Pear, Buckwheat, and Gouda Scones with Fig Jam

SconesDo you have company coming for Easter brunch? Alongside the ham and asparagus, serve these delightfully unique savory scones. Honey-sweet pears, nutty buckwheat, and tangy Gouda cheese are a match made in heaven. Offer the scones with a side of fig jam and watch how quickly they disappear.

Pear, Buckwheat, and Gouda Scones with Fig Jam

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup buckwheat flour
¼ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
6 ounces firm, aged gouda cheese, grated
2 ripe USA Pears, such as Red Anjou or Bosc, small dice
¾ cup buttermilk (plus 2 tablespoons more if necessary)
Fig jam, for serving

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, combine the flours, sugar, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt and pulse to combine. Add the cold butter and the cheese and pulse briefly 8 – 10 times, or until the mixture becomes crumbly. Transfer to a large bowl, add the diced pears, and stir gently to combine. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Using a fork, gently bring the mixture together until just combined, adding more buttermilk if necessary. The mixture should be moist and crumbly, but not sticky. Turn the scone dough out onto a lightly floured board and using floured hands, gently press into a circle about ¾ inch tall. Using a 2 to 3 inch floured biscuit cutter or glass, cut as many scones as you can from the dough and gently transfer them to a baking sheet, leaving at least one inch of space between each scone. Gather the remaining dough and press into a circle again, continuing to cut out scones until all of the dough has been used up. Bake the scones for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Allow the scones to cool for at least 15 minutes and serve with the fig jam.

Prep time: 20 minutes, plus baking
Yield: 8-12 scones

Snack Right to Stay Healthy Through the Holidays

Office candy dishes, gifts of baked goods, parties, dinners, and extra-packed to-do lists all shuffle in with the holiday season. And increased stress levels can also follow suit. While we can’t do your holiday shopping for you, we can offer up a helpful tool for keeping your energy level stable, your mood happier, and your weight steadier during the holiday season… snacks. But not just any old snacks will do, follow these four tips to ensure your snacks are energy-boosting powerhouses.

Use the Rule of 2: The combination of protein, high fiber/less processed carbohydrates, and fat is one that keeps blood sugar and energy levels stable for hours. At mealtime, make sure you have this triple threat (+ veggies!) on your plate. At snack time, aim for at least 2 of the 3…what we call the “rule of 2.” Examples: Sliced pear (carbs) with almond butter (fat); string cheese (protein) with hummus (fat); small latte (protein from milk) with walnuts (fat).
Recipe idea: Pear Slices With Goat Cheese, Pistachios, And Pink Peppercorns

Sip with Snacks: The winter air is dry. When you combine that with a hectic schedule with too few sips of water, dehydration often comes knocking. To ensure water intake throughout the day, hydrate along with snacks. A cup of herbal tea or sparkling water with lemon not only helps to hydrate but also makes your snack feel more satisfying by naturally slowing you down while you eat (because you’re also sipping). Including fruits and/or veggies in snacks also helps to hydrate, since these foods naturally contain lots of water.
Recipe idea: Pear And Pineapple Green Smoothie

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Practice Mindfulness: A busier-than-usual schedule mixed with more-abundant-than-usual treats lying around can lead to all-day noshing without really realizing or enjoying it. Mindfulness — having an internal conversation with yourself before eating to ask yourself if you’re actually hungry, what you’re really hungry for, etc. — is a vital component to ensuring that you don’t eat more than you need and also make choices that make you feel good. Before eating, ask yourself “Will this make me feel good now? In two hours? Tomorrow?” If you can answer yes to all three, and you’re genuinely hungry, then have enough to satisfy that hunger. If your answer is no, take a walk, sip some tea, catch up with a co-worker, or any other non-food related 5-minute activity.
Recipe idea: Grilled Chicken, Pear, and Avocado Toasts

Plan Ahead: Preparation is key during the holidays. Have a holiday party coming up? Think about your schedule, consider what time the party starts, what you want to eat there, and whether you need a snack beforehand. If you’re shopping on the weekend, plan where you’ll have lunch, how you’ll stay hydrated, and whether you need a snack or two in your bag (answer: you usually do.) The bottomline is that if you don’t plan out food choices ahead of time, you leave it up to chance and that doesn’t always bode well during the busy, sweet-filled holidays. But a little planning goes a long way to making you feel better all season long!
Recipe idea: Pear PB And J Bouquet

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Make Time for You

Lonely SeckelI have an influx of stressed calls and emails this time of year, mostly from clients and students trying to manage health and holiday stress at the same time. I know how frustrating this time of year is, I struggle with the same problem! Don’t fret, there are simple solutions to help you have a healthy holiday season.

