Let’s please talk about pears. While everyone else is buzzing about apples and oranges, pears are often cast aside as the hard fruit in the produce section.

And that’s too bad, for a few reasons:

• Pears are loaded with fiber – more so than apples – which is something Americans don’t get enough of. A medium-sized pear contains 5.5 grams of fiber, while larger ones provide around 7 grams. For reference, women should try to get at least 25 grams of fiber; men should aim for at least 38.

• All pears contain flavonoids, which may help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. And red pears contain an additional compound called anthocyanin, which promotes heart health and anti-aging.

• Pears are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C that can be beneficial for the immune system.

• Pears are a good way to get more potassium, which can have a significant impact on heart health.

• One medium pear provides 12 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C.

• Pears are about 84 percent water. Coupled with the high amount of fiber they contain, this helps keep your digestive system healthy.

• Few fruits are juicier and sweeter than a fully ripened pear. Use them in baked goods, on oatmeal or yogurt, or to make sauces and salads. They’re particularly nice when paired with a strong-flavored cheese and drizzled with honey.

Tip: If pears are hard when you purchase them, store them in a paper bag at room temperature. The bag traps ethylene gas – which is naturally produced by pears—and speeds up the ripening process. Once pears are ripe, store them in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process.

Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location. The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at tshaffer@hy-vee.com.

 

Baked Pears with Gingersnap Crumbs

Serves 4

Ingredients

¼ cup honey

¼ cup lemon juice, (about 2 lemons)

½ teaspoon ground ginger

4 pears, peeled, halved and cored

4 gingersnaps, crushed

Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk together honey, lemon juice and ginger in a small bowl.

Place pears, cut-side up, in a shallow 1-quart baking dish. Pour the honey syrup over the pears and sprinkle with gingersnaps. Bake for 10 minutes, baste with the syrup, then continue baking until the pears are tender when pierced with a skewer and the syrup has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Serve warm, or at room temperature, with the sauce spooned over the pears.