10 Pear Cocktails to Brighten Your Holiday Spirit

Hailed as a “gift of the gods” by the Greek poet Homer in his epic The Odyssey, the venerable pear has graced civilizations for more than four thousand years. For a chunk of that time, crafty folks have been incorporating the fruit into their alcoholic beverages. Like other fruits, pears are a delicious and creative ingredient, and it’s no surprise that mixologists jump at the chance to include them in their libations. Even though there are plenty of reasons to eat pears for their nutritious value, there are also reasons incorporate pears into more fun parts of the menu.

Whether muddled, juiced, mixed, pureed, shaken or stirred, pears present countless possibilities as a cocktail ingredient. Because it’s the holiday season as well as pear season – not to mention National Pear Month – we figure there’s no better time to highlight some of our favorite pear cocktail recipes. As we like to say…when life gives you pears, make cocktails!

A Pear of Cloves

Warming spices like clove pair beautifully with the harvest-fresh flavor of pears. The drink’s pale green hue comes from the bits of green skin left behind after muddling the pears, making it very fresh and fun.

Millionaire Pear

This delicious drink looks great in a martini glass, champagne flute or cocktail glass, especially with the sparkle of the sugared rim. The vodka float and black pepper make for a subtle, elegant appearance but the addition of a few pear batons as a garnish would not detract from its simplicity. A very thin pear slice (cut on a mandolin) can also be floated on top.

Pear Dauphine

This delicate cocktail tantalizes the taste buds with a balance of sweetness and substance. The elderflower liqueur brings out the floral essence in the flavor of the fresh pear.

Kietsu: Sake Pear Margarita

Cultivated palates around the world thirst or flavor combinations that inspire. In this fresh pear cocktail, crisp, dry sake and smooth silver tequila unite for an intriguing fusion of flavors and cultures.

The Oregon Anjou

Fresh Green Anjou pears are put on the pedestal they belong in this flavorful libation. Handcrafted Pinot Gris syrup adds another layer of complexity that balances the drink with a subtly dry finish.

The Pearhattan

This cocktail’s pretty ruby red color is unexpected, as are the flavored pear-lemon ice Pearhattan cubes which imbue the cocktail with additional flavor as they melt.

Oh Pear

A variation on the classic Rusty Nail, the silky smooth pear purée makes this cocktail a joy to drink either up or on the rocks. Leave the skin on the pear for a beautifully colored pear purée.

Pear Cardamom Flip

Velvet smooth and practically singing with pear flavor, this charming cocktail offers spicy notes of cardamom, mint and ginger and is perfect for any time of day. It would be apropos as a brunch cocktail.

Dragon Well

Fresh pear, green tea, and lavender flavors combine in this verdant cocktail that delights the senses. Garnish with pomegranate seeds to give this gorgeous green drink an added pop of color.

Pear Tea Cobbler

The Cobbler is an old form of mixed drink that consists of a base spirit and fresh fruit. Here it’s been updated with the delightful flavor of gin combined with sweet USA Pears to experience an entirely new flavor sensation.

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

Pear Waldorf Salad

During those weeks between the holidays at this time of year, a crunchy, fresh salad with a wintery undertone is just what we crave. The Waldorf Salad may be traditionally made with apples, but we love it with the soft, seductive sweetness of ripe pears. Instead of gloppy mayonnaise, we toss crisp celery and fennel, toasted walnuts, grapes, and those succulent pears with Greek yogurt for a tangy take. Fresh herbs and sunflower seeds add texture and a modern feel. Serve the salad spooned into butter lettuce or radicchio leaves, or scoop it up with warm pita bread for a light and simple lunch.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

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

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, reserving fronds, cored, and sliced

3 ribs celery with leaves, stalks sliced and leaves coarsely chopped

1 cup halved red grapes

3/4 cup walnut halves and pieces, toasted

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1/2 cup Greek Yogurt

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons sunflower seeds

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the pears, fennel, celery slices and leaves, grapes, walnuts, and parsley leaves. Add the yogurt, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Transfer the salad to a serving bowl, garnish with the reserved fennel fronds and the sunflower seeds, and serve.

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

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!

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.

Hasselback Baked Pear Oatmeal Bowl

This warming bowl of oats is the perfect way to start a chilly morning! Naturally sweetened with banana, this breakfast is topped with a caramelized, soft, hasselback baked pear. Prep the pears the night before, and you can throw this bowl together in 5 minutes!

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry oatmeal (old fashioned or quick)
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1 USA Bosc pear
  • Coconut oil
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice or Apple Pie Spice
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Creamy almond butter (other nut butter is fine)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Slice pear in half and remove seeds. Cut side down, make narrow slits into each half, being careful not to slice all the way through.
  • Grease a small cast iron skillet or baking dish with coconut oil. Place pears cut side down in skillet.
  • Sprinkle with a little more coconut oil and Pumpkin Pie Spice. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour until soft and tender.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the oats with water or milk, according to package instructions.
  • Mash banana in a bowl, and add to cooking oats with chia seeds and 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice.
  • Stir well until oatmeal is cooked to desired consistency.
  • Divide oatmeal evenly into two bowls. Top each bowl with ½ of the baked pear, a scoop of almond butter, and other toppings of choice. Enjoy immediately!

If preparing the pear the night before, microwave for 30 seconds – 1 minute to reheat.

Recipe development and photography by Alexandra Aldeborgh (@daisybeet).

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!

