Three Different Dips for Fresh Pears

peardIpsHere is a fun and simple way to serve fresh USA Pears as a snack or appetizer. I’ve taken already fiber-rich pears and added ingredients containing protein, calcium, and antioxidants. Whip up these three dips and store them in the refrigerator for up to three days. Simply pull them out to soften slightly before the kids get home from school or while waiting for guests to arrive. All that’s left to do is slice up a few of your favorite USA Pears for dipping!

Three Different Dips for Fresh Pears

Ingredients
¼ cup of your favorite nut butter
2 tablespoons dried cherries, finely chopped
4 oz. low-fat cream cheese, softened
⅛ – ¼ tsp. almond extract
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted and chopped
1 (6 ounce) container plain or vanilla flavored Greek yogurt
8 – 10 fresh raspberries
cinnamon, for sprinkling
2 firm ripe USA Pears, such as Red or Green Anjou

Directions
Arrange three small bowls at your workstation. Into the first, add the nut butter and stir until smooth and blended. Top the nut butter with the chopped dried cherries. Into the second bowl, add the cream cheese and almond extract, and stir to combine. Sprinkle the cream cheese mixture with the toasted almonds. Into the third bowl, add the yogurt and raspberries, and stir well until the berries begin to break up and color the yogurt pink. Sprinkle the yogurt mixture with cinnamon. Lastly, cut the pears into wedges and serve alongside the three delicious dips.

Prep time 20 minutes
Yield: 6 snack-sized servings

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

Pear and Pineapple Green Smoothie smSQ

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

PBJ Bouquet 1

On the Road Again

I’ve taken a few road trips this summer, and eating in the car can be a slippery slope. Sitting for long periods of time, especially if driving alone, makes me want to snack to keep busy. The key for me to staying on target is to busy my mind to avoid the temptation to graze. I get bored listening to music for hours; during my last trip, I listened to a book and practiced Spanish with drive-time lessons on disc. This really helped curb my desire to snack!  As far as food is concerned, I plan ahead and try to stop somewhere pleasant to enjoy my lunch, which also limits snacking in the car.

I always pack a cooler with snackable veggies, fruit, and healthful meals – sandwiches are easy, and I almost always travel with bananas and pears to layer with peanut butter. Likewise, nuts in the shell are a good option since they are nutritious and keep my hands busy (not while driving, of course!). The hardest part for me is the insidious gas station fare: There is rarely anything healthful to eat at convenience stores. I limit my choices to low calorie beverages, nuts, and any fruit available, but allow myself one treat per day, e.g. chips or candy. Even better than this, stopping at roadside farm stands in the summer months is my favorite treat on trips! For your next long drive, why not take the time to stop and enjoy the lunch you prepared, and pack fresh fruit and veggies to fill you up between meals?

A Grand Adventure

Summer is here and for many of us that means hitting the road to adventure. Last weekend I hiked through the beautiful Grand Canyon, no small feat for my first long hike of the summer. Noshing on fresh fruit, nuts, and trail mix from a precipice above the Colorado River was the pinnacle of enjoyment and accomplishment – what a sense of wonder. And thank goodness I brought extra water and snacks for the grueling hike back up the canyon!

Whether your summer travel plans include hiking, sun and sand, or 18 holes, staying fueled and hydrated are keys to health, safety, and enjoyment under the sun. Before heading outside, especially on a hot, sunny day, make sure to drink plenty of water and eat a light, balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, fruit or vegetables, protein, and some healthy fats. Some good choices include cereal, trail mix, a salad or a sandwich. Pack some snacks or meals to take with you, especially if you are going to be active or out for more than 3 hours. Fresh fruit, nuts, cheese, granola bars, or sandwiches are quick, easy sources of nourishment. Likewise, pack plenty of water – more than you think you will need! During hot summer months, drink 4-6 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes while active and consider a sports drink if you are going to be active for more than an hour. Then, take time to rest, hydrate, fuel, and enjoy! A little preparation keeps you safe to fully enjoy your summer adventures.