December is national pear month and a great time to celebrate all that sweet winter pears have to offer. Pears are one of the most popular fruits in the US, falling just behind apples in popularity.

Pears come in many varieties including Asian varieties with a firm crisp texture and European varieties like the Bartlett pear that are softer and juicier. But not only are pears delicious, they are also nutritious.

• One medium pear has about 100 calories and 6 grams of fiber, which helps protect against colon cancer and feed the good bacteria in your gut.
• Pears are also rich in nutrients like vitamin C, beta-carotene, lutein and several B vitamins.

When purchasing pears, choose fresh, firm-textured fruits with no bruises or cuts. You can ripen green pears at room temperature in a paper bag with a banana, which helps speed up the ripening process. The color doesn’t always indicate ripeness. Most pears are ready to eat when they yield to gentle pressure near the stem, but remember Asian varieties have a texture similar to apples, so don’t expect them to soften.

Now that you know more about pear nutrition facts, why not make some Elegant Caramelized pears from getactivelacrosse.org?

2 Tbsp. melted butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 baking pears, halved lengthwise and cored*
2 Tbsp. chopped pecans

*Choose baking pears like Bosc or Bartlett, peeling if desired. Canned pear halves can be substituted for fresh.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In an 8×8-inch baking dish, mix together butter and brown sugar; spreading over bottom of pan. Lay pears cut-side-down over brown sugar. Bake 30 minutes. Turn pears over; sprinkle with pecans and spoon pan sauce over pears. Bake 10 minutes longer.