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!

Cast-Iron Skillet Roasted Pears with Hearty Whole-Grain Panzanella (Vegan)

A good cast-iron pan works wonders on pears. When just-ripe Anjous are cut in half and seared in a hot skillet then placed in the oven, it brings out a rich and roasty caramelized flavor that renders the pears entrée worthy. They take on depth of flavor and luscious texture to make them a deliciously satisfying substitute for meat, whether you practice a vegetarian or vegan diet, or are just looking to reduce the amount of meat you consume. Here the roasted pears are offered with a warm, whole-grain panzanella, that ubiquitous Italian bread salad usually involving fruity tomatoes and basil in the height of summer. Fruity roasted pears are a perfect alternative at the end of winter. Packed with hearty greens and chicories, olives, and a maple-scallion dressing, this recipe makes for a nutritious one-dish meal.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

6 ounces seedy whole-grain artisan bread, torn into bite-size pieces (about 4 packed cups)

4 to 6 USA Red Anjou pears

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and thinly sliced on a bias

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

4 packed cups torn radicchio leaves, soaked in cold water for 20 minutes and drained

2 packed cups baby kale or arugula leaves

3/4 cup green olives, smashed, pitted and very coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped toasted almonds

Directions:

Spread the torn bread on a large rimmed baking sheet and broil in the oven until lightly charred all over but still a little soft inside, turning once, 3 to 5 minutes (be careful not to let them burn!). Remove the croutons from the oven and set aside.

Switch the oven to preheat to 475˚F. Halve and core the pears and sprinkle the cut sides lightly with salt and pepper.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. When wisps of smoke appear, add the pears to the skillet in a single layer with cut sides down. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the pears are deeply browned and caramelized on the cut sides and very tender inside when pierced with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer the roasted pears to a platter and loosely tent with foil. Place the pan of hot pear drippings over medium heat and immediately whisk in 1 more tablespoon of the oil, the scallions, and garlic and cook briefly, until just softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and whisk in the vinegar, maple syrup, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the croutons, radicchio, kale or arugula, and olives. Pour in the warm dressing and toss very thoroughly. If needed, drizzle in a little more olive oil so that all ingredients are nicely coated. Serve the pears over the warm salad, garnished with plenty of the toasted almonds.

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

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

Do’s and Don’ts of a Heart-Healthy Diet

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States? In response, the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association recently released stricter high blood pressure (hypertension) guidelines, narrowing the diagnosis from ³140/90 mmHg to ³120/80 mmHg. These numbers represent the amount of pressure exerted against the blood vessel walls when the heart contracts and relaxes. Over time this elevated pressure damages the heart, blood vessels, and increases risk for heart attack and stroke. The stricter guideline means more people will be diagnosed with hypertension, but instead of a push for pharmacologic remedies, the American Heart Association recommends improving diet for long-term heart health. February is American Heart Month, the national campaign to tackle heart disease. Is there a better time to love your heart?

A heart-healthy diet is attainable for everyone, with more DOs than do NOTs. For instance…

-Do eat more fruits and vegetables and whole grains, such as oatmeal or whole wheat bread.

-Do replace solid fats with unsaturated liquid fats or unsalted nuts and seeds.

-Do eat more fish and plant-based proteins.

-Try not to eat excessively salty or processed foods. This may mean eating fewer meals and snacks on the go.

For me, eating hearthealthy means running out the door with portable food in hand to prevent vending machine and fast food temptations. Preparing larger amounts and portioning them into portable containers for one-pot meals is my secret! Try

– Sprinkling sliced pears, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, and gorgonzola atop a bed of lettuce or quinoa; drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.

– Mixing grilled veggies, chicken, brown rice, and a splash of seasoning or lite soy sauce.

– Tossing together oats, diced pears, dried cranberries, a dash of cinnamon or brown sugar (if you like), and low-fat milk. Refrigerate overnight for refreshing overnight oats, pop in the microwave for a comforting breakfast or lunch, or check out this One Pot oatmeal recipe!

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

Chocolate Pear Hand Pies

I had heard rumblings about the glory of pairing pears and chocolate in pie. I mean, they’re both two delicious things, so how could it not be amazing?

I also loved how portable these hand pies are. They’re so easy to just hold in your hand and completely devour in five seconds while watching Netflix with bae (or by yourself…any situation really).

Some ingredient notes: I used a combination of Bartlett and Bosc pears. For chocolate, I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, but if you have some REALLY good chocolate laying around (like some Valrhona discs…) you should totally go for it.