Snack Right to Stay Healthy Through the Holidays

Office candy dishes, gifts of baked goods, parties, dinners, and extra-packed to-do lists all shuffle in with the holiday season. And increased stress levels can also follow suit. While we can’t do your holiday shopping for you, we can offer up a helpful tool for keeping your energy level stable, your mood happier, and your weight steadier during the holiday season… snacks. But not just any old snacks will do, follow these four tips to ensure your snacks are energy-boosting powerhouses.

Use the Rule of 2: The combination of protein, high fiber/less processed carbohydrates, and fat is one that keeps blood sugar and energy levels stable for hours. At mealtime, make sure you have this triple threat (+ veggies!) on your plate. At snack time, aim for at least 2 of the 3…what we call the “rule of 2.” Examples: Sliced pear (carbs) with almond butter (fat); string cheese (protein) with hummus (fat); small latte (protein from milk) with walnuts (fat).
Recipe idea: Pear Slices With Goat Cheese, Pistachios, And Pink Peppercorns

Sip with Snacks: The winter air is dry. When you combine that with a hectic schedule with too few sips of water, dehydration often comes knocking. To ensure water intake throughout the day, hydrate along with snacks. A cup of herbal tea or sparkling water with lemon not only helps to hydrate but also makes your snack feel more satisfying by naturally slowing you down while you eat (because you’re also sipping). Including fruits and/or veggies in snacks also helps to hydrate, since these foods naturally contain lots of water.
Recipe idea: Pear And Pineapple Green Smoothie

Pear and Pineapple Green Smoothie smSQ

Practice Mindfulness: A busier-than-usual schedule mixed with more-abundant-than-usual treats lying around can lead to all-day noshing without really realizing or enjoying it. Mindfulness — having an internal conversation with yourself before eating to ask yourself if you’re actually hungry, what you’re really hungry for, etc. — is a vital component to ensuring that you don’t eat more than you need and also make choices that make you feel good. Before eating, ask yourself “Will this make me feel good now? In two hours? Tomorrow?” If you can answer yes to all three, and you’re genuinely hungry, then have enough to satisfy that hunger. If your answer is no, take a walk, sip some tea, catch up with a co-worker, or any other non-food related 5-minute activity.
Recipe idea: Grilled Chicken, Pear, and Avocado Toasts

Plan Ahead: Preparation is key during the holidays. Have a holiday party coming up? Think about your schedule, consider what time the party starts, what you want to eat there, and whether you need a snack beforehand. If you’re shopping on the weekend, plan where you’ll have lunch, how you’ll stay hydrated, and whether you need a snack or two in your bag (answer: you usually do.) The bottomline is that if you don’t plan out food choices ahead of time, you leave it up to chance and that doesn’t always bode well during the busy, sweet-filled holidays. But a little planning goes a long way to making you feel better all season long!
Recipe idea: Pear PB And J Bouquet

PBJ Bouquet 1

Brussels Sprout Hash with Pears and Crispy Bacon

Brussels Sprouts-043

Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite winter vegetables, and it won’t be long until they disappear from produce shelves everywhere until next fall. Get your fill of Brussels while you can by roasting them into a delicious hash dressed up with crispy bacon and sweet pears. This easy recipe makes for a satisfying side dish. Simply cook the bacon lightly to render out the fat before tossing with the Brussels sprouts, then season and roast. At the last minute, add the beautiful pear chunks and the fresh thyme and warm through. Serve this dish with my Braised Pork with Pears and Sherry Vinegar for the perfect pear-inspired winter dinner.

Ingredients
5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ripe, colorful USA Pears, such as Comice or Red Anjou, large dice
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only, roughly chopped

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the bacon pieces in a saute pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until most of the fat has been rendered out and the bacon is just barely starting to get crispy in a few places (it will finish cooking in the oven). Place the halved Brussels sprouts onto a sheet pan and pour over the bacon and all of the fat from the pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Toss the mixture together to thoroughly coat all of the sprouts with seasoning and transfer to the hot oven.

Bake the hash for 22-24 minutes, stirring once during cooking. At this point, the bacon should be nicely crisp and the sprouts should be softened. Add the diced pears and the thyme leaves and toss together gently. Return the hash to the oven for 4 to 5 minutes just to warm the pears through. Serve immediately.

prep time: 15 minutes plus 30 minutes in the oven
yield: 4 servings

Little Green Pouch: Pear and Kid Approved!

I love pears for lots of reasons, but I’m especially fond of their widespread appeal. It’s fun to be able to strike up a conversation with almost anyone about pears—my grandpa, a kindergartner, the cashier at my grocery store. They’re just so lovable!

Pears are especially kid-friendly. They’re a hypoallergenic food, and with their soft texture, they’re easily pureed into sauce, smoothies, and soups. I recently received a complimentary pack of Little Green Pouches, a reusable food pouch like those you’ve seen popping up at Starbucks and grocery stores near you. This ingenious little food pouch is the perfect vehicle for pureed pears. I sent the pack to my sister, Aubrey, who offered to test the Little Green Pouch with her sidekick and babysitting charge Ellie.

Ellie, 2, was an instant fan of the combo. Here’s Aubrey’s report:

Aubrey: “Ellie, what do you think of the green pouch? Do you like it?”
Ellie: “Yeah! It’s really cool, Aubrey!”
I asked Ellie how she liked the pear yogurt mixture.
Ellie: “It tastes like ice cream and vanilla and pears!”

I went to pour more mixture into the green pouch over the sink and she frantically yelled at me to not pour it down the sink and to save it in the fridge for later.

She was very satisfied with the pouch and pears!

Recipe:

½-1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 pear

Pear and quarter the pear and boil in water until soft.
Mash it into the yogurt and serve!

Check out the Little Green Pouch website for pouch-friendly recipes and more information.