I thought I’d died and gone to heaven… or at least gone back in time. I was at the Goshen Community Market on a typical fall Saturday, filling my bags with great food, when I spied this large basket of pears—big green speckled pears like the ones I picked with my grandparents from the side of a country road or in a neighbor’s yard (With their permission, of course!). The Family Garden from over in New Douglas, IL was selling them, harvested from their front yard. I had to make two trips on my bike to get them all home!

Picking fruit is a favorite childhood memory—except for maybe persimmons, when I had to learn the hard way that you shouldn’t try to eat them unless they were syrupy and super ripe. Cotton mouth for hours. Pecans, apples, pears, walnuts, persimmons—all these local delicacies were foraged on crisp, sunny autumn afternoons when I was a child. My grandma brought them home and turned them into pies, cobblers, breads and jams. So I did the same with these amazing market pears.

My spicy vanilla-scented muffins are perfect with a dab of butter on a cool fall morning—they also tasted pretty good with my new love Raw Vegan Caramel Cream! I really think you should give them a try–not too sweet, whole grain goodness and full of fresh fruit flavor!

Note that this recipe has a couple of upfront steps to prepare the pears. After the recipe, I’ll give you a way to extend this pear preparation for other uses. So find a tree and stock up on the pears!

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Using Your Bean

Remember the vanilla bean pod I told you to reserve? Well, here’s what I did to extend the duty of this expensive ingredient: put the pod back into the bowl that contained the lemon juice, pears and sweeteners. Add a second round of these ingredients back into the bowl—three large pears that you have peeled, cored and chopped; a quarter-cup lemon juice—even the zest if you wish; the honey and molasses to taste. Refrigerate overnight and up to about five days. Use this vanilla-scented fruit to top yogurt, eat right out of the bowl or in the kale smoothie here, featuring Swanson Vanilla Protein Powder from the New Hope Network Blogger Box

Photo Collage with Swanson Plant Protein Powder and Vanilla Pear & Kale SmoothieVanilla Pear & Kale Smoothie

You’ll need the following:
One cup of the prepared pear chunks and some of the liquid (How much liquid depends on how thick or thin you enjoy your smoothies.)
One cup washed, chopped kale leaves
One scoop Swanson Plant Protein Powder, Vanilla Flavor
One tablespoon nut butter—peanut or almond work well
One half-cup cashew milk, or plant beverage of choice
Pinch coarse sea salt
Agave syrup to taste

Just put everything in your blender and process on high power for about two minutes. Timing depends on the power of your blender.

Swanson was an easy choice to feature on my blog. The company is well established in the world of supplements and healthy  living products, having been around since 1969. Also, Swanson is committed to transparency in its practices and to corporate responsibility concerning company employees and the  companies around the world from which they purchase ingredients. The company operates under the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (SB 657):  “Swanson Health Products is committed to conducting business in an ethical and responsible manner. It is Swanson Health Products’ priority to safeguard the rights of our employees and those of the workers who manufacture our products or work in the supply chain. Swanson Health Products’ suppliers are expected to conduct their operations in a socially responsible manner.”

Finally, Swanson has a lengthy list of community engagement activities, dating from the company’s inception, and a considerable amount of charitable giving. Plus, I love the rich vanilla flavor of this powder and its ability to smooth out nicely in the smoothie. Give it a go! You can shop online directly from them or contact your independent local health food store to see if they carry Swanson Products.

Looking for more stuff to “pear”? Try this month’s Pear Galette that is savory, not sweet. Or try the crisp I made a couple of years ago. Both are great recipes to highlight this seasonal treat.