Monday, February 7, 2011

Au Pear

Pears are another big hit amongst the kiddos because they’re wonderfully sweet, but not too sweet so you don’t feel guilty letting your little one indulge.  At one time you were stuck between two choices in pears in the produce aisle: Bartletts or… Bartletts again!  Nowadays the most common pears in supermarkets are: Bosc, Bartlett, D’Anjou & Asian pears.  Asian pears are oftentimes called “apple pears” because they have a crisp texture not unlike an apple.  The “squeeze test” for ripeness doesn’t really apply to them because they have very firm flesh, even when ripe.  Bosc pairs are similar in that they are firmer-fleshed pears; both Asian & Bosc pears have tougher skins like an apple –though Bosc pears have a less glossy look almost like a potato!  Whatever breed you choose, they’re going to be loaded with vitamins, fiber, & your child will love them.

Like most dense fruits, pears are loaded with fiber.  Fiber will always aid in a healthy colon, but pears have an additional “poo perk”: more poo! Doesn’t sound like much of a perk, but if your child is constipated or has hard stools, these are a great fruit to loosen them up a bit.  A medium Bartlett pear not only has 6 grams of fiber, it is also a great source of vitamin C, 100 calories, & zero fat!

Vitamin C & Antioxidants:
We all hear that vitamin C is essential for keeping us out of the doctor’s office.  Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, contains “ascorbate,” an antioxidant, which is yet another buzzword in today’s food world.  Wikipedia defines an antioxidant as a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules,” but what on Earth does that mean & why is oxidation bad for us??  Well, to be very brief on the subject of oxidation, it’s basically the removal of electrons, & when an electron is removed it makes the cell go all haywire & create what is called a “free-radical.”  Free radicals are responsible for cell aging & cell death.  Vitamin C provides the cell with the electrons needed to go back to “normal,” thus creating a healthy cell.  Healthy cells fight off infection better.  Ta-dah!  Aren’t antioxidants a blast??

So now you know one of the many great reasons we should all enjoy a pear now & again.  Preparing them is also very simple & you can use whatever steaming method is convenient for you.  You can put them in a foil packet with some water in the oven, place them in a vegetable steamer, or use one of those nifty little microwave steam bags!  I just use what I have on hand & that is: a colander, a pot of almost boiling water, & a lid.

1 medium pear, any variety

1.       Peel fruit with vegetable peeler or paring knife.  Cut in half & remove seeds & rough core with a spoon.  You can also just do what I do & cut around the seeds.  Cut into fairly-uniform sized chunks & place into cooking vessel.

2.       Follow manufacturer’s instructions if you’re using a steamer or steam bags.  When using a foil packet, put fruit inside the packet with a few tablespoons of water.  Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until fruit is soft.  If using the colander method, place heat-safe colander over a pot of near-boiling water, put fruit in colander & cover with lid.  Steam for 15 minutes or until fruit is soft.

3.       Once fruit is cooked & slightly cooled, place in food processor (or food mill) & process until smooth.  Add warm water to reach desired consistency, though it probably won’t be needed.

This recipe yields about one serving of pear puree.

Happy eating!
-Elias’s mommy

Sources: (Ascorbic Acid); (nutrition facts on pears); (pear photos); What to Expect: The First Year book by Heidi Murkoff (baby food stages)

Common store varieties of pears.

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