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Passion for Pomegranate

words | Jennifer O’Bannon


Fall is the season for the power-house fruit pomegranate! Set for harvest in late September, this luscious red fruit has been around for centuries. Ancient Egyptians hailed the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity and ambition. In ancient Greek mythology, it was regarded as the "fruit of the dead" and thought to have sprung from the blood of Adonis

The pomegranate seeds are a stunning addition of color, delightfully delicious, and add healthy boost to any meal. The shiny red "jewels" are called arils and have a similar tartness to cherries. These culinary rubies get their flaming red appearance from polyphenols which are major antioxidants. The seeds are also rich in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Health benefit claims include positive effects in the areas of cancer prevention, protection from Alzheimer's and improved digestion.

Opening a pomegranate and freeing the arils from the rind may appear like hard work, but there are a few tricks. One of the most popular methods involves water. First, score the pomegranate with a knife, break it open, then work to separate the arils from the peel and whitish pulp membranes in a large bowl of water. The arils will sink and the inedible pulp floats.  A second effective way of quickly harvesting is to cut the pomegranate in half, score each half of the exterior rind four to six times, then smack the rind with a large spoon while holding the pomegranate half over a bowl. The seeds will spill from the pomegranate directly into the bowl, leaving only a few embedded in the rind to remove.

Once you have harvested these beauties, they are ready to enjoy! Try adding the pulpy seeds to a little goat cheese and dill as a topping on toast rounds or apple slices. You can also top oatmeal or yogurt to give it a tart punch, or try adding to guacamole for a delicious twist. While you can always use pomegranate juice, we recommend blending whole seeds in a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix) instead to create fresh salad dressings or glazes. Have fun experimenting with these red pom beauties!



Bella Wylie

Although Isabella Wylie is a busy student and competitive swimmer, her passion is food. We are thrilled to welcome her to the Luca Team as our new Food Editor!

Cooking has always come naturally to Isabella. Food has been the connection to spending time with her wonderful family and many great friends, but few years ago, cooking became serious. Knowing Isabella's passion for food, her father surprised her by entering Isabella into a cooking competition. She was selected to compete on Food Network's hit show, Chopped Junior. After three rounds of crazy basket ingredients and fierce competitors, she won! In early 2017, she was invited back to compete yet again in the first ever Chopped Junior Tournament of Champions.


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Tom Ka Gai Soup

recipe | Bella Wylie

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3 chicken breasts, cubed

2 cans of coconut milk

1 1/2 cartons of chicken broth

3 Tbsp oil

4 Tbsp of lemongrass paste

3 Tbsp of grated ginger

3 Tbsp of sweet garlic chili sauce

3 Tbsp of Sriracha

1 Tbsp of fish sauce

3 Tbsp of brown sugar

1 Package of sliced mushrooms

1/4 bunch of cilantro-torn

Juice of 1 lime

Sliced limes for garnish

Cilantro leaves for garnish

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1. Cube chicken breast and set to the side.

2. Start by heating the 3 Tbsp of oil in a large pot.

3. Add lemongrass paste, ginger, garlic chili sauce, and Sriracha to the heated oil. Stir until fragrant.

4. Add chicken breast to the pot and sear until outside is completely cooked.

5. Once the chicken is cooked on the outside, add the chicken broth. Also add the fish sauce, brown sugar, and 1/2 of the lime juice.



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 Photo by Brooke Marcella Photography (

Mix and Match Meal Prep

words | Gabriela Rodiles

Here are four tips for a productive Sunday meal prep that will set you up for success throughout your week of lunches. You’ll be happy catching a few more z’s, knowing that a healthy lunch is ready and prepped for you!

Make a big batch of quinoa that can serve as a base in bowls with protein and veggies. Instead of using water, use chicken broth or white wine to add rich flavor.Line a big baking pan with aluminum foil to make clean-up from roasting veggies super easy. Toss carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, broccoli or your other favorite veggies in olive oil. Season with generous amounts of salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence (a dried herb blend). Roast at 425 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. No need for a formal recipe!

In a pinch for time? Buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shred all the meat at once. Use some for salads, some for quinoa bowls or even toss into a simple soup!

