We ❤️ Pears in February

Ellie Wilson MS, RDN Senior Nutritionist

usa pears blog.jpg Savvy seasonal eaters know a great secret – the luscious pear is at its peak during the winter months. Different varieties offer flavor adventures and fresh opportunities for a fast, functional snack. Packing six grams of fiber, Vitamin C, and 5% of the daily recommendation for potassium, pears are a nutrition powerhouse. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend about 2 servings of fruit daily – if you are adding more fruit to your fresh approach to healthier eating, one pear gets you halfway there! “Pears ripen from the inside out, and play well with other produce that does the same in a basket on your kitchen counter, like bananas and avocados. Check the neck for ripeness by pressing near the stem with your thumb – if it gives to pressure that means it is ripe and ready for a lot of sweet enjoyment! Pears are a recipe sweetheart during American Heart Month – and have the American Heart Association Heart Check to prove it! Slice pears and dip in dark chocolate for a valentine treat, chop and top steel cut oatmeal and cinnamon for a breakfast with (heart) benefits, or poach in cranberry juice and kiss with cinnamon mascarpone cheese and chopped walnuts to delight someone special. (https://www.pricechopper.com/recipes#/9201).  Overripe pears are great for sauces and smoothies – “pear” them up with avocados and spinach for a snack attack smoothie bonanza. Find fresh promotions in stores throughout February, and learn more ways to enjoy more pears at USAPears (http://usapears.org/), usapears-hhFebruary is American Heart Month, and we are inspired to enjoy some delicious recipes that showcase pears. Winter fruit intake is so important to heart health, especially fruit in season – pears fit the bill. Certified by the American Heart Association, pears add Vitamin C and fiber to your heart smart cart, and complements so many foods. A little history – pears have long been lauded for their sweetness – the description “gift of the Gods” was coined in Roman times. Pears were excellent travelers, and made their way around the world on traditional travel routes. In America, they landed on the Eastern shores and then made their way via the Lewis and Clark trails to the Pacific Northwest. Pear production in those states is over 550,000 bushels per year, and the pear is officially Oregon’s state fruit. Pears have had some excellent research show they are a very good choice for vascular health – pears, along with other white-fleshed produce, were shown to reduce risk of stroke in the Women’s Health study. Stroke 2011;42:00-00 The median intake of white-fleshed produce, including pears, apples, and vegetables, showed that each increase of 25 grams (over base intake of 118 grams per day) lowered risk of stroke by 9%. Powerful results! Enjoy some wonderful winter recipes that include pears – check these out, and find more at the USApears.org website. Remember to check the neck for slight give – that shows it is ripe for a delicious snack or recipe. http://usapears.org/recipe/hearty-oatmeal-with-pears/ http://usapears.org/recipe/tangy-pear-and-cabbage-slaw/