Pear and Sausage Stuffing

Whether you are a “stuffing” or a “dressing” kind of person, pears add a magical twist when served alongside your holiday bird. Because they are sautéed and then baked, the pears are meant to be meltingly soft in this side dish, and any variety will do. Sausage adds a piquant kick, and don’t skimp on those fresh herbs. Consider this recipe another delicious vehicle for getting pears on your Thanksgiving table.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing and brushing

1 (20-ounce) loaf white bread, crusts trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

1 sweet yellow onion, chopped

3 celery ribs, chopped

12 ounces mild Italian pork sausage (casings removed if the sausage is in links)

2 ripe USA Pears, stemmed, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade turkey stock

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 3-quart casserole dish with butter.

Spread the bread cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast them in the oven until lightly browned, 12 to 20 minutes (depending on the moisture content of the bread). Combine the toasted bread cubes, parsley, and sage in a large bowl; set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft and translucent and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the pears and continue cooking until they are just soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the stock, add the pepper, and bring it to a simmer. Pour the contents of the pan over the bread cubes and toss until evenly moistened. Taste and add salt as needed.

Loosely pack the dressing into the prepared dish and cook, uncovered, until the top forms a deep crust, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Photography: George Barberis (@georgebarberis)
Recipe and Styling: Andrea Slonecker (@andreaslonecker)

Want more pear-a-licious Thanksgiving recipes? Click HERE!

3 Sweet Reasons to Choose Pears if You Have Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Month and it’s also a great time to find perfectly ripe pears, which comes in handy since pears have a lot of the attributes we recommend in a diet to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes. Pears are a low glycemic index (and low glycemic load) food – a medium-sized pear ranks 38 on the glycemic index – which means they have a mild effect on blood sugar levels. While there isn’t a cure for diabetes (yet!), we do know that food is a very powerful tool that can be used to reduce symptoms and improve overall quality of life. As registered dietitians, we see the power of food every day, and the research supports just how much of an effect food can have on reducing the impact of diabetes.

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, or want to make some preventative dietary changes, we think including pears in your diet is a great idea. Here’s why:

Fiber. Soluble fiber, the type that binds with water to form a gel-like substance in your digestive tract, slows the rate that your body pulls glucose from food in your stomach. In other words, soluble fiber can help slow down the rate at which your blood sugar rises. A medium pear contains 6 grams of fiber (24% of your daily needs), and some of that 6 grams is in the form of soluble fiber! From a preventative perspective, eating a diet rich in high fiber foods (like pears) might reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Flavorful sweetness. Reducing added sugar is an important part of keeping blood sugar levels stable at meals and snacks and avoiding spikes, or quick rises, in blood sugar levels. When you use pears to add flavorful sweetness to things like plain oats or yogurt, you get sweetness along with lots of flavor, so you wind up needing to use a lot less sugar (and oftentimes you won’t need any sugar at all!). Pears also add natural sweetness to smoothies and peanut butter sandwiches, so you can skip the added sweeteners altogether.

Kitchen creativity and fun. Being diagnosed with diabetes can feel overwhelming when it comes to revamping your food choices to keep your blood sugar levels more stable. Pears are a delicious way to add flavor and fun to your time in the kitchen, whether it’s diced in a chicken salad, sliced in a turkey sandwich, or ”pear-ed” with aged cheddar cheese for a snack. A diabetes diagnosis might mean changes to the way you eat, but it certainly doesn’t have to mean bland or boring meals and snacks!

For additional information on pears and diabetes, check out this link.

These 15 Pear-a-licious Dishes Will Win Thanksgiving

Between family gatherings, office parties and every kind of celebration in between, we often find ourselves overindulging during the holidays. This isn’t a bad thing as we all deserve to treat ourselves every once in a while. This is where pears come in! Besides being sweet, juicy and delicious, they are also high in fiber and are sodium free, fat-free, and cholesterol free, plus they’re a good source of vitamin C! Pears can make for a creative and healthier alternative to many holiday dishes. Even if whatever you’re cooking isn’t super healthy, you can at least add nutritional value simply by including pears. Plus, all 10 varieties of USA Pears are in season right now, which means there are lots of possibilities when it comes to using them in whatever you cook. With Thanksgiving around the corner, we decided to dig through our recipes and find a handful of pear-a-licious ones to share with you. From sides and sauces to appetizers and desserts, these fifteen dishes are sure to make an impression at the table.

