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April Wellness Wisdom

This is Peg Christenson, Registered Nutrition & Dietetic Technician, from Hutchinson Health with Wellness Wisdom. April is National Pecan Month so be sure to try a handful of these delicious tree nuts! Did you know that pecans are the only tree nut that grows naturally in North America? The name “pecan” is a Native American word of Algonquin origin that was used to describe “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.” It is said that Native Americans first cultivated the pecan tree. (https://tinyurl.com/yxavcfb2)

I remember visiting a pecan farm when I lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Pecan harvesting is fascinating! Machines called shakers hold and shake the trees causing the nuts to fall on the ground. Next a sweeping machine picks up the pecans; ejecting debris out the back of the machine. Pecans are more popular than ever being used in cereal, granola, breads, pies, salads, sandwich fillings, ice cream, as a coating for fish, as a snack, along with many other applications. In fact, today I had Pecan Crusted Tilapia for lunch and it was fabulous!

Pecans are chock full of goodness  ; containing more than 19 vitamins and minerals and touted as highest in antioxidants of all nuts by the USDA. (USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference) Pecans are sodium free, provide fiber and are also rich in protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats; all great reasons to enjoy a handful. Pecans are also calorie dense, so only one to two ounces a day is recommended.  20 halves = 1 ounce.

The FDA reviewed nut nutrition and states “Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” (https://tinyurl.com/y3hzdchy) 

When buying pecans, look for plump pecans that are uniform in color and size. To keep pecans fresh and flavorful keep in airtight containers, such as jars with lids, if storing in the refrigerator. Sealed plastic bags are best for storing pecans in the freezer. Shelled pecans can be kept in the refrigerator for about nine months and for up to two years in the freezer.

So try to work this powerhouse of a nut into your menus or just as a snack and enjoy all the great benefits. The recipe below is from https://ilovepecans.org. Be sure you check out their 75th Anniversary Cookbook. Happy National Pecan Month! Who knows maybe you’ll be nutty for nuts like me!

Sources used: ilovepecans.org, USDA, and FDA

Pecan Granola Parfait

Ingredients

·         2 cups Greek yogurt

·         4 Tbsp. honey

·         2 cups strawberries, sliced

·         1 cup pecan nut crunch (recipe follows)

 

Pecan Nut Crunch

·         1 cup pecan halves

·         1 cup almonds, sliced

·         1 cup pumpkin seeds

·         ½ cup sunflower seeds

·         ¼ cup chia seeds

·         6 Tbsp. maple syrup

·         1 tsp. vanilla extract

·         1 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

1.        In a large bowl, combine the nuts and seeds. Drizzle with maple syrup and vanilla extract. Sprinkle with cinnamon and toss until well coated.

2.        Spray a parchment lined baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread the nut mixture in a single layer onto the baking sheet.

3.       Bake in a preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown, being careful not to burn the nuts. Remove the nut crunch from the oven and let cool.

4.       To serve Pecan Nut Crunch, break into pieces and enjoy!

Recipe from ILovePecans at https://ilovepecans.org/pecan-granola-parfait/

 

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