National Pecan Day is this month, and there's plenty to celebrate about
this tree nut. It comes loaded with good-for-you monounsaturated fats,
at 12 grams per 1-ounce serving, and also has fiber, potassium, vitamin
A and a bounty of other nutrients. Pecans can lower cholesterol levels
and are rich in antioxidants that can prevent disease.
But that same serving size--equal to about 19 pecan halves--also has almost
200 calories, so you need to be judicious in adding pecans to your daily
diet. While that means avoiding pecans that are salted, sugared, dipped
in chocolate or baked in a pie--delicious as those options may be--there
are still ways to get the flavor and health benefits of pecans:
1. Top off your breakfast. Chopping a small handful of pecans and adding them to yogurt, oatmeal
or granola gives a hearty, satisfying crunch to your morning meal. Add
in berries for a nutritious, and tasty, start to your day.
2. Add texture to creamy soups. You may already know that a sprinkling of pecans is a great topping for
salads, but it's also the perfect finishing touch for pureed soups
such as pumpkin and butternut squash. Toast the pecans for a few minutes
in the oven to get all of their nutty goodness.
3. Use in a crust for fish or chicken. Liven up the typical breadcrumb coating by mixing in ground pecans for
a richer flavor. Make sure to bake, and not fry, the chicken or fish.
4. Change up your pesto sauce. Swap out the pine nuts for pecans the next time you need a simple sauce
for pasta. Ideally, the noodles should be made from whole grains, or even
5. Make your own pecan butter. Grinding toasted nuts in a blender or food processor allows you to control
the ingredients (simply mix in a dash of cinnamon or salt) as well as
your preferred texture (chunky or smooth). The end result is a snack-ready
spread ideal for pairing with a slice of whole-grain bread or cut-up apples.
Store in the fridge to prolong freshness.