Crunchy Pear Cobbler

Savory Pear and Gruyere Tart

Roasted Pears with Camembert Cheese

Savory Pear, Ham and Gruyere Strata

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Pears, Wild Rice and Walnuts 

Warm Peanut-crusted Goat Cheese with Roasted Pears

Pear, Fennel, Onion and Squash Gratin

Bread Stuffing with Pears, Bacon and Caramelized Onions

Cinnamon Pear Sauce 

Bosc Pear Cranberry Orange Sauce

Panzanella Salad with Pears

Roasted Pears with Delicata Squash

Espresso and Cherry Poached Pears

Pear Pecan Pumpkin Spice Bread 

Pear Parsnip Soup with Pecan Blue Cheese Crackers and Pear Paste

 

5 Ways You Can Celebrate World Pear Day 2017

2017 marks the second year we are officially celebrating World Pear Day, which kicks off National Pear Month in December.  We are excited to share the festivities with pear lovers around the world on December 2. Beginning in New Zealand, people will have the opportunity to taste a variety of USA-grown pears via pop-up sampling opportunities in more than 24 countries including China, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and the U.S. for 24 hours of continuous sampling and promotion of USA Pears. For those of you looking to pear-take in the fun, here are five ways you can celebrate World Pear Day!

 

1. Use the hashtag #WorldPearDay!

Part of what makes World Pear Day so exciting is the chance to connect with pear lovers across the globe, and the best way to do that is by joining in on the conversation using the #WorldPearDay hashtag. Show your pear love on social media by sharing your favorite variety (do you even Anjou, bro?!), posting pictures of pears, making silly pear puns, or just saying whatever comes to mind! Whatever you post, make sure to use the #WorldPearDay hashtag. And who knows, maybe you’ll even win a prize?!

2. Help break a world record!

This year we are kicking things up a notch with a Guinness World Record attempt! As part of our 24 hours of continuous sampling activity around the globe, we will be aiming to break a record in the following categories:

Largest distribution of pear samples

 

This a lofty goal but with your help we can succeed! If you live in one of the 24 countries where pear sampling events will be held, keep an eye out at your local supermarket or grocer. If you come across a sampling event, do your part to help us break a record by enjoying a pear!

3. Share a pear!

Sweet and juicy pears are so much better when shared with friends. Check the Neck to make sure your pears are ripe, grab a pear slicer, and hand out slices of fresh pears to as many friends as you can gather.  All 10 varieties of USA Pears are in season right now, so it’s the perfect time try out new ones. You’ll be the life of the party.

4. Test your culinary skills!

Pears are delicious on their own, but the possibilities are endless when it comes to cooking with them. From baking to poaching and everything in between, there are plenty of chances to put your culinary creativity to the test with pears. If you’re looking to cook something that is quick, easy and healthy, here are some recipes that are sure to impress:

Bartlett Pear Quesadilla

Pear “Toasts”

Baked Pear Trail Mix

Browse through tons more pear-a-licious recipes HERE!

5. Get your sample on!

Who doesn’t love free stuff?! Starting in New Zealand and ending in Portland, Oregon (home of USA Pears!), we will be hosting pear sampling events in 24 countries over the course of 24 hours. Whether you live in Abu Dhabi or Sao Paolo, there will be opportunities to taste a handful of different pear varieties. Not only that, but representatives from USA Pears will be hosting games and giving out pear-iffic prizes at each sampling event.

Make sure to follow @USAPears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for World Pear Day updates! 

 

Pear Pecan Pumpkin Spice Bread

Some “breads” are actually quite sweet and sugary, acting more like cake than bread. This Pear Pecan Pumpkin Spice Bread lets the naturally sweet taste of the pears shine through without any added sugar AND it pears perfectly (pun intended) with savory dishes like a steamy bowl of butternut squash soup. It’ll also look beautiful on your holiday table!

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

2 fresh ripe USA Pears – peel, core, cut into pieces

2 fresh USA Pears with stem – cut in half (leave core attached), core and peel

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon pumpkin spice

2 teaspoons cocoa – unsweetened

½ cup extra virgin olive light oil or avocado oil

½ cup plain Greek yogurt – plain

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2/3 cup almond milk

1/4 cup pecans – chopped

Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350◦F

Coat a loaf pan (9 X 5 inch) with cooking spray. Set aside.

Place pears that are peeled, cored, cut into pieces into a food processor and puree. Set aside.

Spoon flours into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.

In a medium bowl, whisk flours together with the next 6 ingredients (through cocoa).

In a large bowl combine oil, yogurt, vanilla extract, eggs, syrup, almond milk and pureed pears and beat with a hand mixer until combined.

Add flour mixture to above mixture and beat at a low speed just until combined (don’t over mix.)

Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle pecans evenly on top.

Arrange pear halves into the loaf pan, pressing each into batter.

Bake bread in loaf pan for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then carefully remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Serving suggestion: Serve a slice of bread alongside a steamy bowl of soup, like butternut squash. A perfect pear!

Fall is the Pear-fect Time for Sweet Swaps

Let me set the record straight: there’s no one food that’s a miracle cure for all ailments, nor is there just one food that is responsible for causing all of our health issues. Balance is what’s key when it comes to a healthy diet.

If there is one food that adds calories without adding much value, it’s sugar. Sugar is what I call, The Master of Disguise, appearing more often on food labels than you might realize, and not always spelled as s-u-g-a-r. These aliases can show up on ingredient lists as molasses, high fructose corn syrup, organic cane juice, and dozens of other names.

The good news is that our new food labels (on or before January 2020) will finally differentiate between natural sugar (the sugar that is inherently within foods like milk, yogurt and fruit) and added sugar (the sugar and its substitutes that food companies add to their products).

In the meantime, it’s best to get your sweets from natural sources, like fruit, which don’t even need to wear any labels. Pears are an example of a delicious fruit that not only satisfies your sweet tooth, but also brings a bushel of other nutritional benefits.

Did you know that one medium-sized pear provides 6 grams of fiber, a nutrient most of us don’t seem to get enough of? Fiber helps you feel fuller for longer and helps food move through your system more efficiently, two important factors that could help promote weight loss and better digestion. Pears also contain important nutrients including vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium, and an array of antioxidants…and contain only 100 calories!

Although a juicy pear can stand on its own as a snack or even dessert, you can also purée pears and use them as a “sweet swap” in a variety of recipes. For example, pear purée can be substituted for refined sugar in baked goods – like cookies, cakes and breads – as a natural sweetener. With Halloween and the holidays on the horizon, sugary temptations are inevitable. Don’t be afraid to put a spin on a classic recipe by trying a pear purée sweet swap. You might just be creating a new crowd favorite!

Inspired to try a sweet swap recipe? Try my Crunchy Pear Cobbler for dessert tonight — it’s so easy to put together and even easier to enjoy!

Pear and Pumpkin Pancakes with Cider Syrup

Chilly fall mornings are back! Before bundling up the family for a trip to the pumpkin patch, fill them up with a hearty breakfast that celebrates the season. Grated pears add sweetness to a fall favorite, pumpkin pancakes, limiting the sugar and bumping up the nutrition. Here it’s best to use a tender, juicy pear variety that is on the sweeter side, such as Bartlett, Comice, Anjou, or Starkrimson. To top it off, pear cider is cooked down with maple syrup to make a simple yet delicious all-natural syrup for drizzling. Serve with bacon and eggs for a complete brunch while entertaining houseguests when the holidays roll around. These fluffy flapjacks are sure to be a new family favorite.

Makes 12 pancakes (serves 4 to 6)

Pancakes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

1/2 cup pumpkin purée

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 ripe USA Pears, coarsely shredded

Syrup

2 cups pear cider

1 cup maple syrup

2 cinnamon sticks

For Serving

Unsalted butter

Powdered sugar

To make the pancakes: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the buttermilk, pumpkin purée, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the shredded pears.

Fold the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until mostly combined. Set the batter aside for 10 to 20 minutes.

To make the syrup: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the cider, syrup, and cinnamon sticks to a boil. Simmer until the mixture reduces by about half and is slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks and keep the syrup warm.

To cook the pancakes: Preheat the oven to 150 to 200˚F to keep the pancakes warm while cooking in batches.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat and melt about 1 tablespoon of butter, swirling it around to coat the pan. Add 1/4 cup portions of batter to the pan, gently spreading it out with the bottom of the measuring cup. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the bottoms are nicely browned, 1 to 2 minutes, then flip and continue cooking on the second side, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more. Transfer the pancakes to the warm oven, and repeat to cook additional batches.

Serve the pancakes with pats of butter, a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and the warm cider syrup drizzled on top.

Add Pears to Your Tailgate or Watch-Party Spread

Tailgate and game watch party food are among my favorite meal categories. While I love indulging in some of the heartier game-day fare, I also like to balance things out and cleanse my palate with fresh produce. Juicy and naturally sweet USA Pears, which offer an excellent source of fiber (6 grams for a medium size), can play a crave-worthy role in any game-day menu.

A fresh, fruit salad is a staple dish I always enjoy on game day, whether it’s a get-together that I’m hosting or one where I’m attending as a guest. A fruit salad is also a crowd-pleaser, from toddlers to adults. (On a side note: The other day, my 4-year-old spotted the first pears of the season on our kitchen counter and literally squealed, “Ooh! Can I have one?” True story.)

