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With a recommendation of 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, there is plenty of room to add variety to a child's fruit choices. And kids love fresh pears. Here are several ideas on how to easily incorporate this fresh choice into children's meals. In fact, they are so easy, your kids will have fun making these pear treats for themselves!

Power-Packed With Good Nutrition

Fresh USA Pears grown in Oregon and Washington are sweet, juicy and nutritious. For such a sweet compact package, USA Pears are loaded with good-for-you stuff. Pears are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium, yet they have no cholesterol, saturated fat or sodium and are low-calorie, with only 100 calories per serving.

Nut 'n' Pear Sandwiches--

These easy-to-create, bite-sized sandwiches are as fun to make as they are to eat. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out shapes from whole wheat bread. Spread a teaspoon of nut butter (peanut, hazelnut, almond, etc.), add a teaspoon of fruit jam and top with a cube or slice of fresh, ripe pear. Serve open-faced or top with a matching bread shape.

Pear Stack Snacks--

Kids love stacking and snacking! Core and slice/cube a fresh pear. Sliver fresh cheese into bite-sized pieces. Stack a small pile of whole wheat or rice crackers on a plate and present all three to kids to stack into snacks.

Pears are a unique fruit that ripen best off the tree (without getting technical, pears left to ripen on the tree can become gritty); they are meant to be ripened after purchase.

So, if you are faced with a bunch of rock-hard pears, follow this easy 1, 2, 3 process to get your pears to their ripe and juicy perfection:

1. Place hard pears in a paper bag or a covered fruit bowl, and leave at room temperature.

2. Every day, "Check the Neck for Ripeness." To do this, apply gentle pressure to the stem end of the pear with your thumb. When it yields to the pressure, it's ready to eat (usually takes a few days).

3. Enjoy your ripe, juicy pears now, or store them in the fridge until you're ready to use them. The fridge will slow down the ripening process, but won't stop it. Ready-to-eat pears will stay fresh in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.

Our mascots help us teach kids of all ages about sweet and healthy USA Pears. PearBear, a lovable and friendly bear from the Pacific Northwest (who just so happens to love pears), teaches kids about the importance of eating healthy, how to be a good neighbor and other ways to be a good citizen. The PearBear Chronicles, a series of eight books, shares the adventures of PearBear and his friends. The USA Pear buddies like to say "fruit plus fitness equals fun," and they show it by encouraging kids to learn about and eat pears, and to participate in active play to get and stay fit. USA Pear's nutrition spokesPEAR, Auntie Oxidant, presents pear nutrition information in a way that kids can understand. A Pear Buddy activity book called "Power Up With Pears" offers games and activities that kids can play.

Visit www.usapears.com and navigate to the "Just for Kids" pages for fun information about pears, stories, activities, games and more.

Quick Pear Sundae for any day--Add a healthy sweet burst to a favorite dessert by coring and slicing a fresh pear. Arrange the pear slices vertically in sundae dish or small cup with the bottom points touching. Place a scoop of vanilla or chocolate frozen yogurt in the middle. Kids can use the pears to scoop up the last melty bites of yogurt.

PearBear Starter

1 medium Northwest pear, cored and diced
1/2 cup low-fat fruit-flavored yogurt
2 to 3 tablespoons granola

Stir diced pear into yogurt. Serve in small bowl with granola over top. Makes 1 serving.

PearBear Picnic Blankets

1 medium Northwest pear, cored and cut into 8 wedges
Lemon juice (optional)
8 thin slices cooked turkey or lean ham
2 tablespoons cranberry sauce

Dip pear wedges in lemon juice, if desired. Spread each turkey or ham slice with cranberry sauce. Wrap each pear wedge in turkey or ham. Makes 8 snack servings.

Sunrise for PearBear

1 medium Northwest pear, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium orange, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup orange juice

Combine fruits and orange juice; mix well. Refrigerate 1 hour. Makes 2 servings.


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