First, make a schedule and stick to it. I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it, if you schedule time for exercise, food preparation, and sleep and you follow the schedule, you’re better equipped to take care of yourself and manage stress. Second, eat before events and move away from the treat table! At my friends’ parties, we always stand around the food, chatting and snacking. This is such a hard habit to break, but if you eat ahead of time and pull your friends away from the table you’re less likely to overeat. Third, make time to decompress. Whether you enjoy stretching, reading, games or simply sitting quietly, allow yourself at least 10 minutes every day for quiet time and positive thoughts. Finally, and most importantly, be kind to yourself! Nobody is perfect and there is always tomorrow. Remember that the holidays are about celebrating family and friends, so allow yourself to splurge a little, then get back on track the next day. Happy Holidays!

Three Cheers for the Concorde

The National Pear Month fun continues with the crisp Concorde pear. Vanilla-sweet and elegant, this green-skinned blend of the Comice and Conference varieties miiight be a favorite variety of many USA Pears employees…if we played favorites.

4x7 Concorde

The Concorde pear’s firm texture makes it a great fit for baked goods, desserts, and roasting, but it’s also delicious eaten fresh or in salads, like this Autumn Concorde Pear Salad with celery root and fennel.

Concorde Pear Salad

Whirl a Concorde pear into a green smoothie for natural sweetness and smooth texture.

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Sweet Concorde pears make a perfect partner for tangy goat cheese and savory herbs in this Pear and Thyme Crisp.

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However you decide to enjoy your Concorde pears, make sure to check the neck for ripeness. If your pear gives to gentle pressure near the stem end, it’s ripe and sweet.

Check in with our friends at One Sweet Appetite, Love and Olive Oil, and The Little Epicurean for more delicious pear treats and dishes in celebration of National Pear Month!

Befriend the Forelle

Next up in the National Pear Month lineup: the fun, freckled Forelle!

Forelle USA pear

Forelle means “trout” in German, and you can see where this variety gets its name—it’s easily spotted by its spots! Smaller than the average pear, the Forelle has a crisp texture and a slightly tangy flavor.

The Forelle shines in a classic salad, like this Pear and Watercress Salad with Goat Cheese, Gouda, and Walnuts.

Pear Watercress SaladLooking for something more upscale? Put pears on your holiday menu along with some seasonal seafood, like this King Crab with Pear Tabbouleh Salad.

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Polish it all off with these adorable little bundled Forelle Pears Baked in Pastry. They’re like mini pies, but with twice the filling.

forelles baked in pastry

If you need ripe Forelle pears for your recipes or a quick snack, just check the neck. If your pear gives to gentle pressure near the neck, it’s ripe and sweet! Store your Forelle pears in the refrigerator if you need to slow ripening.

Don’t forget to check out our Instagram account this week—we’re running a contest for the first ten days of December! Tell us your #PearfectPairing and you could win a box of fresh pears delivered straight to your doorstep!

Celebrating the Sweet Seckel

Break out the party poppers! National Pear Month is here, and we’re celebrating during December by introducing you to all ten varieties of Northwest-grown pears.

Did you know our favorite fruit comes in a bite-sized variety? Meet the Seckel: crisp, sweet, and petite. Olive green with a maroon blush, the Seckel is ideal pickled, as a picture-perfect garnish for holiday entrees, or eaten fresh out of hand! Sized for small hands, it’s a popular lunchbox pick.

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Adorn your holiday ham with roasted Seckel pears…or get exotic with this Spiced Squab Breast with Seckels.

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Make a peck of pickled pears, wrap a ribbon around the jar, and put it under the tree. Voila! This simple gift from your kitchen will have everyone asking for more.

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Everyone’s going with the grain (salad) this year. You can sweeten your table with this Pear, Roasted Carrot, and Ginger Quinoa Pilaf.

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Don’t forget to check the neck for ripeness, even on your little Seckels. If your pear gives to gentle pressure near the neck, it’s ripe and ready to eat. Get your snack on!

Behold the Red Bartlett

December is National Pear Month, and we’re celebrating all ten varieties of USA Pears during these first ten days, along with our friends at Love and Olive Oil, One Sweet Appetite, and The Little Epicurean.

