Hy-Vee at Midday: Picking a Perfect Pear

By Christy Frese, Hy-Vee Dietitian

Pears – A "Pear-fect" seasonal selection!
The fact that pears are sweet and spicy with an aroma that's pure autumn is just one of the many reasons to incorporate more pears into your fall meals and snacks. Thanks to all the varieties now available at your local Hy-Vee, you are sure to find one with a taste and texture to suit your preferences. Indulge in these gems during their peak season and reap the benefits!
A bite of health benefits. Pears are a sweet source of fiber and phytochemicals. Each pear contains 4 to 5 grams of dietary fiber! Most of the fiber found in pears is insoluble and is largely present in the skin. The natural antioxidants found in pears, such as vitamin C, are important in the prevention of chronic diseases and may improve immune function.
Selecting the best pears. Picked just as they reach maturity and cooled to intensify sweetness, pears must ripen at room temperature for a few days. When the narrow stem end has a fragrant aroma and gives slightly under pressure, it is ready to eat.
Sneak a serving in at any time of day:
• Start off the day right by layering a pear onto your breakfast sandwich. Like apples, their sweet flavor pairs well with nut butter.
• Slice up and serve on top of your lunchtime salad.
• Bake into a fiber-filled afternoon treat like pear mini-muffins!
• Sauté and serve alongside pork roast at dinnertime.
• Bake into a pear-and-cranberry crisp for a seasonal dessert.
• Try this Pear Tart recipe:
Pear Tart
Serves: 18 (1 tart each)
Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Fall 2013.

All you need:
1 (17.3 oz) box puff pastry sheets, thawed in refrigerator
3 pears, unpeeled, seeded and thinly sliced
3/4 c. Hy-Vee apricot preserves
1 Hy-Vee large egg, whisked
Powdered sugar, optional

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut each puff pastry sheet into 9 squares and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Top with pear slices. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat apricot preserves for 30 seconds, or until warmed and spreadable. Spread apricot preserves over pear slices. Brush edges of pastry with whisked egg.
3. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 170, Protein: 2g, Carbohydrate: 23g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 140mg, Dietary Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 9g, Fat: 8g, Trans fats: 0g.

Christy Frese represents Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community. Christy is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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