April is National Pecan Month 

April is National Pecan Month and a time to celebrate this delicious and versatile nut. While often associated with Thanksgiving and pies, pecans can be used across cuisines and throughout the seasons. Native to northern Mexico and the southern United States, the pecan is a nutrition powerhouse. 

Good things come in small packages. A one ounce serving of 15-20 pecan halves contains 196 calories. Pecans are loaded with high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and healthy omega 3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association designated pecans as a heart-healthy food choice as studies show the nut can help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. 

When buying pecans, look for plump pecans that are uniform in color and size. Pecans are available whole or shelled, in many sizes from mammoth to small pecan pieces. Unroasted and unsalted pecan halves are the best choice for snacking and for use in recipes. 

It is important to store pecans properly. While many people store nuts in the pantry, the best place for them is in the refrigerator or freezer to optimize their shelf life. Shelled pecans can be kept in the refrigerator for about nine months and for up to two years in the freezer. When storing in the refrigerator, keep in an airtight container, like a jar with a lid. Sealed plastic bags are best for storing pecans in the freezer. 

Interestingly, pecans can be thawed and refrozen repeatedly during the 2-year freezing period without a loss of flavor or texture. Once thawed, shelled pecans will stay good for an additional 2 months. 

When cooking or baking with pecans, it is fine to use them straight from the freezer, no thawing necessary. If using pecans as a condiment or a topping on an appetizer, entrée or cheese platter, bring the pecans to room temperature.

There are so many fun and tasty ways to enjoy pecans!

  • Stir chopped pecans into a bowl of cinnamon raisin oatmeal.
  • Roast pecans at 400`F for 10 minutes or until slightly brown. Roasting will enhance the naturally sweet caramel flavor. Roasted pecans can be tossed into fruit salads, chicken, or tuna salad or in leafy greens for an added crunch.
  • Or toss some roasted pecans with yogurt and fresh berries for a light breakfast or an afternoon pick me up. 
  • For a quick on-the- go snack or to power up the kids before a game, try these easy Pecan Bites. Made with dates, these bites are loaded with protein and fiber. 
  • This easy Brussels Sprouts recipe includes pecans and caramelized onions. It is a tasty side dish for any meat, poultry, or fish entrée. 
  • Sprinkle maple syrup and pecan pieces over acorn squash or try this easy Baked Acorn Squash recipe stuffed with dried fruits and nuts. 
  • Toss some pecans in this Trail Mix recipe. 
  • Add pecans to banana bread, blueberry muffins or pancake batter.
  • Sprinkle pecan bits over mashed sweet potatoes and sprinkle on a pinch of nutmeg.
  • Mix pecans into your favorite salsa or guacamole dip.
  • Stir-fry green beans with a splash of olive oil and toss in some pecans and shaved Parmesan cheese.
  • This Pecan Crusted Baked Chicken recipe offers up a healthy way to enjoy a crispy crust. 
  • Use pecans to make a twist on the traditional basil version or blend pecans with other fresh herbs such as cilantro, sage or rosemary for a pesto that pairs well throughout the seasons.

Celebrate Pecan Month this April with a crunch!

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