When it comes to America’s native nut, great taste is just the beginning. Heart-healthy with power-packed protein, this nutrient-dense nut boasts multiple health-promoting nutrients and bioactive compounds. The pecan has rightfully earned its reputation as a nutrition powerhouse.

Nuts have have a very well-deserved reputation as a health food. In addition to fiber and plant protein, they’re chock-full of good fat, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But pecans are one nut healthy eaters tend to overlook. (I’m sure it doesn’t help that pecans star in a few indulgent desserts, like pecan pie and pralines.) The truth is, this delicious nut boasts some unique nutritional perks that are worth spotlighting. Here, three good reasons to eat more pecans—plus simple ways to enjoy them, all year long.

Pecans are rich in polyphenol antioxidants, specifically flavonoids, which have been tied to heart benefits. In fact, the nuts have more than twice the flavonoid content found in almonds, cashews, and pistachios, and seven times the amount in walnuts. Compared to other nuts, pecans also have the highest levels of gamma-tocopherols, which is a form of vitamin E and another key antioxidant. Two separate studies have suggested that the increase in gamma-tocopherols levels from eating a pecan-rich diet helps prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease.

They’re also rich in minerals
Pecans are an excellent source of thiamin and zinc, as well as manganese and copper. One ounce (about 19 halves) supplies 60% of the Daily Value (DV) for manganese, and 40% of the DV for copper. Manganese helps regulate blood sugar, and is needed for healthy bones. This mineral also helps form collagen, which gives skin its firmness and elasticity. Copper aids in iron absorption, and works with iron to help the body form red blood cells. It also supports immunity, and helps keep blood vessels, nerves, and bones healthy.

And they’re naturally sweet
One ounce of pecans contains just one gram of sugar. But compared to other nuts, pecans taste sweeter. That means they can help satisfy a sweet craving with no or less added sugar.
You can simply snack on a handful, or pair them with fruit (pecans go well with apples, pears, grapes, and kiwi). In the morning, try blending pecans into a smoothie; or add them to hot or cold cereal, oatmeal, a yogurt parfait, or muesli.
Pecans also add natural sweetness and crunch to savory dishes. Sprinkle them onto cooked veggies, whole grains, pulses, spaghetti squash, fish, chicken, tuna salad, or entrée salads.

For a superfood treat, dip pecan halves into melted dark chocolate and dust with ground cinnamon (yum), or use pecan butter and chopped pecans as the base for energy balls, mixed with chopped dried figs, raisins, or apples, rolled oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
Pick up a bag of pecans on your next trip to the market, or look for the nuts in bulk. And if you live in California, Kansas, Missouri, or a southern state, search for fall pecan picking in your area.

Checkout our top recommended pecan recipes below

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Stuffed Mushroom with Pecans

・・・ These pecan stuffed mushrooms are the perfect bite size appetizer to serve at your next holiday gathering or game day viewing party! Simply stuff mushrooms with honeyed pecans and goat cheese for a flavorful starter dish! INGREDIENTS * 1 pound mushrooms (about 25 1.5-inch mushrooms) * 2 tablespoons butter * 2 tablespoons pecan or olive oil* * 1 shallot, minced about (1/4 cup) * 4 cloves garlic, minced * 1/2 cup pecan pieces * 1/4 cup parsley, minced * 1/4 panko breadcrumbs * 1/2 teaspoon salt * 1/4 teaspoon pepper * Honeyed Pecans * 25 pecan halves * 2 tablespoons honey * 1 teaspoon pecan or olive oil * Pinch of salt METHOD 1. Carefully break off stems. Chop stems extremely fine, discarding tough end of stems. 2. Heat butter over medium heat in a small skillet. Add in shallots, pecans, mushroom stems and garlic. Sauté until everything has softened. About 5 minutes. 3. Add warm ingredients to a medium sized mixing bowl and stir in goat cheese, parsley and breadcrumbs. 4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 5. Spread out mushroom caps on a large baking sheet. Working with one mushroom at a time brush both inside and outside with oil (or melted butter) and stuff with 1 teaspoon of pecan filling. Place on center rack and bake from 20 minutes. 6. While mushrooms are cooking: heat honey and olive oil and medium sized skillet over low heat. Add in pecan halves and stir until they are completely coated. Over medium-low heat, cook until pecans have taken on a slightly darker color, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from oven, and spread pecans onto a piece of parchment to cool. 7. Once mushrooms are cooked, top with candied pecans and serve immediately. Enjoy! Recipe notes: Can also use butter Calories 180 Fat 15g Sat Fat 4g Sodium 190mg Carbs 9g Fiber 2g Protein 5g

Source: @americanpecan

Pecan Banana Bread recipe.

