Delicious and Healthy, Fresh, Local Pecans

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Fall is the season for everything pecans!! The pecan is the “original” supernut, especially in the south. Pecan trees are abundant all-over eastern North Carolina and soon to be dropping in abundance. The much sought after nut is a complex whole food, packed with multiple health-promoting nutrients and bioactive compounds. Each delicious pecan is a nutrition powerhouse.

Raw pecans are packed with protein, healthy fats, and fiber that help keep you energized and satisfied. Pecans are a good source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which help lower blood pressure. Most of the fat found in pecans is a healthy type called monosaturated fat.

Although pecan pie is a favorite for many, including me, the mighty nut can be featured in main dish recipes as well. Give some of these sweet and savory recipes featuring pecans.

Make pecans a part of your diet with these tasty recipes.

Lightened Up Pecan Pie

1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in coconut oil. Stir in the brown sugar, white sugar and the flour; mix well. Last add the milk, vanilla, and nuts.

Pour into an unbaked 9-inch pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until done.

Serves 10, each serving contains: Calories 342, Fat 21 g, Carbohydrates 45 g, Protein 4 g.

Easy Homemade Pecan Popcorn

2-3 cups popcorn, popped
2 tablespoons 100 percent pure maple syrup
¼ cup pecans, chopped
Date sugar, to taste (about half a teaspoon)

Evenly distribute maple syrup over the popcorn. Mix in the pecans and sprinkle with date sugar to taste.

Serves 1, this serving contains: Calories 380, Fat 21 g, Cholesterol 10mg, Carbohydrates 48 g, Protein 5 g, Fiber 1 g.

Sweet Potato Casserole (with no additional sugar)

7 cups cubed peeled sweet potatoes (2 pounds)

½ cup reduced-fat milk

5 tablespoons butter, melted, divided

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

½ cup chopped pecans

¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

¼ cup chopped dried fruit, such as cherries, dates, raisins or currants

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bring an inch or two of water to a boil in a large pot fitted with a steamer basket. Add sweet potatoes, cover and steam until very soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove basket and discard water.

Return sweet potatoes to the pot. Add milk, 4 tablespoons butter, salt, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon and pepper; mash until desired consistency. Transfer to a 1½-quart baking dish.

Stir pecans, pepitas, dried fruit and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter together in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the sweet potatoes.

Bake casserole until hot and the nuts are lightly toasted, 20 to 30 minutes.

Serves 8, each serving contains; Calories 217, Fat 15 g, Cholesterol 20 mg, Carbohydrates 20 g, Protein 4 g, Fiber 4 g, Sodium 324 mg, Potassium 455 mg.

Pecan Pie Bars

1¼ cups flour

½ cup powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup chopped pecans

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup light-colored corn syrup

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. For crust, combine flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry blender cut in ½ cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pat crumb mixture into an ungreased 11x7x1- ½-inch baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, for filling, stir together eggs, pecans, brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, and vanilla in another bowl. Spread evenly over baked crust.

Bake about 20 minutes more or until filling is set. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 24 bars. Cover and store in the refrigerator.

Serves 24, each serving contains; Calories 152, Fat 9 g, Cholesterol 28 mg, Carbohydrates 18 g, Protein 2 g, Fiber 1 g, Sodium 74 mg, Potassium395 mg.

Yummy Yogurt with Nuts and Berries

4 cups Plain Greek yogurt

2 cups berries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, or raspberries

4 Tbsp. Raw Honey

1 cup Pecans or walnuts

Arrange this simple dessert by layering yogurt and berries and pecans, repeat, and drizzle some honey on top.

Serves 4, each serving contains; Calories 392, Fat 19 g, Cholesterol 10 mg, Carbohydrates 37 g, Protein 23 g, Fiber 4 g, Sodium 73 mg.

Stuffed Apple Crisp

2 medium apples

4 teaspoons light brown sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 pinches salt

¼ cup all-purpose flour (you can use almond flour)

¼ cup rolled oats

2 tablespoons chopped pecans

2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch square metal baking pan with cooking spray.

Cut apples in half horizontally. Use a melon baller or small spoon to scoop out the flesh of each apple half, leaving about 1/8-inch-thick shell. Remove and discard the seeds and core; reserve the flesh. Place the apple halves in the prepared baking pan.

Finely chop the apple flesh; transfer to a medium bowl. Add 2 teaspoons brown sugar, vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 pinch of salt. Stir well. Divide among the apple halves (about 1/4 cup each).

Combine flour, oats, pecans, the remaining 2 teaspoons brown sugar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and remaining pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles small pebbles. Mound about 1/4 cup topping onto each apple. Bake until the apples are tender and the tops are browned, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serving size, 1 apple, each serving contains; Calories 186, Fat 8 g, Cholesterol 15 mg, Carbohydrates 27 g, Protein 2 g, Fiber 4 g, Sodium 119 mg.

Keto Pecan Brittle

(For an adventure)

1 1/4 Cup Raw Pecans or toasted

1/2 Cup Granulated Erythritol (I believe that you can substitute monk fruit)

1/4 Cup Butter Salted

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, gradually stir in the granulated erythritol. Cook for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and pecans. Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet and use a rubber spatula to spread the mixture in an even layer.

Let cool at room temperature and then transfer to the refrigerator for 1 hour before cutting into pieces and serving.

Serves 12, each serving contains, Calories 166, Fat 11 g, Cholesterol 10 mg, Carbohydrates 1 g, Sodium 33 mg.