TREAT YO-SELF!

Ingredients:

Crust (crust recipe adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup butter (straight from the fridge, cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I use cider vinegar, mix it in the water)

Filling 

  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 4 cups peeled, cored and diced Bartlett or Bosc pears (this should be a relatively fine dice, see pictures below)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of allspice
  • Pinch of cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

To make the crust, mix together flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, “cut” in the butter. This means you’re almost mashing the butter into the flour with the blender, ensuring all butter is covered in flour until the butter pieces are about the size of peas or a bit bigger.

Then, splash in a bit of your water mixture (2-3 tablespoons) and mix it around with your hand. Continue to add a little at a time and mix and squish with your hand until a large dough ball forms. If you need to get a bit more binding, add a bit of water to your fingers to help it along. Don’t feel compelled to use all the water, mix it in until just combined and the dough is holding together. Cut the dough ball into two halves and flatten into disks. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Meanwhile, make chocolate ganache. In the microwave or on a stovetop, bring cream to an almost boil and pour over chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Let sit for a minute, then whisk together until smooth. Set aside.

Remove dough disks from fridge and let sit for 5-10 minutes so the dough doesn’t crack. Roll out each disk on a floured surface circle about 12-13 inches in diameter. Use a heart cookie cutter to cut out dough hearts and refrigerate on a parchment-lined baking sheet while making the filling.

In a large bowl, toss together diced pears, lemon juice and granulated sugar with your hands and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes. In another bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, spices and vanilla. Drain excess moisture from pear mixture and sprinkle sugar mixture on top. Toss with your hands until pears are evenly coated.

To assemble the hand pies, take one heart and spread a thin layer of ganache onto the middle of the dough. Spoon about 1 tbsp of filling on top of the ganache, like below.

Place a second dough heart on top of the pear layer, sealing the edges of the dough together with the tines of a fork.

Repeat with remaining dough hearts and refrigerate assembled pies on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10 minutes.

Brush the tops of the hand pies with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

Recipe and photography by Ellie Hannaford of Pie Girl Bakes.

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

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Instant Pot Pear Oatmeal Jars

The Instant Pot, that magical cooking appliance that allows you to do everything from sautéing to pressure-cooking, is all the rage right now. I put it to use in the morning to cook steel cut oats in no time. What’s even better is that the oats can be combined with any variety of ripe USA Pears and cooked right in individual mason jars for the family on the go. After cooking, the jars are topped with a variety of toppings to jazz up this heart-healthy breakfast.

Makes 4 one-pint jars

Ingredients:

2 cups diced USA Pears

1 cup steel cut oats

1/4 cup chopped dried fruit, such as cranberries, cherries, dates, or raisins

6 tablespoons honey

8 teaspoons chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Sea salt

About 3 cups water

Topping Ideas:

Coconut Milk Yogurt or Greek Yogurt

Dried fruit

Toasted Coconut Flakes

Cacao Nibs

Directions:

In each of 4 pint-size mason jars, combine 1/2 cup of the pears, 1/4 cup of the oats, 1 tablespoon of the dried fruit, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the honey, 2 teaspoons of the chia seeds, 1/8 teaspoon each of the cardamom and ground ginger, and a pinch of salt. Pour about 3/4 cup water into each jar, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace. Screw on the tops and shake the jars vigorously to mix everything together. Loosen the lids slightly to allow steam to release as they cook.

Prepare the Instant Pot by placing a wire rack in the bottom and pouring in 1 cup of water. Place the jars on the rack and secure the top of the pot. Select high pressure and set the timer for 20 minutes.

When done cooking, allow the pressure to naturally release for at least 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure. (Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use.) Open the pressure cooker and carefully remove the hot jars. Allow them to rest until the contents stop bubbling. Remove the lids using hot pads, being careful for steam. Stir each jar, then top as desired with the optional toppings. The oats can be served immediately or the lids can be put back on to serve them later.

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

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

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

I’ve Fallen Off The Wagon. Now What?

The holidays are behind us and grey months are ahead of us, which makes today a good day to consider the rest of 2018. Many of us make health-related New Year’s resolutions, and only 9.2% of people feel they successfully meet these goals. The problem may be that our goals were too drastic or too restrictive. We are all guilty of this type: “I’m going to run five miles every day” or “I’m only eating 1000 calories a day!” Unfortunately, drastic pledges that limit enjoying our lives generally don’t work. Plus, shouldn’t we enjoy life? YES! So, what can you do?

