Fresh Pears and Burrata Cheese with Hazelnut-Mint Pesto

Burrata takes fresh mozzarella to another level. This creamy, oozy fresh cheese is a hollow ball of mozzarella filled with the decadent blend of cream and ricotta-like curds. The marriage of juicy pears and creamy cheese is a classic, but this love affair is particularly amazing. The simplicity of slicing pears and piling the luxurious burrata on top, then spooning on some homemade hazelnut-mint pesto, will make this your new favorite party starter, but it’s also an extra-special snack to have on hand at any time. Pair with an herbaceous white wine, like sauvignon blanc or Italian vermentino.

Serves 6 (makes 12)

Ingredients:

1 cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts

1 small clove garlic

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, plus more for brushing

2 (4-ounce) balls burrata cheese, drained

3 large pears

Directions: 

Combine the mint, hazelnuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor and process to a coarse paste. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil to make a loose sauce. Add the lemon juice and process to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (The pesto will keep in the refrigerator with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly against the surface to prevent browning for up to 3 days.)

Just before serving, cut the pears lengthwise into four 1/4-inch-thick planks, reserving the bulbous edges for another use. Use a paring knife to cut out the core from the middle slices. Brush the planks on both sides with lemon juice to prevent browning. Tear each burrata ball into 6 chunks and place a piece on each pear. Spoon the pesto on top, and serve immediately.

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

Why Nutrition Buzzwords Aren’t Worth the Buzz

Scrolling through the health news can be interesting, exciting even, and downright maddening! Popular media suggests some interesting things about the public concept of nutrition – and it isn’t founded in science. Beware! Nutrition buzzwords are a part of media campaigns aimed at selling products, diets, books, or supplements, and they’re pretty successful. Here are a handful of the popular buzzwords that make me roll my eyes, and why we should stop using them.

  • Clean eating: What exactly is a “clean” or “real” food? Carefully choosing minimally processed foods is reasonable, but excessive restriction can cause nutritional inadequacy.
  • Cleanse or detox: Your liver and kidneys already do this, so don’t waste your money or starve yourself. Plus, these extreme measures can be dangerous!
  • “Boost” or “jump start” your metabolism: This simply doesn’t mean anything.
  • Superfoods: No capes here. Just because something is high in antioxidants or other nutritive quality doesn’t make it the only choice for your diet. We thrive on variety!
  • “Good” or “bad” foods: We have to break the diet dichotomy and recognize there is a place for everything. Learn to listen to your body and what it needs.
  • Low carb/Keto: These trends suggest foods high in carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, should be avoided. The opposite is true! Cutting out entire macronutrients is not a healthful – or sustainable – practice.

Nutrition isn’t simple, it’s science. It influences and is influenced by every aspect of life: biochemical, medical, environmental, financial, social, and so on. The truth is, a perfect diet doesn’t exist. We are all individuals with unique needs, and there is no quick fix to health. But if you’re looking for a change or to feel better, keep it simple. Eat more fruits more vegetables, choose lean protein sources and more plant proteins, and add small amounts of nuts or liquid fats. An active jaunt around the block will help, too. Small changes really do add up, so start with the next bite!

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Pulled Pork and Pear Tacos with Pear Pico de Gallo

Time for a taco party! In this festive recipe, pears appear in two ways: braised with pork shoulder to create depth and sweetness for a juicy, shredded taco filling, and also mixed into a zesty pear and jicama pico de gallo for topping. There will be plenty of the flavorful slow-cooked meat to feed a crowd, and any leftovers can be frozen for quick taco making for future weeknight dinners. Serve with margaritas and chips and salsa to round out the menu.

