Why We’re Happily Going Nutty: Pecans, the Southern Superfood

PecansIs there anything more Southern than pecan pie? Well, perhaps; but this versatile tree nut can be used in savory dishes, too. Observe the classic North Georgia favorite—pecan-crusted trout. How about pecan and sausage stuffing, pecan pilaf, or pecan chicken stir fry? Pecans are more than just deliciously versatile; they’re also packed with nutrition, delivering a powerful dose of vitamins and minerals that are as pleasing to your health as their flavor is to the palate. Studies suggest that just a small handful of pecans eaten daily can help lower cholesterol and improve heart health. They may also help with weight control, as their healthy monounsaturated fats and high protein content improves satiety even on a lower-calorie diet.

Southerners, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were both partial to pecans; President Washington frequently carried them in his pockets and President Jefferson dedicated part of his time to their cultivation on his plantation, Monticello. Pecans have long been a central part of the diet of American Indians in the central and southern regions of the United States.

Like all nuts and seeds, pecans are relatively calorie-dense, so serving sizes should stay small. But they are fabulously healthy and delicious when roasted, put into pies, mixed with cayenne and salt for a savory snack, topped over ice cream and other desserts, baked into brownies, sprinkled on salads, or used as a crust for roasted meats. However you eat them or pronounce them, enjoy your pecans this fall!