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Pecans - Not Just Another Nut Case!

My dad used to love to have pecan pie for his birthday instead of a birthday cake. In fact, the birthday before he passed away when he was in a convalescent home, I made him his usual pecan pie.

My mom was horrified to see him eat it BEFORE his meal! I had to laugh when other people in the convalescent center asked her, "Did you always eat dessert first?" Guess you can do those things when you've lived long enough to do what you want! : )

Never in all the years that we enjoyed pecan pie on his birthday did I realize how good pecans are for you. It was a once a year event in December.

Now, I wouldn't recommend going out and having a piece of pecan pie every day, altho wouldn't that be nice! I think the sugary stuff would kind of undo the good of the pecans! (I have pie on the brain – my fingers wanted to write piecans!)

Pecans - Definitely a Nutritious Snack to Munch On


After reading about how a study at the University of Florida found that pecans have tons of antioxidants that fight heart disease and cancer, and the Mayo Clinic's study says that pecans can help lower LDL (lousy) cholesterol – well, it makes sense to throw a handful of pecans into your diet every day.

Pecans have a substance in them called oleic acid, which is also in olive oil; pecans actually have more oleic acid than olive oil. Why is this important?

While researchers are still studying this theory, they have found that this substance can slow down the activity of the gene that causes breast cancer.

Not only do researchers say it helps with breast cancer, eating about 2 ounces of pecans seems to help with symptoms of non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. Prostate cancer cells were found to be killed by the vitamin E in pecans while healthy cells were left intact in a study at Purdue University.  They are still working on that also.

Seriously, Is There Anything a Pecan Can't Do?!


As I write this, I find myself thinking why not just say pecans help everything?! I guess I can't go that far, but add to the list diabetes, depression & memory problems that the omega 3's in pecans help fight against.

And pecans reduce the risk of blood clots & improves the lining of your arteries.

That's a whole lot of good that little ole nut could be responsible for! Actually, the FDA has come out and stated that "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, as a part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease." Pecans are one of the nuts included in the list.

The DASH Diet actually recommends 4-5 servings of nuts in your diet per week. A serving is about 1 1/2 ounces or 1/3 cup.

If you're looking to lose weight, other research showed that people who ate nuts 5 times a week had a lower BMI than those who only indulged in nuts 1 to 4 times a week.

Note to self: I've GOT to buy some pecans this week!

How to Use Pecan Flour or Pecan Meal (great flour replacement for the gluten-free person)


Another delicious way to incorporate those pecans into your diet is to make pecan flour or pecan meal. I've seen recipes that rave about putting pecan meal as a coating on pork chops or chicken instead of regular flour, as well as using it in cookies and other baked goods. Yumm!

You can buy pecan flour, or you can make it.

How to Make Pecan Flour (probably cheaper than buying it from a store)

Note: Sam's Club has a 32 oz bag of pecans for $13.88.

  • Wash about a pound (0.454 kg) of pecans in hot water.
  • Bring a medium-sized saucepan filled half full with water to a boil.
  • Add nuts and boil for 10 seconds. Drain the nuts in a colander.
  • Pour the nuts into a towel, and while patting dry, rub the nuts to remove the skins. Peel any remaining skins from the nuts.
  • Put 1/2 cup to 1 cup of nuts into a nut grinder. ( I saw a video of someone using a spice grinder for this; you might also try a Vitamix) Use a blender if you don't have any of these. Do not overgrind, or the oils released will turn the nuts into butter.
  • Put the nuts into a sifter, and sift into a bowl. If there are any nut pieces not ground up, place back into the grinder you used along with the rest of the remaining nuts and repeat the grinding process.
  • This flour can be used just like wheat flour. Store in an airtight container, and in the refrigerator, since the oils in the nuts can turn rancid. Lasts approximately a month.

All that being said about the nutritious value of pecans, if  you have a nut allergy, do not eat pecans, pecan flour or pecan meal.

P.S.  One of the BEST foods for controlling high blood pressure is BEETS. You may or may not like beets tho, and they sure can be a pain to fix, right? I’ve found the easiest way to eat beets is this way. 


Images Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Google Advanced Image Search


References:


Arseneau, Deb, M.S., R.D. Nuts for Nutrition, A Handful a Day Keeps the Cholesterol Away.  http://www3.ag.purdue.edu/counties/newton/Extension%20Homemakers/Nutritional%20Nuts.pdf

Durden Pecan. Health Benefits of Pecans. http://www.durdenpecan.com/health-benefits-of-pecans.htm

Mayo Clinic Staff. Dated February 4, 2011. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nuts/HB00085

Wolverton, Nicole. Pecan Meal Nutrution Information. Written December 29, 2010. http://www.livestrong.com/article/344939-pecan-meal-nutrition-information/








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