Step 1: Keep it simple. Counting calories or minutes on the treadmill may not be the best way to tackle your goals. If you currently don’t exercise, try adding one or two short walks during the day – even just ten minutes adds up to 70 minutes each week! If eating out is your doom, split a meal, try an appetizer instead of an entrée, or swap a side of fruit for a sugary dessert. Small changes really do make for long-term changes.

Step 2: Start fresh. Instead of drastically cutting calories, swap fresh fruit and a glass of water for a sugary/salty snack or side dish. Or maybe you don’t love veggies or you’ve grown tired of your go-to items – try something new! I get in ruts like everyone else, but a stroll through the produce section usually produces fresh ideas. It’s also easy to start the day fresh, I add sliced pears to cereal, oatmeal and yogurt, or diced veggies and salsa to eggs.

January 1 is no more magical than February 1 (or today, for that matter!). Start fresh and see how you feel in a few days! For more ideas, check out what the USDA suggests for small changes that lead to lasting results.

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Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

Keep Love In The Air With Chocolate and Pears

Love is in the air and few things are as enticing as the passionate relationship between chocolate and pears. These two foods may come from opposite worlds but when they meet, the chemistry is unmistakable and downright charming. The possibilities are truly endless with these two simple ingredients, and you don’t need to be a gourmet chef to pull off something delicious and creative. We can’t prove it, but we are pretty sure chocolate and pears will please pretty much anyone. As you think of the perfect way to please your Valentine, consider savoring the joyous relationship that is chocolate and pears with these five recipes.

1. Dark Chocolate Dipped Pears

Move over strawberries— there’s another fruit that tastes amazing when dipped in chocolate! Rich dark chocolate pairs perfectly with Red Anjou pears, which just so happen to be heart-check certified by the American Heart Association. Decorate your dipped pears with a variety of creative options for sprinkling, like nuts, coconut flakes, and even vivid red chile powder for a kick.

2. Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce with Walnuts

Simple to make and yet oh so elegant Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce with Walnuts are the pear-fect finishing touch to any dinner party.

3. Chocolate Pear Delight

This decadent dessert for two is disarmingly simple to prepare. Double it for dinner parties and turn dessert into a chocolate celebration!

4. Caramelized Pear and Chocolate Pizza

Pizza for dessert? Hey, it’s a pie, right? This one is layered with sweet caramelized pears and rich, dark chocolate. It’s a happy ending for any meal.

5. Hot Fudge Pear Sundae

This pretty sundae gets seasonal flavor from the addition of fresh pears. Add a different flavor of ice cream (peanut butter, rocky road, strawberry) to make it your own!

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

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

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!

Pear, Green Tea, and Honey Granita

As we enter the depths of winter, after the holiday rush has slowed to steady daily routines, we take pleasure in things with a simpler, more nourishing feel. Enter granita, the flavor-rich frozen treat that is Italy’s answer to French sorbet or Hawaiian shave ice.

Perhaps it’s most often served as a refreshing end to a rich meal, but that’s not the end of its capabilities. After all, this recipe is simply a mixture of lusciously ripe fresh pears sweetened with a touch of honey, accentuated by a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt, and enhanced with the addition of matcha powder for green tea flavor and color, which also lends a smooth texture to the fluffy ice. Yes, it’s delicious served all on its own to finish dinner, but consider the options. Freshly shucked oysters benefit from a dollop to bring out the sweet and briny flavors. It’s also a traditional topping for a scoop of vanilla ice cream, with the two frozen textures—one cream, one crunchy—playing yin and yang to one another. Perhaps my favorite way to eat granita is with a fresh topping of finely chopped pears, cucumber, and mint, mixed with lime juice and pomegranate seeds—a refreshing and delicious dessert indeed, yet not overly indulgent.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

2 ripe USA Bartlett, Green Anjou, or Comice pears

2 tablespoons honey

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

1 1/2 teaspoons matcha green tea powder

Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Peel, core, and coarsely chop the pears and put them in a blender. Add the honey, lemon juice, matcha powder, and salt. Blend on high until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish, such as a cake pan or bread loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place the pan in the freezer until the mixture is frozen solid, at least 2 and up to 4 hours.

Using a fork, scrape the frozen granita into fluffy crystals. Spoon into small bowls, or serve as desired.

Recipe, Photos and Styling: Andrea Slonecker (@andreaslonecker)

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

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