Ingredients:

3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder (pork butt)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon chile powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 large ripe USA Pears, peeled and chopped

1 small white onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems

4 canned chipotle chiles with a little extra sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lime

Pear Pico de Gallo

1 1/2 cups finely diced USA Green Bartlett Pear

1 cup finely diced jicama

4 finely minced green onions

1/4 cup minced cilantro

2 minced jalapeños, or to taste

Juice of 1 lime

Kosher salt, to taste

Corn or flour tortillas, for serving

1 avocado, sliced

Sour cream, for serving

Pulled Pork and Pear Tacos with Pear Pico de Gallo

Directions:

To make the pulled pork: Cut the pork into 4 large chunks and season them with salt, chile powder, cumin, and pepper, coating all sides. Put the pork in a slow cooker and add the pears, onion, cilantro, chipotle chiles, and garlic, and squeeze the lime juice over everything. Cover and cook on until the meat easily shreds, 8 to 10 hours on low, or 4 to 6 hours on high. (This can also be cooked in an Instant Pot at high pressure for 75 minutes, following manufacturer’s instructions.) Shred the meat using two forks right in the slow cooker, discarding any fatty pieces. Keep warm.

To make the pico de gallo: Mix all ingredients in a small bowl up to 2 hours before serving.

Serve the pulled pork in warmed tortillas, topped with avocado, sour cream, and the pico de gallo, as desired.

(Leftover meat will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months.)

Pork and Pear Tacos

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

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

Pear Kimchi

Pear Kimchi

Sweet pears and spicy flavors make for a winning combination. Kimchi, the mainstay of every Korean table, has been gaining mass appeal in recent years. Prized for its health benefits and irresistible spiciness, kimchi is becoming a staple condiment in many homes. If you’ve never made your own, then this version, featuring pears and crunchy root vegetables, is a great place to start. This is a quick kimchi recipe, meant to enjoy immediately. Serve it alongside a simple roast pork with steamed rice and sautéed greens, add it to a vegan grain bowl, place it atop ramen noodles or in lettuce wraps—you’ll find that the ways to enjoy fresh kimchi are endless.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients: 

2 large white root vegetables, such as kohlrabi or turnips

2 large slightly underripe USA Pears

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup chives cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup coarsely ground gochugaru (Korean red chile flakes)

2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 (1 1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled

3 to 4 tablespoons water

Black or toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish

Directions:

First, trim and peel the root vegetable bulbs and cut them into 2-inch-long by 1/4-inch-thick rectangular sticks (like French fries). Peel and core the pears and cut them the same way. Combine the pear and vegetable sticks in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Gently but thoroughly massage them in. Set the bowl aside at room temperature until the pears and veggies are tender and pliable and have given up a lot of juices, 20 to 30 minutes, tossing once about halfway through.

Drain off the accumulated juices, and rinse in several changes of cold water, then drain well and gently press out as much moisture as possible. Return the pear mixture to the bowl and add the chives.

Process the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar with the gochugaru, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, and 3 tablespoons water in a food processor to a smooth paste. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of water, if needed. Thoroughly mix the paste into the pear mixture.

The fresh kimchi can be enjoyed immediately, or it can be kept in a container with a tight-fitting lid and kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

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

To Snack or Not to Snack? Intuitive Eating Answers the Question

That is the question of the hour! Popular media is full of nutrition advice, often encouraging wacky diets that cut specific food groups, macronutrients, or favorites. (Like cupcakes, I can’t live without cupcakes!) In this landscape of restrictive eating, I see people struggling with the constant merry-go-round of weight loss, weight gain, loss, gain… I know people not eating for long stretches each day or only eating every other day. The truth is, most of us can lose weight if we’re motivated. But, diets don’t teach us to listen to our bodies, which can lead to weight gain.

Intuitive eating is a lifestyle strategy that encourages mindfulness – listening to your body, rather than telling it what to do. It’s not a radical concept, but it’s one that encourages a healthy relationship with food and the body. By letting go of the diet mindset, rejecting the good food/bad food dichotomy, and allowing ourselves to enjoy food while listening to what we need, we can cast off the media spell that our bodies were all made from the same mold — and live better lives. Here are five of my favorite principles of intuitive eating…

1. Honor your hunger. This is simple: If your body is hungry, nourish it.

2. Respect your fullness. Listen to your body. When it tells you it’s no longer hungry and is comfortably sated, it is appropriate to stop eating. If you’re a fast eater like me, consciously take your time, rest your fork, and listen to what your body is saying.

