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Pear: A Lucious Fall Fruit

In case you missed the chill in the air, the abundance of seasonal autumn produce – crisp apples, colorful squash, and pears should tell you that winter is just around the corner. Why pears? Why now? They are a truly versatile, luscious, flavorful and healthful fall fruit. Most North American pears are grown in Oregon and Washington. Though you can find some variety from August through May as some type is harvested year-round, true ‘pear season‘ begins in September/October. That is when they are most abundantly available, less expensive and flavorful. In case there is any doubt – just look at the range of skin colors among pear varieties. They match the gorgeous hues of the fall leaves: gold, russet, mauve, pale green, ginger, crimson and more.

Pear Varieties

Not a fan? Perhaps it’s because you’ve always eaten canned pears or rock hard, out-of-season green Anjou pears which are available almost year-round in supermarkets. It’s time to broaden your horizons and enjoy new varieties…as there are many. The first pear varieties to explode on the scene in September are Bosc (russet-colored and firm even when ripe), Bartlett (green and red, ultra juicy) and Comice (green with brown flecks, firm flesh). By October you can find Anjou (red and green), Concorde (pale green), Forelle (green skin spotted with red flecks) and Seckel (shiny skin, often mostly a muted green color with a patch of reddish-orange) appear…and that’s hardly a comprehensive list!

Some varieties might be harder to find in your region than others but make it your goal to try at least one new variety this season. You’ll find in-season pears to offer a firm but juicy texture and flavors that range from very sweet to tart. Use this as a guideline, but keep in mind most pears, as with many fruits and vegetables, can be eaten raw or cooked (except Bartlett).

Eating versus Cooking

Best for eating raw: Bartlett (soft, lose their shape when cooked), Comice (also juicy, very sweet, may not cook well), French butter, Anjou and Asian (‘crisp’ flesh, like an apple, good for dicing and adding to salads or using in tarts or crisps)

Best for cooking: Bosc, seckel (tiniest variety, very firm, slightly acidic) and forelle (sweet-tart, snacking or cooking)

Pear Nutrition and Health Benefits

The pear is a relatively low-calorie fruit. One medium-sized fruit, or about 175 grams, offers about 95 calories. Calories per fruit vary according to variety and size. They are fat, cholesterol and sodium-free but high in dietary fiber, providing roughly 6 grams per medium-sized fruit. Pears (and apples) contain an appreciable amount of soluble fiber, which may help to lower cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar levels (slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream).

Selecting and Storing

Choose firm, blemish-free, stem-on pears with unbroken skin. They ripen quickly and bruise very easily so handle with care. Store them at room temperature until they reach desired ripeness. Though you can store them in the refrigerator for a couple of days to ‘hold’ them at a certain ripeness, pears are best, and juiciest, when eaten at room temperature. They are ripe when the flesh ‘gives’ gently when pressed at the neck of the fruit.

Zucchini Nutrition Facts

There’s zucchini…and then, well, there’s ZUCCHINI (see photo). This popular variety of summer vegetable is light, refreshing, versatile and delicious. Zucchini is easy to grow in a home garden….and boy, does it grow. Summer squash is in peak season early in the summer but home gardeners may not harvest it until mid-summer or later. Eating produce in-season ensures fantastic flavor and lower prices. Late summer and early fall is not time to wind down your trips to the farmer’s markets, but to kick it into high-gear as August is a big harvest month.

Summer squashes are relatives to winter squashes, such as pumpkins as well as melons and cucumbers. They belong to the Cucurbitaceae family of plants. Zucchini has a soft shell and creamy white flesh. In terms of selection, choose firm zucchini (free of blemishes) with a shiny, slightly prickly green skin. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. DO NOT wash until you are ready to use.

This low-carbohydrate vegetable offers 20 calories per cup, sliced, 0 g fat, 4 g carbohydrate, 3 g sugar, 1 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber and 10 mg sodium. Zucchini is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of other essential micronutrients, such as molybdenum, vitamin B6 and manganese. Summer squash is one of the best food sources of various carotenoids (antioxidants found in dark green/orange veggies), such as alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Supporting healthy eyesight, offering anti-cancer benefits and supporting blood sugar metabolism are just three of the many health benefits of this nutrient-dense veggie. Eat raw (as a snack or on top of a salad) or slice and steam to retain the most nutrients (skin-on). Zucchini can be frozen, but doing so will soften the flesh…however, frozen summer squash actually retains its antioxidant content (potency) very well.

