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Pear Passion

Kate Hamilton January 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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Bring a breath of fresh air to your spa’s menu during the cold winter months with delicious pears. Unlike the tartness of an apple or the tang of citrus, pears are a delicate, juicy fruit with a grainy texture that tickles the tongue. Their aromatic scent also makes a great addition to skin care creams and lotions, as well as aromatherapy oils and candles.


There are nearly 1,000 varieties of pears, but only seven are grown commercially. The apple-shaped to teardrop-shaped fruit with its luscious texture has been sought after throughout history. In Western Asia, its use can be traced back 3,000 years. Pears were noted as “the gift of the gods” by the Greek poet Homer in his epic The Odyssey, and they were brought to the United States by the pilgrims. In the 1800s, people would pay up to $20, which today is equivalent to $222, for a taste of the rare fruit.

Pears are low in calories, are fat-free, and offer an excellent source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C and copper, making them a powerful punch in any diet. Fiber helps the body digest foods, lowers cholesterol levels and binds to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon. Potassium is an electrolyte that maintains the body’s fluid levels, and helps to regulate blood pressure and heart function. Vitamin C and copper act as strong antioxidants that protect against free radicals. Pears also make a tasty energy-boosting snack for clients on the go or for use along with a pear-themed treatment.

In the kitchen

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Quick Facts: Pear

• The soft, juicy, sweet fruit is related to the apple and the quince, and is a member of the rose family.

• The pear is a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C and copper.

• Referred to as “the gift of the gods” in Homer’s The Odyssey, pears also were considered to be a luxurious item in the court of Louis XIV.

• The first pear tree in the United States was planted in 1620, brought over by the early colonists.

• Pears ripen quickly, so those found at the grocery store often still are hard. Place unripened pears in a brown paper bag, and store at room temperature for a few days. Press your thumb near the stem end of the fruit—they are ready to eat if slightly soft to the touch.

• First available in late autumn, December is the one month when most varieties of pears can be purchased.

Recipe: Red Crimson Pear Phyllo Strudel

from Chef Steve Pernetti at Cal-a-Vie in Vista, California

Makes 12 servings

6 (2 pounds) red crimson pears, peeled, cored and sliced

1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) dried cranberries or cherries

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

6 12- x 16-inch sheets phyllo dough

Butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray, or a mixture of 1 teaspoon melted butter and 1 teaspoon almond oil

1/2 cup amaretti cookie or graham cracker crumbs

12 ounces regular or frozen nonfat vanilla yogurt

12 mint sprigs

36 raspberries

Cinnamon cream

1/2 package extra-firm silken tofu

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon almond oil

2 tablespoons sugar-free sweetener

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Combine pears, dried cranberries or cherries, brown sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Let stand for 10 minutes to cool.

2. Layer two sheets of phyllo on a work surface, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with cookie or graham cracker crumbs. Duplicate the layers two times. Spread the pear mixture over the phyllo. Roll phyllo from the 12-inch side to enclose the filling.

3. Place the roll on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing to serve. Arrange on serving plates.

4. Drizzle cinnamon cream over strudel. Serve with regular or frozen vanilla yogurt, and top with mint sprigs and raspberries.

For cinnamon cream:

Combine the tofu, maple syrup, almond oil, sugar-free sweetener and cinnamon in a blender, and process at high speed until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

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