At the grocery store pick up a bag of lettuce to make a mix and match salad with your chicken and vegetables, plus fruits and veggies for breakfast and snacks. When you get home from the store wash and cut everything up so it’s ready to eat during the week.

 Photo by Brooke Marcella Photography (

 Photo by Brooke Marcella Photography (
 Photo by Brooke Marcella Photography (

How to make an Acai Bowl

words | Gabriela Rodiles

These jewel-colored, topping-packed, fruit-loaded smoothie bowls are a refreshing and healthy way to start your morning this summer. Acai is a super-food from the Amazon with impressive health benefits. You don’t have to travel far to get it, though. You can easily find acai puree packets in the frozen fruit section of the grocery store! 

While people have been making acai bowls for years, I have been noticing even more creative mixing of produce, ingredients and toppings on social media lately. Customize your smoothie bowl to include your favorite fruits and yes, even veggies! Toss in some spinach or kale leaves for your daily dose of greens or throw in a handful of sliced zucchini or cauliflower–you won’t even taste it! For toppings, slice up any extra fruit, make a homemade granola or even drizzle some almond butter. These smoothie bowls will easily become a new favorite breakfast or snack for summer!

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Makes 1 large smoothie bowl...

Smoothie Ingredients:

1 peeled banana
1 cup fresh/frozen strawberries and blueberries
1/2 cup fresh/frozen mango chunks
1 packet frozen acai
1 cup almond milk


1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons granola
1/4 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon slivered almonds
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon agave


  1. Put all ingredients for the smoothie into the blender.
  2. Blend until smooth. Add more almond milk or a splash of water if needed. Smoothie should be thicker than drinkable.
  3. Pour smoothie into a bowl. Top with kiwi slices, granola, berries, almonds and chia seeds in a row across the bowl to create a pretty design. Drizzle with agave.
Gourmet Gab Acai Bowl

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Gourmet Gab

Butternut Squash and Kale Bowl

words | Gabriela Rodiles

Even though fall may make you think of pumpkin pie and apple cider donuts, it is one of the easiest seasons to eat healthy. Squash, root vegetables and gorgeous produce line the isles of grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

While these upcoming months are centered on celebration with sweet treats and indulgent snacks, healthy eating during the holiday season is all about balance. It would be a little extreme (and no fun!) to say no to pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and peppermint bark in December. On my blog, Gourmet Gab, I focus on moderation. While I make an effort to eat healthy meals most of the time, I believe it’s okay to savor desserts or treat, especially during the holidays.

Nourishing bowls like this Butternut Squash and Kale Bowl help me feel like I’m adding lots of goodness back into my body to balance sugary treats. This bowl is loaded with simple seasonal flavors and topped with a fried egg for protein and that gorgeous yellow yolk. Speaking of color, how about that sautéed kale and roasted butternut squash? Paired with the sliced pear, sweet and spicy walnuts, a little goat cheese, and a maple balsamic dressing – this healthy bowl tastes and feels like fall.

This “recipe” doesn’t really have to be structured. While the rice or quinoa is cooking, sauté kale on the stove and toss cubed butternut squash in the oven with some extra virgin olive oil, salt pepper and herbs. Slice up a ripe pear, chop the sweet and spicy pecans, crumble some goat cheese and shake up the vinaigrette. Fry up an egg, assemble the bowl while it’s cooking and top it off with the freshly cooked egg. Done deal!

I am a big advocate for cooking with whatever you have on hand, so feel free to swap out anything you prefer or happen to have in your kitchen. Also, this bowl would make an amazing packed lunch, minus the egg. Whip up extras of this for a fall-inspired school lunch and maybe even add some chicken in instead of the egg to help keep you feeling full! If you need more ideas for healthy recipes or holiday treats, visit my personal food blog, Gourmet Gab.

Gourmet Gab

Butternut Squash and Kale Bowl
(Serves 1, plus a little extra)


  • 1 bag of prechopped butternut squash
  • 3 cups of kale
  • 1/4 cup of brown rice
  • 1/4 of a pear, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons sweet and spicy pecans
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette (makes enough to keep for other salads!)
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.