You can find recipes for zucchini bread, cake, muffins, etc. What about something different and super-easy? Cut your zucchini length-wise in 1/4″ slices. Brush lightly with olive oil and grill seasoning (and/or seasonings you like). Grill (on a pre-heated grill) until tender, about 3-4 minutes per side!

Mango Nutrition: Calories in Mango

About the Mango Fruit

The mango is a large fruit that grows on trees in sub-tropical and tropical climates. Originating in Southeast Asia, where it has been cultivated for 4,000 years. Mango trees are actually evergreens that will grow up to 60 feet tall but fruit an average of 5 years after planting. Mango trees yield the best crops during hot, dry periods. The U.S. imports most of its mangos from Mexico, Haiti, the Caribbean and South America but grows them in Florida as well. You’ll find mangos in the produce section of your grocery store. Choose mangos that are slightly firm, blemish-free with a sweet aroma and no sap on the skin. After storing at room temperature for 1 to 2 days, store cut up, peeled mango in the refrigerator.

Mango Fruit: Most Interesting Facts

You may not know that: there are over 1,000 different varieties of mango worldwide and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mangos are the most widely consumed fruit in the world!! Depending upon the time of year, you can usually find one of six mango tropical fruit varieties available for purchase in the U.S. They are ‘in-season’ in spring. The most widely available commercial variety in the U.S. is the ‘Tommy Atkins’ mango which is available from March – July and October – January. In June look for other varieties, including the Ataulfo, Haden, Francis and Kent mangos.

Mangos, like another tropical fruit, the papaya, contains unique enzymes that aid in proper digestion. The enzymes in unripe (green) and ripe mangos are very good tenderizing agents. Mangos are an excellent ingredient addition to any meat marinade recipe. In fact, in India, a sour powder which contains ground up green mango, is used for seasoning and tenderizing.

Mango Calories and Nutrition

One cup of sliced, raw mango (without skin) offers 107 calories, 0 g fat, 1 g protein, 28 g carbohydrate, 24 g sugars, 3 g dietary fiber and 3 mg sodium. Mangos have a very distinctive, sweet flavor and a yellow-orange flesh. It is an excellent source of vitamin C. One cup of slice, raw mango provides 45.7 mg vitamin C, meeting 3/4 of the average daily requirement for this nutrient. This fruit is also an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), meeting 25% of the recommended daily value. Vitamins A and C act as antioxidants, protecting your body’s cells from free radical damage and giving your immune system a boost. Mangos are a good source of the trace mineral copper, which, along with vitamin C, is needed to form collagen and, along with iron, form hemoglobin to transport oxygen throughout the body.

Recipes

Eat mango fresh or peel, cut and freeze it (or purchase it in frozen chunks) to use in smoothies. Because they are so sweet, they work well in any smoothie, especially green smoothie recipes to off-set the bitterness of leafy greens. If you’ve got a high-powered blender, try this green smoothie recipe (no measurements, a ‘handful’ works but use your judgement and taste buds for portions): layer, in order: green grapes and/or watermelon; fresh baby spinach, one carrot, 1/4 apple, 1/4 to 1/2 avocado, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, a handful of frozen pineapple chunks and mango chunks and a splash of coconut milk, soy milk or regular skim milk (may or may not wish to add a squeeze of honey). Blend well and enjoy!

Mangos pair well with poultry and work in marinades, on salads, in fish tacos, chutney, salsa and on skewers with pork or shrimp for fun dinners. Try this mango coconut rice recipe. You can even use mangos to prepare fun, tasty alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks or sweet and savory salsa and chutney. If you love mango juice, don’t buy it bottled but make it fresh to reap greater health benefits and better flavor. That way, you can control the sugar content – remember, you don’t need much as mangos are so sweet.