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What's Cooking with WHRY: Holiday Spiced Pears

December 16, 2016
by Carissa R Violante

The holiday season is a time for seeing loved ones, sharing memories… and often resisting the urge to overindulge in sweets! But what if there were a healthier, lighter option that was just as satisfying? With only 119 calories per serving, these Holiday Spiced Pears will be sure to wow guests at the dessert table while also packing a healthful punch. Best of all, they come together quickly and simply with pantry staples that are likely already on hand.

For starters, pears are a great source of fiber. Consuming dietary fiber can help lower risk of heart disease and diabetes while keeping snack cravings tamed. Pears are also high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that boosts the effectiveness of the immune system and can combat the risk factors of some cancers. Be sure to use fresh pears — canned fruits are often packed in sweetened juices harboring up to 30 grams of added sugar.

To top it off, the spiced walnut topping adds both traditional holiday flavor and even more beneficial nutrients. Walnuts are high in folate, another vitamin that has been linked to reducing risk of stroke and cancer. Nuts are also a good source of protein, the essential part of a balanced diet responsible for building strong bones and muscles. And cinnamon has been shown to improve cholesterol levels for those with type 2 diabetes. †

This year, keep all your troubles miles away from the dessert table, and spice things up with Holiday Spiced Pears instead!


  • 2 very ripe pears (any variety, preferably sweet) *
  • 4 tablespoons crushed walnuts *
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of gingerpinch of allspice


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

2. Wash pears thoroughly and pat skin dry with a paper towel. Cut pears in half, then remove a thin slice of skin from the back of each half so pears will lay flat on baking sheet. Using a spoon or melon baller, remove the center seed core from each half and place on baking sheet, cored side up.

3. Mix honey, vanilla, and apple cider in small mixing bowl. Drizzle most of the mixture liberally over the pear halves, reserving about 1 ½ tablespoons for later.

4. Mix walnuts and remaining spices in a small mixing bowl. Sprinkle evenly over pear halves.

5. Bake for 30 minutes, until pears are tender and edges are lightly browned. Drizzle the remaining honey mixture evenly over cooked pears. Serve and enjoy while warm.

*Cook’s Note: Substitutions

If you can’t find ripe pears at your local supermarket, you could try this recipe with apples of a firm, tart variety like Braeburn, Jonagold, and Golden Delicious. Apples are nearly identical to pears in nutritional and caloric value. Check for doneness after 20 minutes in the oven. If you or one of your dinner guests has a nut allergy, try substituting the walnuts with 2 tablespoons of golden raisins from a nut-free facility. While higher in sugar and lower in folate and protein, raisins would pair well with the flavors of the pears and spices while not posing an allergy risk.

† Based on cinnamon doses of approximately 1-6 grams administered with relation to meal consumption for 4 to 18 weeks.

The information provided here may help you make more informed choices. However, it is not a substitute for an individualized nutrition plan, medical opinion, or diagnosis. You should always consult with your personal physician to make decisions about your diet and nutrition.

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Submitted by Carissa R Violante on December 16, 2016