INGREDIENTS * 1 cup raw pecan pieces + more for topping * Cooking spray for coating pan * 1 3/4 cup gluten free or regular baking flour mix * 1 teaspoon baking powder * 1/2 teaspoon baking soda * 1/2 teaspoon sea salt * 2 flax eggs or equivalent amount of egg replacer* or two eggs * 1 cup coconut sugar or other sugar * 1/2 cup coconut oil or pecan oil * 1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract * 1/2 cup plain soy yogurt or regular yogurt * 3/4 cup ripe mashed bananas* METHOD 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare your 9 x 5 banana bread pan by coating the inside of pan with cooking spray and then sprinkling with a bit of the flour mix. Set aside. 2. In a medium sized bowl, sift the 10 ounces (1 3/4 cup) of the flour mix, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt and whisk to combine. 3. In a mixer attachment bowl, add the flax eggs/egg replacer/egg, sugar and coconut oil. Mix together for about 2 minutes on medium-low speed. 4. Scrape the vanilla bean and add to the mixture. Add the soy yogurt and the mashed bananas and mix everything together for 2 more minutes on medium low speed, scraping down the sides and bottom to ensure everything is combined. 5. Add in 1/2 of the dry ingredients mixture, combine for 30 seconds, and then add in the rest of the dry ingredients mixture. Mix again for another 30 seconds, ensuring everything is combined. 6. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the raw pecan pieces into the batter until evenly distributed. The batter should be thick. 7. Add the batter to the banana bread pan and use your spatula to smooth down the top. Sprinkle some pecan pieces on top. 8. Bake the banana bread on the top shelf of your oven for 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. You don’t want it to come out clean, so watch your banana bread from about 50 minutes depending on your oven. 9. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan. Transfer the bread to a wire rack by placing the wire rack on top of the bread, then holding the sides of the pan and flipping it over and removing the pan. Hold the sides of the bread to turn right side up. You can also turn the pan over into your hand, and then flip right side up and place on a wire rack. 10. Allow the bread to cool completely. Slice as desired. Enjoy! Recipe notes: * Flax egg recipe: 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal mixed with 6 tablespoons water * Look for very ripe bananas – with dark or black skin Calories 200 Fat 11g Sat Fat 5g Sodium 120mg Carbs 25g Fiber 2g Protein 2g

Source: @americanpecan

Toasted Oat and Pecan Smoothie.

Pecans take center stage in this smoothie recipe along with oats, hints of banana, cinnamon, maple and vanilla for a nutritious breakfast that will start your morning with plant protein. INGREDIENTS * 1 cup raw pecan halves * 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats * 1 cup whole milk* * 1 cup whole Greek yogurt* * 2 bananas, cut into slices and frozen * 3 tablespoons maple syrup * 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon * 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract * Pinch of kosher salt * Grated nutmeg, for topping (optional) * Pecan pieces or pecan halves, chopped (optional) METHOD 1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Place oats and pecan halves on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake in the oven, stirring occasionally, until toasted and fragrant (12 to 15 minutes).  Let cool completely. 2. Add toasted oats and pecans to a blender, and blend until finely ground. Add milk, yogurt, frozen bananas, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla and a pinch of salt, then blend until smooth. Divide between 2 glasses and top with grated nutmeg and pecan pieces or pecan halves, chopped if using. Enjoy immediately.   Recipe Notes: 1. You may use lighter milk and yogurt if desired here. Calories 390 Carbs 39g Fat 24g Fiber 5g Sat Fat 5g Protein 11g Sodium 80mg

Source: @americanpecan

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