Celebrate Pear Love During American Heart Month

With an occasion like Valentine’s Day, there’s no better month to celebrate the heart than February. Embracing heart-healthy habits this Valentine’s season can translate to a lifetime of improved wellness, and one is as simple as eating more of a delicious food you enjoy – pears!

According to the American Heart Association, many factors contribute to heart disease, including your diet, activity level, age, and genetics. However, eating more produce may help fend off a heart attack or stroke. Pears in particular are an excellent source of fiber and a good source of immune-supporting Vitamin C – both key nutrients linked to heart health. With 6 grams, one medium pear provides nearly a quarter of the daily recommended fiber intake.

Including more pears in your diet – especially Green Anjou, Red Anjou, Bartlett and Bosc pears, which have all been Heart Health Certified by the American Heart Association – is one simple tactic for taking good care of your ticker. And it’s easy to incorporate pears into meals, snacks, and desserts. Blend a ripe pear into your morning smoothie or fold a diced or shredded pear into your oatmeal. Add fresh or oven roasted pear slices to a garden salad or mix chopped pears into a gingery stir-fry. At snack time, pair a fresh sliced pear with either almond butter or Mediterranean olives. For dessert, drizzle whole pears with a combo of maple syrup, fresh ginger and cinnamon, and bake in the oven, or dip fresh pear slices into melted dark chocolate.

Another savvy heart-health strategy is to simply keep more fruit, including pears, on hand, within sight and reach. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 90% of Americans fall short of the recommended minimum daily fruit intake. During American Heart Month, USA Pears is promoting a social contest called #WhatsInYourFruitBowl. The belief is that keeping a well-stocked fruit bowl within easy reach is a simple way to inspire more people to reach for fresh fruit. Give it a try and track your own fruit intake. And for more information about pears and heart health, visit http://usapears.org/heart-disease-and-stroke/.

Make sure to follow USA Pears on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for all things pears!

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

5 Meal Prep Tips for a Healthy New Year

A healthier new year starts with building better nutrition habits. Cooking is one way to get yourself into a healthier groove, and adding a little bit of meal planning to make a significant difference! Making sure you have a well-balanced, varied diet can easily be achieved with meal prep. Here are 5 meal prep tips to give you a head start:

1. Less is more

Begin meal prepping with recipes that are easy to prepare and require simple ingredients. I like to select recipes with no more than 10 ingredients (less is better!). Once you get the swing of preparing these recipes, you can expand to more robust dishes.

2. Batch cook

Cook a large amount (double or triple the quantity of a recipe) so you can enjoy part of it that day, and then save or freeze the rest for another day in the week. Dishes that freeze well include chili, soups, meatballs and muffins.

3. Creatively reuse

Eating the same exact meal every night can get boring, especially if you have kids! Repurpose your meal creatively throughout the week. For example, grilled pears can be enjoyed in a sandwich, sliced and diced into a salad, or blended into a savory soup.

4. Don’t forget snacks

Snacks should include foods and nutrients that you may not get enough of during meals. As 90% of Americans don’t get enough vegetables and 85% don’t get enough fruit, snacks are a perfect way to add them to your healthy eating plan. Plan for snacks like sliced pears and cheese, Greek yogurt topped with granola, or trail mix.

5. Stock up on containers

The right containers are everything to a meal prepper. Stock up on containers that take up less space and are BPA-free, leak-proof, dishwasher safe, freezer safe and microwave safe. You may also want to stock up on glass jars or bento boxes so you can easily tote your meals to work.

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

Make sure to follow USA Pears on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for all things pears!

Toby Amidor, MS, RD is a nutrition expert and author of best-selling The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook and The Greek Yogurt Kitchen.

Here’s How to Celebrate National Pear Month!

There is a whole month to celebrate pears? Why yes, yes there is! Personally, I believe pears should be celebrated ALL year long, but I especially celebrate the bounty of pears in December when it is National Pear Month.

As a nutritionist with 20 years of experience under my belt, I have found few foods that bring me as much joy and energy as a pear. They are versatile when it comes to cooking, are juicy and sweet, and because of their fiber content, keep me satiated. In honor of the month-long designated occasion, here are 3 reasons to get into the pear spirit:

Pears have more fiber than most other fruits. A graphic showing how pears rank higher than bananas and oranges in fiber

1. Nutritional Benefits

  • Fiber: A medium pear has 6 grams of fiber, which equals about 24 percent of the recommended daily value. Did you know that the skin contains the majority of the fiber found in a pear?
  • Hypoallergenic: With an ever-growing population of food allergies, pears have been coined to be hypoallergenic. Safe food is good food!
  • Pectin: Pectin is an essential water-soluble fiber that helps to bind to cholesterol and remove it from the body making pears an excellent addition to anyone with high cholesterol.

2. Endless Culinary Possibilities 

  • Combining both the natural sweetness of pears, beets and sweet potatoes, with just a slight hint of ginger, look no further for a tasty dish. By the way, fresh ginger contains natural anti-inflammatory properties making it a perfect and delicious pear-ing.

3. The Time is Ripe

All 10 varieties of pears are in-season right now, so the time is ripe to be enjoying this delicious fruit. Pears can be found at grocers throughout the month of December!

Above all, pear your food with the best company and music, and you will enjoy a rich and nutritious Pear Month!

Make sure to use the hashtag #NationalPearMonth on social media and follow USA Pears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all things pears!

You can also enter to win a box of fresh USA Pears HERE!

Kathy Smart, RNC, RNCP, HTC, PTS

Kathy is known as Canada’s Leading Nutrition Expert, Canadian Holistic Nutritionist of the Year 2016  is a popular speaker, health and fitness presenter, and the go-to media expert in all things health and wellness expert with over 20 years experience in both the health and fitness sectors.

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!

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.