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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Review: POM Wonderful

POM Bourbon Marinated Tri-Tip. YUM!
This review is long overdue. Shortly before having Lily (yeah, that would be two years overdue!), I received a nice email from a POM Wonderful representative asking if I would be willing to review the company's pomegranate juice in exchange for a free case. I said yes, adding that I would have to disclose that I received the juice for free when my review was published. The case of juice arrived the week I was to be induced. Suffice it to say, I've had other things on my mind for the last two years. But a promise is a promise, so I'm making good on my word here.

This was not the first time I had tried POM products. The idea of cold pomegranate juice that I didn't have to squeeze myself sounded like the greatest thing since the wheel when it first hit the marketplace, and I bought a few to try. I won't lie, it's the nectar of the gods.

Headquartered in Southern California, POM grows its Wonderful variety pomegranates in the San Joaquin Valley, where I have lived my entire life. POM is the largest grower of pomegranates in the United States and according to its website, supplies the majority of the nation's fresh pomegranates and ships to more than 55 countries. Oh, and they've been generous donors to UC Merced, which already puts them on my short list of favorite corporations.

Now that you know a little about the company, let's talk about what I did with all of that juice. A case of juice goes a long way in the home of a post-WLS woman. As a sugar-sensitive post-op and reactive hypoglycemic, juice is at the top of my long list of banned foods. However, the timing of my gift was perfect. Arriving days before Lily's birth, the juice was like a gift from God. And in the end, it literally saved my life.

Allow me to explain. If you've read Lily's birth story, which you could also call my labor story, you know it didn't all go according to plan. We walked into the situation knowing that a severe hypoglycemic episode had the same symptoms of what people call "transition" in labor. We knew that when (forgive the pun) push came to shove, I would need glucose support. And that's why I had my husband pack four bottles of that delectable POM Wonderful juice in our hospital bag.

At the hospital, I tried my best to be a good patient. They had juice they wanted me to have. Too bad that "juice" wasn't really. Looking at the label (labor hadn't really started yet so I had time and energy for label-reading) left me nonplussed. The box the nurses gleeful offered me was 10 percent juice and 90 percent high-fructose corn syrup and other additives. But I'm a good soldier. I politely accepted the fake juice from the nurse and as soon as she left, ask my husband to instead dilute some of the POM juice into my ice-water cup. One container of POM Wonderful juice lasted throughout my labor experience. It provided the sugar my body needed to get through the marathon of childbirth. Their were some complicating factors along the way, as my loyal readers know. But the complications would have been much more dire had the diluted POM juice not been available to me.

Diluted POM juice was my primary source of glucose support throughout my hospital stay and during my first days home as I was learning to juggle motherhood, breastfeeding and healing.

Even through all of that, I still had six bottles of juice left. No longer needing the juice to keep my blood sugar stable, I found myself wondering what to do. It had been given to me free of charge for personal use so I didn't feel it would be ethical to give it away. However, drinking it no longer was healthy for me.

Around that time, I signed up for a freezer meal exchange group. Created for busy moms, the group focused on each member making multiple batches of the same dinner to freeze. Then once a month, the group got together to exchange meal. You walk into the exchange with five of the same meal and walk out with five different meals. Functional and fun.

Our local grocery happened to have a great sale on beef roast that month and I visited the POM website to see if I could find a way to incorporate the juice into that month's exchange. What I found was an incredible recipe for POM Bourbon Marinated Tri-Tip.  I have since followed the recipe to the letter and must tell you it's even better than the picture above implies.

However, for my freezer meal exchange, some adjustments were needed. I decided to make this as a crock pot meal. So instead of using tri-tip (a California-specific cut of meat only beginning to gain popularity in other states), I used a ball-tip beef roast. I put the raw roast in a giant resealable freezer bag with the marinade contents and froze it. Well, I did this five times, since I was part of the exchange. I gave everyone instructions to thaw the contents in the bag, dump it into a crock pot and cook on low for 8-12 hours. I also included a small baggie of pomegranate arils I had purchased from the store and instructions on boiling down the cooking liquid to make a sauce for serving.

Every single person in my group raved about this dinner dish. The bourbon prevented the marinade from completely freezing and served to continuously tenderize the meat. The pomegranate juice sweetened the marinade enough that even after three months in the freezer, the bourbon flavor didn't overpower the meat. It was a wildly successful experiment and a dish I now make often in my own home because it gives me that wonderful pomegranate flavor without the perils that come from me consuming too much sugar.

The POM site, by the way, is filled with incredible recipes for every taste and time of day. It's worth checking out. But more importantly, if you haven't already, check out a bottle of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice. It's usually found in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store's produce department. It tastes good and is good for you. And if you love pomegranate arils, visit the site today for a coupon. A dollar off makes a big difference.


Erin Elser said...

Great post I will have to try it!

Tonya Kubo said...

Let me know what you think!