Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fall in Love with Pears

The many varieties of pears are native to coastal regions spanning from western Europe and northern Africa all the way to Asia. In the 1500’s Europeans began bringing pears to North America and today Washington state produces over half of the nations pears. California, Oregon, New York, and Pennsylvania are also well suited for growing pears and have significant commercial production.

Harvest of pears takes place in the summer and fall before they are fully ripe. Look for pears that are firm but not too hard. The skin should be smooth and free of bruises. The color may not be uniform and contain brown-specks which is normal.

Gently press the top of the pear near its stem, if it gives into pressure the pear is ripe and ready to be eaten. If the flesh feels extremely soft and squishy the pear is overripe. Overripe pears work best in cooking rather than eaten raw.

Pears are one of the highest fiber fruits, providing six grams in one medium pear. The skin of the pear contains about half the fiber as well as three to four times as many phytonutrients as the flesh, so it is best to eat it with the skin on.

Fiber is a well known substance helping to reduce risk of heart disease and type two diabetes. In addition to containing both soluble and insoluble fiber, pears also contain flavonoids which may improve insulin sensitivity. Red Anjou, Red Bartlett, Comice, Seckel, and Starkrimson varieties were found to have the highest amount to help reduce risk of type two diabetes. 

Fiber and phytonutrients in pears have also been associated with lower cancer risk, especially stomach, esophageal, and colorectal cancer.

One medium pear is also packed with 12% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, 10% of vitamin K, 6% of potassium, and also contains magnesium, calcium B-6, and folate.

The sweet, buttery taste of pears are a prefect addition to salads, used in a healthy recipe, or eaten on their own. For a healthy dessert try our Walnut and Honey Baked Pear Recipe below.

Walnut and Honey Baked Pears
Serves: 4 (1/2 pear each)
110 calories per serving
17g carbs
2 large ripe pears
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp honey
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the pears in half lengthwise and use a spoon or melon baller to scoop out the seeds.

Place pears, flesh side up, on a baking sheet. (Cut a sliver off the skin side of the pear to help it stay upright.) Sprinkle with cinnamon, top with walnuts, and drizzle 1/2 tsp honey over each pear.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until tender. Optional: Serve with 1 tbs vanilla Greek yogurt.

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