3. Discover the satisfaction factor. If you truly “allow” yourself to enjoy favorite foods, you will feel more satisfied – likely with less food.

4. Honor your feelings without food. Instead of finding comfort in food when you are sad, stressed, or bored, find other activities that fill emotional needs.

5. Honor your health. Your health is a composite over time, not one snack or meal. Listen to what your body needs, choose foods that nourish, and eat with compassion.

So, what is the answer, should we snack or not? If your body says it needs a snack, then, listen to your biology. When a little hunger kicks in I try to reach for a yummy snack that fuels my busy life, like a pear with peanut butter. Living healthfully feels good, but it feels better off the carousel.

For more information, visit http://www.intuitiveeating.org.

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5 Tips for Plant-Powering Your Eating Style

Plant-based eating is hot, hot, hot! More and more people are turning away from the traditional American plate – with a slab of meat at the center – towards a gorgeous, colorful, plant-centric plate filled with pulses (beans, lentils, peas), whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. No wonder this eating style is catching on—it’s downright delicious! From a whole grain bowl filled with chickpeas, pears and sunflower seeds, to a homemade veggie burger with avocado slices, there are so many delicious offerings.

A plant-based diet doesn’t mean that you have to give up meat altogether if you don’t want to; it just means that your diet focuses mostly on plants. This flexitarian eating style is linked with a boatload of benefits, such as lower risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and obesity, as well as lowering your carbon footprint. With so many reasons to go crazy for plants, what are you waiting for?

My Top 5 Tips for Plant-Powering Your Diet

1. Breakfast with Plants 

Kick off the day by flooding your body with feel-good nutrients from plants. Try nutritious, tasty starters, such as oats topped with pear slices and walnuts, buckwheat waffles with almond butter and berries, or a veggie burrito stuffed with sautéed veggies and black beans. See what I mean?

2. Whiz Up a Plant Smoothie

For energy and protein fuel, turn to your blender to create a plant-powered smoothie for a healthy snack or light meal. Throw in soymilk, a handful of nuts or seeds, sliced pears, and greens to create a lean, mean, green smoothie

3. Meal Prep

Instead of turning to takeout or fast food, pack your own nutritious lunch combinations by prepping your meals at the beginning of the week following this easy formula:

In an individual, airtight container layer: Salad greens (kale, arugula, spinach) + whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, farro) + plant protein (beans, lentils, tofu) + veggies (bell pepper, broccoli, snow peas) + fruit (diced pears, raisins, blueberries) + sauce (tahini dressing, vinaigrette, hummus) = nutritious and delicious.

4. Let Plants be the Star on Your Dinner Plate

When you ask the question, “What’s for dinner tonight?”, go straight to the plants in your fruit bowl, refrigerator and pantry. With simple ingredients, such as pears, quinoa, carrots and pistachios, you can create a flavorful pilaf. Yum!

5. Snack on Plants

You don’t have to limit your plant offerings to mealtime; munch on them between meals by dipping snow peas into tahini, pear wedges into almond butter, and whole grain flatbread into hummus.

Looking for more ins-pear-ation? Here’s my easy, delicious recipe for Jade Pear Pistachio Salad.

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

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Pear and Chicken Meatball Banh Mi Sandwiches

Spring is in the air so let’s look to fresh flavors from Asian herbs, lemongrass, ginger, and crunchy vegetables to highlight pears. In this new take on the popular banh mi sandwich, you’ll find ripe pears mixed into mini meatballs that are inspired by the flavorful flattened patties served at traditional banh mi stands throughout Vietnam. They also appear in a crunchy, quick-pickled mélange of pears and carrots that tops the sandwiches. The meatballs and tangy topping are tucked into individual baguettes and adorned with cucumbers, jalapeños, and vibrant herbs.

