P is for pears

pearGuest blog by Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

I think pears are often overlooked in favour of apples. The two fruits are closely related, both being members of the rose family, but apples tend to keep better. They are both high in phytonutrients, soluble fibre and vitamin C.

Local pears are around in January and a good substitute for berries, if you don’t want to increase air miles and our carbon footprint by spending on foreign imports. Like berries, pears have a low glycemic index.

They are also particularly rich in flavonoids.A new report from the long-running Nurses’ Health Study showed that consuming pears, and other flavonoid-containing fruit and vegetables, helps lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. I also found another study, described in SuperFoods Health Style by Steven Pratt and Kathy Matthews which states that eating three pears, or three apples, a day helped women lose weight!

Don’t peel your pears, because most of the fibre and phytonutrients are concentrated in the skin. Two popular pear varieties are Williams (yellow, juicy and classic ‘pear’ shape) and Conference (green, hard and a longer shape). Try to eat as wide a range of varieties as possible (same goes for apples) because each has a slightly different phytonutrient profile, so that way you get the widest possible range of these powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound.

PEAR GREEN JUICE

Pears add a touch of sweetness to those classic green juice ingredients: celery, cucumber and spinach.
[serves 2 or halve quantities and make two days running for one]

4 pears
Head of celery
2 small cucumbers
Bag, or two bunches, of spinach
2 lemons
2 inches peeled ginger
Chop and juice all ingredients and serve immediately.

PEAR AND STILTON SALAD

A lovely way of using up that Christmas Stilton! [serves two]
Packet or bunch watercress
Two pears, thinly sliced
100g crumbled Stilton or other blue cheese (going back to my Lancashire roots, I like Blacksticks Blue or Garstang Blue with this)
75g walnuts
Mix all ingredients, adding the pear last. Dress simply with lemon juice. This can be made into a more substantial meal by adding sliced avocado and serving with some interesting bread.

 

PEAR AND GRAPE FAST

 

Some of you may be embarking on January detox campaigns. Here’s a fast I tried out many years ago when I first got interested in food and nutrition.

Pears – this is a good opportunity to try out different varieties because, as with all fasts, this does get boring and it’s a way of introducing a bit of interest.

You need:

  • Big bunch black grapes
  • Big bunch of white grapes.

Start off in the morning with a pear and a few grapes. Continue – eating four pear and grape meals per day. Drink plenty of herb tea, plain filtered water and hot water with lemon. You can vary this a bit by alternating all pear and all grape meals.
Good luck and all the best for a healthy 2015!