While pears are in peak season during fall and winter, mix them into a salad with other fall fruits, like I did here in this Pear, Apple, and Grape Salad with Thyme and Walnuts. Or, if you’re a true pear connoisseur like me, use a few different pear varieties with a range of colors and textures and use just pears in your fall fruit salad!

I also add pears in my White Wine Sangria with Winter Fruits and in my mixed green salad made of spinach, arugula, pears, toasted almonds, and vinaigrette.

Happy tailgating!

Michelle Dudash, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist, Cordon Bleu-certified chef, and author of Clean Eating for Busy Families. Join her on Instagram at @michelledudash for more delicious and healthy eating inspiration.

Want more fun pear-ific recipes to please a crowd? Check out our Recipes page!

Eating Seasonally

Pears with mother and son

You may have heard mention of the importance of eating seasonally, but what does that mean and why does it matter? Eating produce when it is in season is not a new idea, in fact, it was the norm before industrialized agriculture and giant grocery stores. The general idea is that we eat foods when they are naturally harvested, such as berries in the summer and pears starting in the fall. The nutritional benefit is that seasonal fruits and vegetables tend to pack more nutrients and richer flavors than foods that should ripen before being harvested or during shipment. And in this way, seasonal foods tend to be cheaper and less damaging to the environment. An interesting fact about pears is that optimal ripening actually occurs after being harvested and cold storage, and therefore, they are available nearly year-round!

So which fruits and vegetables should I eat now? Interestingly, autumn is the season when the most produce is harvested, including pears, apples, grapes, persimmons, kale, broccoli, squash, and brussels sprouts. Check out SNAP-Ed for a more detailed list to get your mouth watering! Try adding fresh seasonal produce to recipes for added flavor and texture. On a side note, since canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are picked during their peak seasons, these are also excellent choices as additions to your dishes. Look for products without added sauces and fruits packed in juice to limit added sugars. Happy eating!

For more information, visit the American Heart Association.

Three Reasons & Ways to PEAR More Often This School Year

By Ashley Koff RD*

An apple for the teacher? Why not a pear?! I love pears, so I get especially excited during this time of year. Pear season is kicking off (look for Bartletts, Red Bartletts and Starkrimsons!), and before I share some of my favorite ways to enjoy pears, I thought I would tell you a little about the nutritional benefits of this healthy, in-season fruit.

  1. Pears pack fiber – If you are trying to improve your fiber intake,** then pears are your better choice. A medium pear provides about 6 grams, which is a great way to help you meet your daily fiber goals. Plus, fiber helps you feel full and satisfied longer, so when it comes to smart snacking, fiber is a must.
  2. Pears have excellent skin – with pears it’s best to eat the skin for the better nutrition win! Rich in a variety of plant compounds like flavonoids, as well as providing fiber, I recommend enjoying your pear skin and all!
  3. Pears offer variety – different flavors, colors and textures for different dishes means there are so many ways to bring pears into your better nutrition plan more often.

So, with all that good news here are some of my favorite ways to snack on pears – perfect to help power parents and kids through the new school year:

Slice ‘em up and use them as “toast” or “crackers” for a better nutrition upgrade more often.

  • I love topping mine with nut butter, delicious spices (like turmeric) and cacao nibs for extra crunch (see my photo).
  • Take slices, add nut butter or cheese or dairy-free nut cheese and make mini sandwiches to take with you as an easy midday better nutrition pit stop and a great after school or pre-workout snack.

Pear Egg Boats

  • Halve a pear, scoop out a little space in the center, add an egg and bake/broil.
  • Top with cayenne pepper and/or a pinch of sea salt. Share on Instagram or just eat it on up J

Dice ‘n Swap

  • Move over croutons, pear cubes just took your salad from a 50 to 100% delicious and packed with better nutrition.
  • You can roll your pear cubes in oil and some spices and bake them for a different taste.

Pear Dippers

  • Slice firm pears lengthwise to make dippers
  • Dip in yogurt, hummus, and even chocolate (oh and you can freeze these too for an awesome bite later on!).

*Ashley Koff RD is a raving fan of pears (I love writing about myself in the third person 😉 but I am also told its proper for legal disclosures). She is a paid sponsor for this post by USA Pears

** Adults need >25g fiber minimum daily and many of you are not hitting that number often enough. How do you know if you are meeting your better fiber needs? Try the Better Fiber Evaluation to assess your current fiber nutrition intake and needs.