A taste for pears dates back to ancient times. The Greek poet, Homer referred to pears as a "gift of the gods." The Romans agreed, and used their agricultural ingenuity to develop more than fifty varieties of this fruit. Today, pears are grown throughout the world and are a popular food in many cultures.
Pears are candy-like sweet, but like all fruits are surprisingly very healthy. Pears are a good source of Vitamin C, potassium, and natural dietary fiber. One pear will give you 16% of your recommended daily allowance of fiber of which 41% is pectin. Pectin is a type of soluble fiber that helps to lower blood cholesterol levels and regulate the body's use of sugars.
A pear has 21 net grams of carbs. The carbohydrates in a pear are low on the glycemic index and have a low glycemic load. This basically means that the carbs in pears are slow to convert to sugar and enter the bloodstream. Therefore, pears are a good choice for getting healthy carbs.
Fresh pears are also a natural, quick source of energy due largely to high amounts of two monosacharides (fructose and glucose) and carbohydrates. Consider having a pear before your workout.
Age to introduce: about 6 months - Pears are a common first food for babies. (cooked and pureed)
Toddler Treat: Pear Nog
A festive drink for the Holiday season. One the whole family will love. An adult version may include a shot of brandy to warm the bones after a big day playing in the snow.
- 1 pear peeled, cored and cut in chunks
- 1 cup of egg nog (dairy or soy)
- 2 ice cubes cracked
- Dash of cinnamon
Place all ingredients in blender. Blend at high speed for 15 seconds. Makes 2-3 kid-size servings, or 1 1/2 cups.
Pears For The Family
At the market: Pears ripen off the tree, so most pears in markets are not quite ready for eating. To select a ripe pear, apply gentle pressure near the base of the stem. If it yields slightly, it's ripe.
Storage: Unripe - countertop in closed paper bag. Ripe - refrigerate.
Here are a few easy ideas to add pears in your meals:
- Country Breakfast Muffins: Saute fresh Bartlett pear slices with precooked crumbled sausage. Arrange on toasted English muffins or crumpets. Sprinkle with cheese, heat, and serve.
- Curried Chicken or Tuna Salad: In a bowl combine chopped pears, cooked chicken or a can of tunafish, 2 Tbsp of chopped celery and onion, a dash of curry powder and 2-3 Tbsp of mayonnaise. Serve the salad in a halved avocado. Garnish with lime wedges and chopped cilantro.
- Spinach Salad: In a large salad bowl combine thinly sliced bosc pears, red onion, and mushrooms with baby spinach. Toss with warm bacon or poppy seed dressing. Garnish with shredded or shaved parmesan cheese.
- Pears and Spring Mix: Toss mixed salad greens, sliced pears, red onion and cucumbers, walnuts and crumbled blue cheese with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
- Pear and Nut Pizza: Fill prebaked pizza crust with chopped fresh pears mixed with chopped nuts, brown sugar and nutmeg. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F until heated through, about 15 minutes.
- Poached pears with chocolate sauce: Place whole pears in a microwave-safe dish. For each pear to be poached, add ½ cup water, 1 tsp of lemon juice, small piece of cinnamon stick, and a couple whole cloves to the dish. Cover with plastic wrap, venting one corner. Microwave on high 5 to 7 minutes or until pears are just barely tender. Drain pears, discarding liquid. Set pears on a dessert dish standing up and drizzle with chocolate sauce, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts or grated chocolate.
- Pears and cheeses have been together for centuries. For your next dinner party, combine pear slices (sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent from turning brown) with an assortment of cheeses for simple elegant appetizer or dessert platter. Cheeses that pair well with pears include: Goat cheese, Brie, Cheddar, Parmesan Regianno, Fontina, Blue, and Stilton.