SOURCE: Pear Bureau

March 01, 2012 05:00 ET

Pear Perfection

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Mar 1, 2012) - (Family Features) For the more than 25 million Americans living with diabetes, food choices are critical to maintaining their health.

Chef Sam Talbot, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 12 years old, understands those challenges. But with his new cookbook he proves that diabetics don't have to sacrifice flavor in order to follow a healthy eating plan.

Talbot is the executive chef at the Surf Lodge in Montauk, New York, and earned national recognition as the runner-up in Season 2 of Bravo's hit TV show "Top Chef." In his new book, "The Sweet Life: Diabetes without Boundaries," he shares how diabetes has affected -- but has not compromised -- his life and career, and offers 75 fresh, all-natural recipes that can be enjoyed by both diabetics and non-diabetics.

Cooking to Manage Diabetes
Doctors recommend that people with diabetes follow a healthy, well balanced diet that includes plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and carbohydrates that rank lower on the glycemic index (GI). (See sidebar for more on the glycemic index.)

"Pears are one of my favorite fruits to use in recipes," says Talbot. "They are a low GI fruit, they're high in fiber, and the flavor of a ripe pear is just out of this world. They are incredibly versatile in sweet and savory recipes in all types of world cuisines. They can be part of any meal of the day."

The two recipes here are from Talbot's book, and showcase the fresh, sweet flavor of pears. For more information, visit www.SamTalbot.com, and for additional pear recipes visit www.usapears.org.

  • One medium pear provides 24 percent of your day's fiber, and 10 percent of your day's vitamin C -- for only 100 calories.

  • There are ten different varieties of USA Pears, each with its own color, flavor and texture.

  • More than 80 percent of the fresh pears grown in the U.S. are from the Pacific Northwest states of Washington and Oregon. USA Pears are in season from early fall through early summer.

The Glycemic Index
The glycemic index (GI) rates carbohydrates on a scale of 1 to 100 based on how rapidly a food item raises blood sugar levels after eating. Foods that rank high on the glycemic index are digested rapidly, which produces marked fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels. Foods with a low glycemic index are digested slowly and raise blood sugar and insulin levels gradually.

Source: University of Sydney Glycemic Index Group, Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular Biosciences.

Check the Neck for Ripeness
Ripeness is the key to enjoying pears at their sweetest and juiciest. To judge a pear's ripeness, USA Pear growers advise you to "check the neck." Press the neck, or stem end, of the pear. If it yields to gentle pressure, it's ripe, sweet and juicy. If it feels firm, simply leave the pear at room temperature to ripen within a few days. Don't refrigerate your pears unless you want to slow their ripening.

Yogurt with Pear and Coconut
Makes 4 servings
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded
coconut
2 tablespoons graham cracker
crumbs
1/2 cup Grape-Nuts or granola
cereal
1 tablespoon granulated stevia
extract, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ripe pears, such as Anjou or
Bosc, slightly firm to the touch
3 cups 2% plain Greek yogurt

In medium bowl, combine lemon juice, coconut, graham cracker crumbs, cereal, sweetener and cinnamon.

Peel, core and finely chop pears.

Spoon yogurt into 4 bowls and top with fruit and coconut mixture, or sprinkle directly onto each individual container of yogurt.

Note: This recipe can do double duty as a dessert if you serve it up parfait style. Spoon 1/8 of the pears into the bottom of each of 4 bowls or parfait glasses. Add 1/8 of the cereal mixture, then 1/2 cup of yogurt. Repeat with the remaining pears, cereal mixture, and yogurt.

Per Serving: 265 calories, 15 g protein, 38 g carbohydrates, 8 g total fat (6 g saturated), 8 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 157 mg sodium

Lavender Poached Pears
Makes 4 servings
2 large ripe pears, such as Bosc
or Anjou, slightly firm to
the touch
3 tablespoons granulated stevia
extract, or to taste
1 tablespoon dried lavender
2 blossoms dried hibiscus
1 chamomile tea bag
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint
leaves

Peel, halve and core pears using a melon baller to scoop out seeds.

In large pot, combine 3 cups water, sweetener, lavender, hibiscus, chamomile tea and mint. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add pears and simmer until you can easily pierce pears with the tip of a knife, about 20 minutes.

To serve, transfer pear halves to 4 individual bowls and ladle some of the cooking liquid over the top.

Per Serving: 72 calories, 1 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 2 mg sodium

Recipes excerpted from the book, "The Sweet Life: Diabetes without Boundaries," by Sam Talbot. Published by Rodale. Copyright © 2011.

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