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.