Journal of Nutrition, American Journal of Cardiology, and Clinical Cancer Research among others. It's been shown to improve blood flow to the heart in patients with coronary heart disease, decrease arterial plaque (the gunk that narrows your arteries), decrease the risk of recurrence of prostate cancer, as well as improve erectile function. See what all the people who didn't want to read this missed out on? Who knows when that will be your go to talking point at your next social event! You can thank me later.
And I digress... thanks for those of you who slogged through my nerdtastic wandering diatribe. I just love that stuff. When I received the POM juice, I got stuck on an idea of making popcorn balls. Since the starring element is so darn good for you, I didn't want to muck it up with the traditional unhealthy ingredients like butter and sugar or corn syrup. What unfolded and developed was a healthy, delightfully satisfying treat.
Popcorn POM Bars
16 oz POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
5 oz ricemellow creme (or traditional marshmallow fluff)
2 oz dried cherries
4 oz chocolate chips
Pour POM juice in small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 40-50 minutes until reduced to a thick syrup consistency. Let cool. Pop popcorn, and mix with berries. When reduced POM is cooled, mix in large bowl with popcorn and cherries. Mix with spoon to evenly coat all popcorn. Mix in chocolate chips and firmly press into a greased 9 x 9 pan. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours and cut into 9 squares.
Fast, simple and ridiculously healthy. If you wanted to double down on the antioxidant punch that these pack, switch to dark chocolate chips. Throw in a handful of almonds of walnuts for some healthy fats and protein. Don't like dried cherries? Try raisins, cranberries, or whatever other tasty dried fruity bits your heart desires. This is truly my ideal type of food creation; simple, successful, and with endless interchangeable ingredients. It is a sticky project, which might be fun for you brave parents to try with your kids. I'd never used ricemellow creme before, and was a bit taken aback by the airy, almost crystalline appearance of it. Turns out if you stir it all up, it looks just like traditional fluff, and tastes remarkably similar. Simple joys right? Good to have you back, and I promise I won't be leaving you high and dry, or hungry and annoyed, again any time soon.