Perfect Pear

Why you should make this fibrous and nutrient-rich fruit a staple of your diet. BY CHEF VIKKI KRINSKY

“A PEAR A DAY keeps the doctor away” doesn’t quite have the same ring as “an apple a day,” but the saying is definitely true for pears.

Fresh pears are excellent sources of dietary fiber. There are six grams in a medium pear, in addition to 212 grams of potassium. Pears actually have more pectin, a water-soluble fiber that has been shown to lower cholesterol, than apples. Pears offer the same satisfying crunch as an apple yet deliver a juicy flavor bomb associated with peaches or plums.

To judge a pear’s ripeness, apply gentle pressure with your thumb to the “neck” or stem. You want to feel for a firm texture. Don’t peel the skin before eating, since that’ll decrease phenolic content, making it less of an antioxidant. Freezing fresh pears is not ideal, as the fibers will separate in the thawing process, leaving a mushy, grainy texture. However, freezing cooked pears in a tightly sealed container or an airtight plastic bag works great.

Cooking pears brings out a mellow sweetness and silky texture that’s undeniably delicious. In this quick and healthy recipe, I pair the pear with a mint-cashew cream that will blow you away.

SPICED PEAR AND CASHEW CREAM

SERVES 4

1 tsp coconut oil
½ tsp cinnamon Shake of nutmeg
2 large Bartlett pears, diced into bite-size pieces
1½ cups water
1 cup raw cashews
4 pitted dates (more if you want the dish to be sweeter)
1 tsp vanilla powder or extract
1 tbsp flax oil
1 tbsp chia seeds
4 mint sprigs

1. Heat coconut oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and pears and sauté for a few minutes until brown. Turn heat to medium-low and add ½ cup water.

2. Cook pears until al dente, then turn off heat and set aside.

3. Blend cashews, dates, vanilla, flax oil, and remaining 1 cup water in a small blender until smooth.

4. To serve, drop a large spoonful of cashew cream on each plate, top with pears, sprinkle with chia seeds, and garnish with a mint sprig.

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