• 21Nov

    Wondering what to do with pears this season?   If you are trying to eat seasonally, pears are a great choice now!

    Growing up in Ohio, I never ate fresh pears.  They were always canned, gritty and pretty flavorless.  I never understood why anyone would like them.  Canned pears rank about as low as canned asparagus in my book.  If you’ve ever had canned asparagus, you know what I mean.

    Then I was introduced to fresh pears…

    As is often the situation, a fresh, seasonal pear is entirely different from a pear half in a can.  If you have never tried one, give it a shot now while they are in season.  Here’s what to try:

    Anjou Pears are the second-most recognizable pear in the US.  This egg-shaped pear is the most plentiful variety, which means you’ll find Anjou pears in the US during most of the year.  There are two varieties – red and green.

    Bartlett Pears are the most common variety in the US.  Bartletts can be yellow or red and have a true pear shape – wide at the bottom, narrow at the top.

    Bosc Pears have a brown skin and are considered a more elegant pear.  They are more firm and dense than other pears and despite what you may think, their brown skin is edible!

    No matter which pear variety you enjoy most, make sure they are ripe for the best flavor and texture!

    According to the Pear Bureau Northwest, you can use the Check the Neck for Ripeness™ daily by gently pressing your thumb near the stem end of the pear. When it gives slightly, the pear is ripe.

    Why “Check the Neck?”  Pears ripen from the inside out and the neck is the narrowest part of the pear.  If you wait until the bottom half becomes soft, the pear will be over-ripe.  When that happens, you won’t want to eat the pear raw, but it could make a great addition to a fruit smoothie or other recipe.

    Ashley and I made poached pears for our recent cooking demo at the Cancer Support Community Atlanta.  Check out her recipe below for a healthy dessert!

    1 vanilla bean

    6 firm pears such as Bosc or Barlett

    1.5 cups of low fat vanilla yogurt

    1/2 cup chopped walnuts

    6 cups water

    3 cups sugar

    2 cinnamon sticks

    Zest of 1 lemon

    Combine the water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Split vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and add both the seeds and the pod to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Peel the pears. Reduce the poaching liquid to a simmer and add the pears. Cook until      tender (the tip of a knife will go through the flesh of a pear with just a little resistance), about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cool the pears in the poaching liquid, until completely cooled, about 45 minutes. Serve the pears with some vanilla yogurt topped with walnuts and a little pear-poaching liquid.

  • 11Nov

    Last week my office mates and I were debating the flu shot as one of my coworkers was contemplating whether or not to get vaccinated.  Having spent the last nine years of my career working with cancer patients (we got the flu shot to protect them) I was 100% supportive of the flu shot.  My other colleague was anti-flu shot.  Who knew the flu shot could be such a hot topic?

    No matter how you feel about vaccines or if you chose to get the flu shot or not, a healthy diet can play a role in keeping your immune system strong.  Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that eating healthy throughout the winter will prevent the flu, but what you put into your body can affect your body’s ability to fight infections of all kinds – not just the flu!

    Food’s effect on the immune system does not happen overnight – it will take a few weeks if not months for the positive effects to happen.  However, it’s never too late to give it a shot (no pun intended!).

    Not sure where to start?  Registered Dietitian Tonya Reinhard,  author of Superfoods and Joel Fuhrman, MD of Super Immunity recommend the following foods:

    • Eat more omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, tuna and trout are excellent sources.  If you aren’t a fan of fish, add walnuts for plant-based omega-3′s!
    • Get stinky. Adding a daily dose of garlic, onions, scallions and shallots.
    • Make room for mushrooms. Add to salads, pizza or saute and serve with chicken or a lean cut of beef.
    • Choose GOOD bacteria to fight the BAD.  Yogurt has live cultures called probiotics – good bacteria that help protect our gut from the bad guys.  Greek yogurt is a great choice, as it typically has less sugar and more protein than traditional yogurts.
    • Eat the incredible, edible egg. Add egg whites to salads or cook up eggs for breakfast.
    • Beans, beans the magical fruit. Eat a variety to prevent boredom.  Soups are a great way to load up on beans during the fall and winter seasons, and if you are on a budget,  dried beans won’t break the bank.  If you don’t have time to soak dried beans, try lentils!
    • Build a salad. Dark leafy greens are full of carotenoids (antioxidants).  Include a salad once a day!
    • Boost your immunity with berries. Unfortunately, strawberries and raspberries (my favorites) are out of season; however, cranberries are a fall berry to embrace!  Try a homemade cranberry sauce over chicken or turkey.

    Do you have a strategy to help fight off the flu this season?  Please share!