This month’s featured ingredient: pears

Sweet & Spicy Pears

Pears are, not surprisingly, a perfect fall food ~ especially when cooked with warming spices.
10 cups water
1 cup coconut sugar *
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
8 slices of fresh ginger, slightly crushed
6 hard Bosc pears
2 lemons

  1. Combine the water, coconut sugar, cinnamon sticks, and fresh ginger in a large pot. Bring to a low boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes.
  2. Peel the pears using a vegetable peeler. Rub the outside of the pears with lemons to prevent them from turning brown.
  3. Squeeze the remaining juice from the lemons and add to the simmering liquid.
  4. Add the pears to the liquid and bring everything to a low boil. Once boiling reduce heat to simmer and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove the pears and place in a shallow bowl.
  5. Remove two to three cups of the simmer liquid, straining out the spices, and place in a smaller saucepan. Allow to heat at a low boil for about 30 minutes, reducing the liquid to a syrup.
  6. Serve the pears on individual plates with a side scoop of the Cashew Cardamom Cream and a drizzle of the syrup.

* Low glycemic coconut sugar can be obtained locally from Our Community Pantry, People’s Co-Op or New Seasons, or on-line at Coconut Secrets.
This recipe is adapted from Nina Simonds, A Spoonful of Ginger.

Cardamom Cashew Cream

3/4 cup cashews soaked 2-4 hours
1/4 cup maple syrup, honey or preferred sweetener (start small and add until desired sweetness is obtained, you can also use 4-6 drops of liquid stevia)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 vanilla bean seeded or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
water to blend (start with ¼ cup)
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. If not using a high speed blender, blend then scrape down ingredients, then blend again. Repeat. A good food processor can also be used, aiming to get the cream as smooth as possible.
This recipe is from my TrulyFood partner Andrea Livingston of Phytofoods.

Pears are native to the Middle East, where I picked them for a summer in college. I got so tired of pears ~ pear juice, pear jam, pear pie ~ that I refused to eat pears for years after. Now I live in another pear mecca, Oregon (one of the three states, along with California and Washington, where 95% of the country’s pears are grown). The pear seems to be following me, or me the pear. One way or another, I suspect there’s something good my body needs from pears and the climates that produce them. Take a look! This may be true for you too.

The Health Benefits of pears include:

Pears stimulate energy in the lungs and stomach which helps with chronic coughs and constipation.
Pears are a great source of water-soluble fiber ~ especially pectin. Pears have more pectin than apples! The pectin makes them a good food for helping to balance cholesterol levels and support intestinal health.
Pears provide some good vitamins and minerals including:

  • vitamin C
  • copper
    (these first 2 make pears a good antioxidant-rich food to include in your free radical fighting diet)
  • vitamin B2
  • vitamin K
  • vitamin E
  • potassium (better than a banana because of the higher fiber and lower sugar content!)

Pears are a hypoallergenic fruit, well tolerated by most individuals. For this reason, and the highlights mentioned above, cooked and blended or mashed pears are a good first fruit for babies.
And pears are a good remedy for clearing excess “heat”:
From the perspective of the five elements, Autumn is the time to clear heat from the body. Too much heat can present itself as dry and itchy skin and lips, scratchy throat or chronic coughing, acne and constipation. Pears work well as a moistening food to temper the season’s dryness.

Getting More Pears in Your Diet:

This seems easy enough if you like pears! But with what to pair the pear. . .

  • Combine pears with seasonal greens, leeks, and nuts for a delicious salad or saute.
  • Add chopped fresh or poached pears to cooked morning grains, and pair with warming spices like ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and/or clove.
  • Replace apples with pears in any sauce, pie or bread recipes.
  • Pears are delightful when married with any combination of raw cheeses.
  • Add to fall smoothies with ginger.
  • Pears are a great accompaniment to flavors such as vanilla and honey, and they are even delicious with chocolate! Pear fondu anyone?

How to Buy a Pear:

Pears are best when ripened after harvesting. Therefore it’s preferable to buy your pears on the harder, unripe side. Let them ripen at home, in a cool dark place in your kitchen, with plenty of air for circulation. Look for pears with no cuts or breaks. Be sure to store them in an open area, not in a plastic bag or the refrigerator, as it’s the air that’s going to allow them to ripen to their fullest and most delicious potential.

Pear Varieties:

There are so many different kinds of pears. It’s challenging to know which ones to use for different purposes. Click here for a guide to some of our most common pears.


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