Today, we’re all about the Red Bartlett, a lesser-known sister of the quintessential pear variety, the Bartlett. We love the soft, juicy, and sweet Red Bartlett pear for its bright pop of color and its mellow flavor in recipes. The Red Bartlett can be identified by its soft red skin, classic pear shape, and vertical stripes of color.

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Red Bartlett pears shine atop savory entrees, like these Grilled Pizzettas with Pears, Shaved Ham, and Fresh Basil.

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Raise a glass to the peak of pear season with Red Bartlett pears in this festive White Sangria with Cranberry Syrup.

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File this one away for warmer days: a pitch-perfect summer salad with first-of-the-season Red Bartlett pears, sweet corn, and strawberries.

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Red Bartlett pears change from a dark red to a bright, rich red as they ripen. Make sure to keep them at room temperature and check the neck for ripeness. If your pear gives to gentle pressure near the stem, it’s ripe and ready to eat. Only store pears in the refrigerator to slow ripening.

Cheers to National Pear Month!

The Perfect Poach

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December is National Pear Month and the holiday season… This is the perfect recipe for poaching pears! So, how do you poach the perfect pear? Easy, it’s science! Osmosis is the movement of water across a membrane, or in this case, the pear’s cell wall. Poaching uses a minimal amount of water to simmer at a low temperature to optimize texture and flavor: The fruit will soften due to an increase in movement of the poaching liquid into the flesh of the fruit; thus, the flavor of the poaching liquid is infused into the fruit! Ideally, the poaching fluid is about 2 parts liquid (water, wine, acid) to 1 part sugar/spices. Poaching creates a tender mouthfeel by breaking down the plant cell wall and allowing the poaching liquid to enter and leave its essence. Yum!

To poach the perfect pear:
Choose a pear with a slightly firmer texture, such as a Bosc or Seckel.
Peel if desired, then either leave whole or cut in half and core.
Fill a stainless steel pan with the poaching liquid. (Hint: sugar solutions help maintain fruit texture!)
Flavor the liquid with spices or herbs.
Ensure the pears stay submerged and simmer until the fruit pierces easily with a fork or knife.
Remove the pears and serve! Dispose of the liquid or simmer until desired consistency for serving.

Happy National Pear Month and happy holidays!

Happy New Year!

RBP9037046 Woman with PearAfter the fireworks and dancing of New Year’s Eve, what do we have on January 1? A resolution that most of us fail to achieve. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans make resolutions, but only 8% are successful in achieving their goals. Not surprisingly, in an adult nation that is 69.2% overweight or obese, weight loss is the most common resolution. Although statistics suggest the likelihood of accomplishing a resolution is slim, if you want to achieve your goal, start small, be realistic, and be specific. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to meet their goals!

Start by writing a plan week by week or month by month. For instance, instead of planning to exercise 5 times per week, plan for 3 times per week. Making realistic goals keeps us from feeling guilt and disappointment. Try one of these tips for a quick, attainable plan. Cut out soda or a sugary snack every day for one month (likely, you won’t add it back in!). Next month, add one more serving of fruit or veggies each day. Add exercise in small amounts – add a walk every other day, or add ten minutes of activity to each day. You’ll feel better, look better, and are more likely to make a different resolution next year. Good luck and happy New Year!

Source: University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 12/13/2013

Thanks-Living

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The holidays are here, possibly the happiest and unhealthiest time of year. On Thanksgiving when we’re giving thanks and celebrating friends and family, we seem to put health last. Start a new tradition and make health a priority this year! Why not start the holiday with a Turkey Trot or family fun run/walk in your neighborhood? And eat breakfast, even though you may plan to eat a large meal later. Studies show that exercise and breakfast keep us from eating too much throughout the day. For breakfast try fiber and protein-rich foods to keep you satisfied, maybe a veggie omelet with a side of fruit. And, for the big meal, keep two or three of your family’s favorite traditional holiday foods and scrap the least favorites for fresh veggies and fruit salad. Research from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab suggests that if your table has fewer options, you’re likely to eat less! Try tossing diced pears, persimmons, and oranges with dried cranberries and pecans for a new fall favorite. Yum!

Finally, I have a confession: My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is dessert. To keep from binging too much, my family has a rule. We won’t eat pie right after the big meal; we wait a few hours when we’re ready for leftovers. As strange as it sounds, we eat less this way! Cheers to you, your family, and health!