Serves 6 (Makes about 18 meatballs)

Ingredients: 

Pickled Pear and Carrot Topping

1 cup pears cut into 2-inch-by-1/8-inch sticks

1 cup carrots cut into 2-inch-by-1/8-inch sticks

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Meatballs

1 pound ground chicken

3/4 cup peeled USA Pears cut in 1/4-inch dice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, peeled, and tender inner core minced

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon Vietnamese fish sauce

2 teaspoons sriracha

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, plus more as needed

Sandwiches

6 individual baguettes or 2 baguettes cut into 6 (8- to 10-inch-long) segments

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sriracha chile sauce

18 cucumber slices

2 to 3 thinly sliced jalapeño chiles

12 fresh cilantro sprigs

Fresh Thai basil leaves (optional)

Directions:

To make the topping: Toss all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, tossing occasionally. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days.

To make the meatballs: Combine all of the ingredients, except the sesame oil, in a medium bowl.

Heat the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook the meatball patties by scooping up heaping tablespoons of the meat mixture and dotting them around the pan at least 1-inch apart. Cook until nicely browned on the first side, then flip them over and sear on the second side until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Repeat to cook the remaining meat mixture, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

To make the sandwiches: Cut the baguettes in half lengthwise. Pull out some of the bread from the top half to make room for the fillings. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and sriracha. Spread the sriracha mayo on the cut sides of each baguette. Arrange the cucumber slices on the bottom halves. Add 3 meatballs to each, and top with the drained pickle topping, jalapeno slices, and herbs.

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

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

5 Pear Salads To Freshen Up Your Spring

When you think of spring, what comes to mind? Nourishment, freshness and rejuvenation may all describe it, and not just the season but also your diet and lifestyle. If you’re the type who hibernates all winter, then spring is ideal from coming out of your shell and embracing healthy choices and better eating habits before summer hits.

Besides their sweetness, pears make a great addition to salads as a way to elevate the nutritional value of the dish. One medium-sized pear packs 6 grams of fiber and contains zero sodium, fat or cholesterol, so you get all of the flavor and texture without the unhealthiness. Plus, when it comes salads, there are endless pear-ssibilities! We recommend kicking off spring with these five flavorful pear salads to suit any occasion.

1. Grilled and Fresh Pear Salad with Chile Oil and Togarashi

Try this flavorful Thai inspired salad with grilled and fresh pears for contrasting flavor and texture. The complex spice and chile blend to brighten a meal.

2. Warm Greens with Balsamic Lentils and Roasted Pears

Here is a hearty salad to warm and nourish you. Honey sweet roasted pears and tangy balsamic lentils are tossed with winter greens to make this simple and balanced meal. Serve the salad while still warm, but be sure to save the leftovers – this salad will be delicious straight from the refrigerator the next day after the flavors have continued to meld. If you desire a little more richness, try topping the salad with long curls of parmesan cheese.

3. USA Pear Super Simple Signature Salad

A classic salad suitable for a delicious, nutritious entree! The tangy crumbled blue cheese is delightfully offset by the sweet and juicy pear. Woodsy balsamic vinegar gives this salad further depth and hearty flavor. The greens can also be changed to spinach to give the salad extra nutrients. Roasted almonds or candied walnuts are good options with spinach.

4. Pear and Watercress Salad with Goat Cheese Gouda and Walnuts

This salad pairs sweet and juicy pears with peppery watercress and pungent cheese in a perfect blend to welcome spring to your dinner table.

5. Crunchy Vegetable and Pear Salad

This tasty salad is full of crisp, colorful vegetables and sweet Red Anjou Pears. Toss it with almond butter-based dressing (sweetened with dates instead of refined sugar), and enjoy it as a quick lunch or an easy dinner side.

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

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6 Ways to Eat Well, Waste Less and Save Money

Each March ushers in spring and National Nutrition Month! This annual celebration of nourishing the body through food began with the presidential proclamation of National Nutrition Week in 1973. This year’s theme is Go Further with Food, which encourages us to achieve the benefits of eating well while reducing food waste. In other words, planning and managing food resources will save both nutrients and money! The message of eating well while saving money is particularly close to my heart, and who doesn’t want more money in the bank?

