A new parent’s BFF in the kitchen: USA Pears

(BPT) – Bringing a child into the world is a wonderful thing, but as new parents quickly learn, the journey, much like that tiny being, is in its infancy. After experiencing physiological and emotional changes throughout pregnancy and during childbirth, mothers may be eager to return to their pre-pregnancy rhythms. Birthing difficulties, fluctuating hormones, breastfeeding demands, interrupted sleep and other challenges, however, may conspire against one of the most basic rhythms: bowel regularity.

To get things moving, new mothers can reach for a natural and flavorful fiber-filled aid: pears. Ingesting enough fiber, staying hydrated and getting exercise can all help alleviate post-partum constipation naturally. But nutritious pears aren’t just for new mothers — they’re a healthy snack choice for the whole family and an ideal first food for baby.

One medium-size pear contains 6 grams of fiber or about 21% of the recommended daily amount, which can go a long way in keeping things moving along the digestive tract. That serving size weighs in at just about 100 calories and is completely fat- and cholesterol-free. As a bonus, pears contain vitamin C, carrying 8% of the daily need and supporting a healthy immune system.

Beyond their nutrition attributes, pears offer another advantage: enough sweetness and flavor to tempt even the smallest taste buds in your family. Getting enough fiber doesn’t need to be a battle at the dinner table. Each year, pear growers in Oregon and Washington produce 10 varieties that have distinct flavors and textures, and parents are sure to find a match for even the pickiest eater. Plus, many varieties are available year-round, which means pears can be a grocery list staple.

The versatility of pears is one more reason to keep them at the top of the shopping list. Pears can add sweetness and depth when blended into a breakfast smoothie. They can be sliced and eaten fresh as a snack, or those slices can be tossed into a lunch salad for extra fiber, flavor and texture. Pears can also make a rich side dish for dinner when roasted or grilled. More recipe ideas are available at usapears.org, including desserts featuring fresh and baked pears.

For the youngest member of the family, a pear can be the perfect first food. As new parents learn, post-partum constipation doesn’t affect only mothers. Infants transitioning to solid foods can experience similar digestive issues as they make the adjustment. A blended sweet pear delivers nutrition in an easily swallowed spoonful. And as babies grow, ripe pears can be soft enough to mash between their gums as more solid foods are added.

To enjoy the best flavor from a pear, it’s important to eat it at peak ripeness. Fortunately, finding a perfectly ripe pear is easy. Pears are one of the few fruits that don’t ripen on the tree; rather, the best way to ripen a pear is by storing it at room temperature. A pear is ripe and ready to eat when it gives a bit with gentle pressure applied to its neck.

Anytime is a good time to stock up on pears. They can be stored in the fridge to slow ripening and put on the counter near other ripening fruit to speed the process. The pear will get the hint, and the whole family will benefit.