Saturday, 23 February 2013

Are pears good for you?

In our house, I'm the only one who regularly eats pears and I've always thought everyone else is missing out on something really nice.  Occasionally Rachel will have one but they're not her favourite fruit.  B&H as picky teenagers, prefer to play safe with fruit by having bananas, apples and orange juice, often looking with complete distain as I thoroughly enjoy a good pear.

"Daddy you're so mankey and NO I don't want any of those" is the general tone whenever I might offer some.  One day they will probably astonish me by saying "yeah, okay I don't mind if I do" but I'm not exactly holding my breath.  I know that when they do come to enjoy it, they'll be saying "why didn't you tell us they were this nice?".  For anyone reading this who is also a father to teenage girls will already know that you can't possibly win this.  It's just impossible.

So many types of pears

In the UK, we do have some home grown varieties and others are imported from Europe and sometimes beyond.  Our neighbours are successfully growing Conference pears which, by coincidence, are my favourite.  I like these for their overall flavour and real juiciness when ripe, plus they're not too expensive when compared to some of the more exotic varieties.  Some of their shapes are a little weird but normally they are long and thin, darkish green and still pear shaped.  THey can also be quite large and therefore filling.

Also commonly available in the UK are Comice, as in the above photograph.  These are a little firmer to eat with a slightly buttery texture to the flesh under a fairly strong skin.  These are normally around the same price as Conference pears or perhaps a shade higher.

Imported from Europe are Williams, Rocha or Abate Fetal.  I have tried all of these and enjoy the subtle differences between them,

Elsewhere in the world are an even wider variety.  Perhaps one day I'll get the opportunity to try a few more varieties.

Best eaten when ripe!

Normally the supermarkets sell pears (and other fruits) in a semi-ripe condition.  So it's best to have some in the fruit bowl for a few days before giving them a gentle squeeze to see if they're ready to eat.  Some are okay with a little crunch but I prefer to eat them when they are so ripe and juicy you almost need to drink them!  It's quite a narrow window and I do remember the bowlful in the photograph above had to be scoffed in about two days.

While I enjoy them raw, they can be made into nice cooked puddings.  Before I become teetotal, each year I would enjoy a glass of Perry if I was lucky.  Perry is a refreshing drink and made from apples and pears.  It's a lovely drink to enjoy in the warm autumnal days but a shame it's alcoholic although I'm sure there must be alternatives.

Health benefits of pears

As with all fruit, they're bound to contain goodness for us.  One of the benefits is they are easily digested, especially if cooked or stewed in some way.  Naturally they contain fibre, most of which is present in the skin.  Pears are also helpful in helping the body to regulate cholesterol levels and lowering the risk of some cancers.

There is a complex range of phytonutrients generally present in pears along with Vitamins A and K.  We don't tend to hear much about Vitamin K these days which I think is a shame; it is helpful in helping our bodies repair cell damage.

It is worth checking out the World's Healthiest Foods website which gives a great deal of useful information about the positive health properties in more detail.

I enjoy pears

I thoroughly enjoy pears part of a wide and varied diet.  I guess I average at least one or two a week (the above bowlful which was consumed in a couple of days was the exception!).  I quite often have one in my bright red lunch box or as part of ideal breakfast which in our house is also referred to as Gravel.  Honestly, Gravel it gets called, often with the distain present when refusing delicious pears in the first place.

Pears are, for a cyclist, not recommended in terms of pushing into a little saddle bag as they can easily become damaged, squashed or bruised.  Instead save them for after a ride or a run, maybe as a nice easily digested supper and to top up those Vitamin K levels which will help the rejuvenating to take place in a good night's sleep.

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