(ARA) – With the kids back in school and the holidays a heartbeat away, this is a busy time for mothers everywhere. While you’re busy taking care of the family and work, you might forget to take care of yourself. But this busy fall season, there’s an easy and delicious way to do something good for your health – eat a pear.
As the weather cools, pears become plentiful, offering a bounty of crisp flavor and health benefits, including the chance to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition cited pears as a food that may help reduce cardiovascular risk among post-menopausal women.
Pears contain flavonoids and anthocyanins that are believed to be linked to heart health. They are also an excellent source of fiber, another nutrient known to combat heart disease and promote digestive health. Pears are naturally cholesterol and sodium free, and contain just 1 gram of fat. A California Bartlett pear has just 100 calories and packs a powerful punch of vitamin C and potassium.
Here are some facts, ideas and recipes to help you incorporate pears into your diet:
* Pears are usually available through fall into early winter. The Bartlett pear is the major variety produced in California.
* Pear varieties grown in California include Forelle, Seckel, Sunsprite, Red Pear, Bosc, Comice and Bartlett. Each has its own distinct color, shape and flavor.
* For a quick, fun and nutritious breakfast or anytime treat, top a slice of whole grain wheat toast with almond butter and sliced pears.
* Make a spread of chopped pear, chopped walnuts, cinnamon and honey and use it as a spread on your bagel (instead of fatty cream cheese). Or, you can put it on toast, muffins or even crackers.
* Dip sliced pears in honey and then chopped nuts, sunflower seeds or even chocolate sprinkles for a healthy snack that only seems decadent.
* Instead of croutons which are high in fat, top your salad with sliced pears. Add extra pizzazz with crumbled bleu cheese and walnuts.
* For an interesting twist, top your holiday ham or pork roast with pear slices instead of pineapple. Place the slices on top of the meat just 15 minutes before it finishes cooking.
* Add chopped pears to a salsa of red bell peppers, jalapenos, cilantro and lemon juice. Serve it with pita chips, baked tortilla slices or with chicken breasts or quesadillas.
Try these two pear recipes for treats that seem decadent but are actually healthful and delicious:
Wine Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce
6 fresh California pears, peeled and sprinkled with the lemon juice as they are peeled (Bosc is the traditional variety for this recipe, but any variety may be used)
1/4 cup lemon juice
Peel of 1 lemon
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups of water
1 bottle of red wine
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pinch ground cloves
Fat free chocolate syrup
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, make a simple syrup by combining red wine, sugar, water, lemon juice and lemon peel. Bring to a boil and reduce by 1/4. Add cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves and stir. Stand pears in the pan with syrup, not touching each other. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Let pears cool in syrup, then gently lift with a slotted spoon, place on a platter or bowl and set red wine mixture aside.
To serve, pour chocolate into individual serving bowls and warm slightly in microwave. Place poached pear on top of chocolate and drizzle with poaching juices. Top with additional chocolate syrup or chocolate shavings. Note: Pears can be poached a couple days ahead of time and refrigerated and warmed in the microwave or eaten cold.
Fresh Herb Yogurt Dip with Sliced Pears
2 cups yogurt cheese (see below)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
6 fresh California pears, any variety, or a mix (sliced)
Yogurt cheese recipe:
Line a sieve with a coffee filter or double thickness of cheesecloth. Suspend the sieve over a deep bowl. Spoon plain yogurt into the filter, cover with plastic wrap, and allow the whey to drip out. When the yogurt has the consistency of soft, velvety spreadable cheese, after about six hours, scrape into a bowl.
Add herbs and seasonings to yogurt cheese. Stir. Cover and refrigerate for two hours or up to 24 hours. Serve with sliced pears and a dollop of honey.
For more ideas and recipes to incorporate pears into your diet, visit www.calpear.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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