We can also think about nutrition status as a bank. We have nutrients stored in the body; when we eat we make a deposit and when we’re active we make a withdrawal. Throughout the day, the goal is to maintain appropriate fuel for living our best lives, and the same idea is true for your food budget. If you eat mindfully, you’ll get more out of your resources on hand rather than be relying on the bank. How can you eat well, waste less, and save more money? Start with these six steps…

1. Plan ahead! Some people spend an afternoon preparing food for the week. My weekends are too busy for this, but I still manage to plan at least 1-2 days ahead to prevent splurging. This means I eat better and spend less on food!

2. Visit the grocery store more often. This seems counterintuitive, but shopping more often means you can purchase less at a time, have fresher food on hand, and waste less food.

3. This may be the easiest change to make: Think about what you already have in the fridge before purchasing at the store. This deters spending more and prevents food waste!

4. Eat only until you’re satisfied. Overeating means spending more calories and money over time. Instead, portion out how much your body needs and slow down!

5. Fuel properly. Being active is important, so fuel your body with a wide variety of foods to go further.

6. Think about alternatives to more expensive foods. Usually, the most expensive choices are animal proteins and out-of-season or exotic produce. Consider vegetarian protein choices, such as legumes, whole grains, eggs, and low-fat dairy. Likewise, choose fruit and vegetables that are in season, or choose frozen or low-sodium canned options. Some fruit, such as pears, are available year-round for a delicious, nutritious option!

With a little forethought, you can go further with food. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for more ideas!

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Want more ideas? Check out delicious, heart-healthy recipes at USA Pears!

3 Simple Ways to Spring Clean Your Diet

They say that summer bodies are made during the winter. If that’s the case, what happens during spring? For many of us, when spring has finally sprung, crunch time inevitably has as well.

Say goodbye to wintertime excuses and say hello to a version of yourself that looks and feels the way that you want to. Spring is a time of renewal and growth, after all! To start summer with a clean slate, it’s crucial to look at what you put on your plate. Here are 3 ways to do so:

1. Fiber up – When it comes to cleaning up their diets, most people focus on what they can’t have, rather than what they can have. This notion of deprivation can make eating healthily seem, well, dreadful and depressing. Fear not: clean eating need NOT involve deprivation, dread, or depression. One of the most simple, enjoyable, and effective ways to make healthy and sustainable lifestyle changes actually comes down to adding MORE to your diet—adding more fiber, that is. A diet rich in fiber is associated with a host of health benefits, such as fighting against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancers, and, yes, dreaded weight gain. Fiber acts as a “broom” that sweeps harmful toxins from your body.

So how do you get your hands on some of the good stuff? Well, pears are a delicious way to start. A medium-size pear packs 6 grams of fiber, which brings you closer to your daily needs. What are these needs? Women should aim for 35 grams, and men should aim for 38.

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – As the days become longer and temperatures begin to increase, so does your body’s need for water. Make sure that you sip on water throughout the day and with meals, aiming for 2-3 liters of water a day. Water is involved in nearly all bodily functions, and fiber, as mentioned above, needs water to work its magic! Your hydration need not be sourced entirely from liquids though—piling your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables can help keep you hydrated too, as they tend to have a high water content. Pears, for example, are 84% water. Pair that with some actual agua, though, to ensure that you’re consuming an adequate amount of water.

3. Clean out and stock up – Spring cleaning shouldn’t just take place in your closet. Show your pantry and fridge some TLC during this season of renewal, too. Get rid of the products and ingredients that have been sitting around collecting dust and freezer burn and use the season of rejuvenation as a time to clean house. To set yourself up for success, attack this task with a plan: make a list—and check it twice, taking into consideration the tricky temptations and tastes that tempt you. Then, select better-for-you options that will satisfy those pesky cravings and keep you looking and feeling your best. If potato chips are your thing, try popcorn, which is also salty and crunchy, but has 3g of fiber per serving too. If your sweet tooth occasionally seems to be your only tooth, or if you suffer from spring allergies, purchase pears, which not only contain fiber, but are also rich in quercetin, a flavonoid that can also help to prevent immune cells from releasing histamines, which worsen seasonal allergies. Better-for-you options are easier to find than you think!

A refreshed, rejuvenated you awaits! So long, winter—lean, green spring is calling!

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Want more ideas? Check out delicious, heart-healthy recipes at USA Pears!