Healthy Living Blog

Pecan Month: Nuts Worthy of Healthy Praise!

Tina Miller, MS RDN, Food and Nutrition Expert, Integrative Health Professional. EMU Eagle Nutrition Services 160 Rackham Hall Ypsilanti, MI 48197, offering nutrition guidance, DEXA scans and BIA assessments. Contact us for more information: 734.487.6572 chhs_nutrition@emich.edu

 

When you think about eating nuts as part of a healthy diet images of walnuts or almonds often come to mind. But, we don’t often think of pecans as a “healthy” nut. In addition to being a delicious nut with a wide variety of culinary uses, the pecan is also a nutrient-rich power house. A serving of pecans (about one ounce, or 16 plump nut kernels) provides:

• More than 19 vitamins and minerals: Vitamin A, Vitamin E, B-vitamins including folic acid and thiamin, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc.
• A good source of fiber (3g/ounce) and virtually sodium-free (less than 1 mg per ounce).
• Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fat that support heart and brain health.
• Plant sterols that can help reduce blood cholesterol.
• A good source of plant-based protein and low in carbs (low sugar), promoting healthy weight.
• An excellent source of antioxidants that help reduce risk for Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome (and possibly other autoimmune diseases) and depression.
• Phytonutrients that reduce inflammation, helping ease pain from chronic disease like arthritis.
So, go ahead, top off that salad, yogurt or bowl of cereal with a handful of pecans and enjoy! And, occasionally, enjoy a pecan-rich sweet treat such as Date and Pecan Bread Pudding (made in minutes in our instant pot).
Date-Pecan Bread Pudding

Serves 8
Time: Hands-On 15 minutes, Pressure Cooker: 34 Minutes
Ingredients:
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups 2% Milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1 tsp. orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 ounces French bread (or multi-grain bread), cut into 1” cubes
3/4 cup chopped, pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Cooking spray

Directions:
1. Combine eggs, milk, sugar, brown sugar, orange juice, orange zest, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. Gently fold in bread cubes, dates and nuts.
2. Spray a 1 ½ quart soufflé dish with non-stick cooking spray and pour mixture into dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil (but do leave room for pudding to “poof”).
3. Place steam rack in inner pot of 6 or 8-quart instant pot (or other similar pressure cooker), making sure that handles are positioned upright for easy removal. Place soufflé dish on rack, pushing to one side and carefully pour the 5 ½ cups water between the soufflé dish and side of instant pot. Center soufflé dish.
4. Close and lock instant pot lid, turn the steam release handle to “sealing” position.
a. Press “Manual”
b. Select “High Pressure” and adjust time to 34 minutes pressure cooking.
5. When time is up, turn cooker off, carefully release steam, open pressure cooker and blot soufflé dish foil cover to remove excess water. Carefully remove using handles on rack (wearing rubber gloves – caution to not burn hands). Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Optional: drizzle with caramel sauce
3 Tablespoons water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup half-and-half

Combine 3 Tablespoons water and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat (do not stir). Gently boil 4 minutes or until sugar mixture is amber, “swirling” occasionally. Remove from heat, gradually add in 1/4 cup half-and-half, whisking until smooth (if necessary, return to low heat to dissolve caramel, stirring until smooth).
Recipe adapted from Instant Pot® Weekday Meals, Oxmoor House books.