Move over, apples! Pears are another fabulous fall fruit.
They not only taste terrific when perfectly ripe, but one medium pear (skin included) provides 22% of an adult’s daily value for fiber. Pears also have flavonoids, plant compounds that appear to help prevent type 2 diabetes. Results from a long-term study show that women who regularly ate a combination of pears and apples were less likely to get the disease.
Kalidas Shetty, PhD, professor of plant sciences at North Dakota State University, did early studies showing that a type of carbohydrate in pears may slow the rate at which the body digests sugars.
Shetty is a true pear fan, in part because they’re filling: "I often eat two a day," he says. "My trick is to eat one right before lunch, which prevents me from overeating."
Learn more ways to enjoy this pear-fect fruit.
This salad features succulent pears stuffed with tangy goat cheese, flavors that complement the peppery snap of watercress. Fill the pears a few hours in advance to give them a chance to chill before serving. The recipe calls for Bosc or red pears, but any type of firm, ripe pear will work.
Stuffed Pear and Watercress Salad
Makes 8 servings
2 oz goat cheese, softened
1 tbsp whole milk
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
8 dried apricots, finely chopped (about 2 tbsp)
zest and juice of 1 fresh lemon
4 firm, ripe Bosc or red pears
3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 cups watercress greens
¼ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1. In a small bowl, thoroughly combine goat cheese, milk, chives, apricots, and 1 tsp lemon zest. Cut pears in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and core using a melon baller or spoon. Rub pears with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Fill each pear half with cheese mixture, and carefully place pear halves back together again. Chill 2 hours, or until the cheese is firm.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add watercress and toss to coat leaves.
3. Divide greens among 8 plates. Place each pear half on top of greens. Garnish with walnuts to serve.
Per serving: 183 calories, 3 g protein, 16 g carbohydrate, 13 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 3 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 115 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 61%
Quite a Pear
Asian pears, a cousin of traditional pears, are sometimes called "apple pears" because of their crisp, apple-like texture. Here the pear pairs nicely with jicama, a refreshing root vegetable with a sweet, slightly nutty flavor. This dish makes a delectable supper for early fall.
Chicken Paillard With Asian Pear Salad
Makes 6 servings
6 (4-oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
dash sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup canola oil
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp olive oil
1 Asian pear, thinly sliced
½ cup matchstick-cut jicama
½ cup matchstick-cut carrots
3 scallions, thinly sliced
5 cups arugula or mixed salad greens
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1. Place chicken breasts between two sheets of waxed paper. Pound each piece to ¼- to ½-inch thickness with a meat mallet or rolling pin. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Spray a large nonstick pan with cooking spray. Heat canola oil to medium high. Working in batches, sauté chicken until golden brown
on both sides and cooked thoroughly, about 2-3 minutes per side. Cover and keep warm.
3. Make dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and olive oil.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine pear, jicama, carrots, scallions, and greens. Toss with dressing.
5. Place a piece of chicken on each plate. Top with salad, garnish with blue cheese, and serve.
Per serving: 312 calories, 30 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 18 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 75 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 302 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 51%
This dessert is a flavorful alternative to the same old apple crisp. In addition to bright fall flavors and a top-notch nutrient profile (including an impressive amount of fiber), it also smells irresistible as it bakes.
Harvest Pear-Cranberry Crisp
Makes 8 servings
8 medium-sized ripe Bartlett or Anjou pears, cored and chopped, with peel intact
¾ cup fresh cranberries
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp cornstarch
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar, divided
1½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup wheat germ
¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
salt to taste
¼ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tbsp canola oil
¼ cup chopped nuts
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine pears, cranberries, lemon juice, cornstarch, and ¼ cup brown sugar. Pour into a 9-by-13 baking dish coated with cooking spray.
3. Make topping: In a medium bowl, mix oats, wheat germ, flour, remaining brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Using a fork, combine these ingredients with the chilled butter pieces and oil until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Gently stir in nuts. Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit.
4. Bake until golden brown, 50-60 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla frozen yogurt (not included in nutrient analysis).
Per serving: 303 calories, 4 g protein, 52 g carbohydrate, 11 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 12 mg cholesterol, 7 g fiber, 31 g sugar, 66 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 30%
--Recipes by Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
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