This weekend at the farmers’ market where I shop, I was on the hunt for two things: a basket of pears and some local walnuts.
The pears were easy: still lots of local Bartlett and Bosc varieties around. The great thing about pears is that because they ripen better off the tree, you can buy them green and let them sit on the counter for a few days (a ripe banana will help speed things up). And, while ripe pears have a smooth, often buttery texture, they deliver loads of healthy fibre, with one medium having about a fifth of your daily needs. In addition, they contain the trace mineral copper, which helps keep our central nervous system hoping. For more about their nutrition, and for some creative ways to eat them up, see Perfect Pears, in the October issue of Best Health’on newsstands now.
The walnuts were more of a challenge. Although walnuts and hazelnuts can be grown in southern parts of Ontario and B.C., finding a farmer who manages to pick them before the squirrels, dry them and sell them at a market where many people don’t seem to appreciate nuts that are much smaller and darker-coloured than the commercial ones. They are also a bit harder to get out of the shell (I find a small hammer works well).
But they are worth hunting down. Fresh walnuts have a sweeter, richer flavour. They’re great tossed on a salad with pear slices, mixed with oats for a topping on pear crisp, or toast them lightly in a frying pan and eat with pear slices and a chuck of your favourite cheese. Of course nuts are packed with nutrients (and calories, so do keep an eye on serving size). Also, see 10 Tasty Ways to Cook with Nuts..