Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Five Great Reasons to Cook With Pecans

April is National Pecan Month—offering a perfect opportunity to try some fresh, new recipes. Here, cookbook author and Southern foodie Susan Dosier shares a fresh crop of reasons to enjoy pecans -- year-round!

I love to cook with nuts! Talk about crunchy texture and good-for-you flavor-- nuts have it all! Toast them and their flavor intensifies. Chop them to add interesting texture. Yum! Through my work with the National Pecan Shellers Association, I've rediscovered how pecans particularly can add interesting texture to everything from salads to side dishes, to quick breads and more.  Here are my favorite five reasons to enjoy these all-American nuts every day.

1.They taste great—offering a buttery-sweet bite with a gentle crunch--perfect for kids and adults. Enjoy them in yummy pecan pies and baked goods… consider eating them as a healthy, guilt-free snack, too.

2. Pecans contain more antioxidants than any other nut variety. (Check out the stats at

3. Pecans help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. (For a video on the latest research, go to, or check out Nutrition in a Nutshell, the informative website of the National Pecan Shellers Association.)

4. A one-ounce serving (15 to 20 pecan halves) packs more than 19 vitamins and minerals and 10 percent of the recommended daily value for fiber.

5. Pecans are a natural, high-quality source of protein and naturally sodium free; they’re an environmentally friendly snack, too. Buy them in bulk and easily package them in re-usable, airtight containers ready to grab-and-go. No fussy packaging!

With spring ripening into summer, these recipes caught my eye at and will be used in my kitchen this month.

Spiced Pecans - Pack these for a picnic, after-soccer snack, or take them on your family vacation later this summer.  

Spiced Pecans, a treat for snacks!

Zucchini-Yogurt Multi-grain Muffins - I double the amount of pecans in this recipe and omit the raisins. This is a great way to load a busy morning with smart nutrition and staying power for the day ahead. 

Warm from the oven! Zucchini-Yogurt Multi-grain Muffins

Zucchini and Pecan Sauté - Spruce up your veggies. Kids will eat zucchini just to get at these pecans. And adults are pretty happy with them, too! (Switch the butter to olive oil if you want a healthful version.)

Zucchini and Pecan Sauté, the perfect side dish for chicken, fish and more

Cranberry-Pecan Salad - Sprinkle pecans on any of your favorite salads. Combined with the vitamin C in the dried cranberries and greens, this salad packs a terrific nutrition AND flavor punch.

Pecans add crunch to this colorful Cranberry-Pecan Salad

I’d love to hear what your favorite pecan recipes are! How do you leverage the health benefits of pecans and sneak some crunchy goodness into your day?