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Healthy Orange Salad

Add a healthy orange salad to your dinner meal to help you reach the minimum recommendation of 5 fruit and vegetable servings daily. Think outside of the box by enjoying both fruit and veggie-based salads. Beans, whole grains and herb add variety and flavor. Citrus goes well with greens and tomatoes with fresh mozzarella cheese. Experiment with fresh herbs. They pair well with many fruits and veggies and offer health benefits. For a tasty salad or side dish, top peeled sliced oranges with chopped mint. The explosive flavor of this combination is zesty and outrageously delicious.

Parsley health benefits and uses

Parsley is one of the most popular herbs in the world. Easy to grow, you can also find this biennial plant in most supermarkets year round. While perhaps not the most glamorous of herbs, parsley is versatile, nutritious and offers many health benefits. If you think parsley is just a decorative garnish, you’re missing out!

Herbs and spices add flavor to foods but are powerful disease fighters, rich in nutrients. Parsley is high in vitamins K and C and is a good source of vitamins A and folate (per 1/2 cup, fresh). Parsley contains two health promoting compounds: volatile oils and flavonoids. Some of the benefits of parsley’s compounds include reducing inflammation, promoting heart health, a strong immune system, healthy bones and more.

Fresh is best. Look for vibrant green leaves, absent of dry, wilted yellow patches. Keep fresh parsley in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Sprinkle chopped parsley on everything including meats, poultry and fish. Add parsley to salads, salad dressings, soups and sauces. Chop the stems for a crunchy topping to pasta and potato salads. Add a handful to your favorite green smoothie recipe. Make a delicious pesto with fresh basil, spinach, parsley, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice and fresh parmesan.

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.