3. Add butternut squash to the pan and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Toss to coat.

4. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the squash is soft and slightly golden brown.

5. Cook brown rice according to package directions.

6. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a skillet and saute kale over medium high heat until it is vivid green and wilted. It will condense to about half the size!

7. Slice pear into thin strips, chop pecans and crumble goat cheese.

8. To make vinaigrette, place all ingredients into a mason jar or container and shake to combine.

9. When squash only has about 3 minutes left, begin to fry egg. Warm a little olive oil over medium heat on a non-stick skillet. Crack egg into pan and cook until egg whites are firm and the yolk is as runny as you would like!

10. Assemble all ingredients into a bowl, top with a little dressing and enjoy.

You may already have some extra squash and kale with this recipe, but feel free to double the rest of the ingredients to make enough for meal prep!



Gabriela Rodiles 

Gabriela started Gourmet Gab as a freshman in college blending her passions of food and journalism. What started as a source for Phoenix restaurant reviews or college dorm cooking types, has grown into a source for healthy recipes, entertaining videos and tips for navigating the kitchen. Gabriela shares simple and healthy recipes on Gourmet Gab, always staying true to recipes and she guarantees they are both flavorful and good for you. Gourmet Gab has recently moved to New York to take her dream job working with the Food Network. Find out more of what she's up to on her website here:


 Photo by Brooke Marcella Photography (

 Photo by Brooke Marcella Photography (

Scott Keppel's Top 10 Healing Foods

Don't forget that foods can help you fight colds, the flu, and even cancer! Try these 10 healing foods recommended by fitness expert Scott Keppel to keep your mind and body strong!

Scott Keppel's Top 10 Healing Foods
Lemons: Scott Keppel's Top 10 Healing Foods


Blueberries are a delicious, versatile snack that can be mixed into a protein shake, put on top of oatmeal, cereal, granola and/or yogurt. The options are endless. Blueberries are known for containing a number of antioxidants. These antioxidants help fight free radicals and give your immune system a boost.


A great addition to warm water to start and end your day or just to your water.  We often use lemon juice on fish or as a dressing for salad.  There have been a number of studies worldwide that suggest lemons can help prevent cancer.

Avocados: Scott Keppel's Top 10 Healing Foods
Tomatoes: Scott Keppel's Top 10 Healing Foods


These fruits are a healthy fruit packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are a great addition to a salad, sandwich or just to snack on.


They are great as a stand alone snack or to add to salads, sandwiches or on top of eggs. Packed with carotenoids and lycopene; lycopene, which gives tomatoes their color, is suggested to help prevent a number of cancers as well.  

Kale: Scott Keppel's Top 10 Healing Foods
Salmon: Scott Keppel's Top 10 Healing Foods


We enjoying adding Kale to our protein smoothies and mixing it in with spinach or Romaine lettuce when having a salad.  This cruciferous veggie contain glucosinolates, a sulfur-chemical compound most frequently examined for their anticancer effects.


Typically we will have salmon at least once a week in order to get our fix of healthy fats; salmon is also packed with omega 3 fats. Omega 3 fats help with one’s immune systems. The stronger the immune system, the less likely you are to get sick.

Shrimp: Scott Keppel's Top 10 Healing Foods
Almonds: Scott Keppel's Top 10 Healing Foods


An  affordable low-fat protein source, that is extremely versatile and packed with Omega-3’s.


These nuts are one of our favorites; not only are they a healthy fat, they have a high concentration of phytochemicals.  Phytochemicals have been shown to help fight off cancer and the health benefits of the fat in almonds make these a great snack idea.

Cashews: Scott Keppel's Top 10 Healing Foods
Whole Grains: Scott Keppel's Top 10 Healing Foods


Another favorite nut at our house, these nuts contain flavanols and other cancer fighting proponents.  They are a fat, so be mindful when eating.

Whole Grains

Virtually all whole grains are always welcome at our house. But only whole grains, try to stay away from processed ones.  Whole grains have a fiber and have been shown to help prevent cancer.  I like gluten-free oatmeal, Kind granola and from time-to-time bread.