Tag Archives: nuts

Pecans: Pecan Pie and Beyond

Pecans More than Pecan Pie

PecanpeekingShellimages
 Traditional pecan pie may have met its match because creative cooks are introducing new ways to showcase pecans.

IMG_6526
Soup made with pureed pecans and chipotle peppers

They can literally be used from soup to nuts. Gathered at a culinary event in the Serenbe Farms community south of Atlanta organized by the National Pecan Shellers Association (NPSA) professional chefs rose to the recipe challenge.

IMG_6538

Think beyond sugar laden pecan pies and pecan praline candies. “Europeans often ask me ‘why is it you take such a healthy product and turn it into such an unhealthy product?’ so I’m very interested in the recipes developed here,” said Bruce Caris, of the Green Valley Pecan Company and chairman of the NPSA.

IMG_6548

PecansUnknown

The second culinary challenge- rather than relying on perfect pecan halves – invent sweet and savory dishes using pecan pieces and pecan meal. “We need to educate culinarians how to use the lesser known pecan ingredients,” said Christian Hallowell, executive chef for Delta Air Lines.

IMG_6533
Executive Chef Christian Hallowell, Delta Airlines

Pick up the Pieces

 

IMG_6512

Some of the first recipes demonstrated by Leif Eric Benson, chef for Oregon’s Department of Agriculture included a soup of pureed pecan pieces flavored with chipotle peppers and roasted lamb with a topping of pecan pieces cooked with garlic and thyme.

IMG_6589
Leif Eric Benson, chef for Oregon’s Department of Agriculture

Chefs, in a cook-off style contest worked together in teams at Serenbe’s Bosch Experience Center to create exciting new recipes with pecans and pecan products including pecan meal and pecan oil.

IMG_6559 IMG_6560 IMG_6561

“Pecan pieces are very absorbent and pick up the flavors of spices when cooking,” said Benson.

tacoUnknown

Other inventive uses in the culinary world include using pecan meal as a meat extender or substitute. “Pecans can be used as a protein ingredient and we made a meatless all pecan pate today,” said Hallowell. “You roast and grind the pecan pieces to make a plant based protein dish.”

How about a pecan inspired cocktail? I made ginger ale from scratch using fresh ginger root, added sugar and fresh lime juice and then used Cathead Distillery Pecan Vodka to create a Pecan Mississippi Mule!

IMG_6591

 

IMG_6548
Winning team: Trent Page, Google, Carolyn O’Neil and Keith Schroeder founder High Road Craft Ice Cream

Trent Page, chef for Google at the company’s You Tube headquarters, created a recipe for a miso pecan vinaigrette salad dressing using pecan pieces and pecan oil.But, when making menu changes affecting thousands of employees, he’s aware allergies must be considered. “You have to be transparent in menu signage because tree nut allergies are very serious,” said Page. Here’s a great resource on tree nut allergies

PecansRoastedBrussels

Of course we made dessert! Pastry chef extraordinaire Kami Smith of Dawn Food Products quietly worked her magic to create a pecan desserts including a sumptuous pecan bread budding!

IMG_6568

 

IMG_6596

Pecan Nut-rition

PecanonTreeimages

Pecans, like other tree nuts including walnuts and almonds, are an excellent source of heart healthy fats, are rich in protein and a good source of fiber as well as other nutrients including vitamin E and potassium. What sets pecans apart from the rest of the nut pack is that they are the only nut native to North America and compared to other tree nuts have the highest concentration of antioxidants. Pecans are a win-win for taste and health.

pecanpilgrimsimages

OK, now you can have a piece of pie!
PecanPieimages

 

 

 

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Eat the Whole Thing!

Whole Lot of Flavor: My recipe for Georgia Pecan Confetti Quinoa
with yellow squash, zucchini and carrots!
Recipe Below

Whether it’s snacking on a granola bar made with whole grain oats, ordering a whole-wheat hamburger bun or choosing the sushi made with brown rice, it’s getting easier to enjoy healthy whole grains in your favorite foods. Chefs and home cooks are giving side dishes a whole grain makeover too as mashed potatoes and egg noodles get pushed aside in favor of couscous, quinoa and whole-wheat pastas.
See the Grains section of My Plate? Make half your grains whole grains for good health.
That’s a good thing since U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that  all Americans eat at least half their grains as whole grains–that’s at least 3 to 5 sixteen-gram servings a day for most of us. Nutrition advice to eat the “whole” thing is based on evidence that diets that are rich in whole grains and low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol can help promote proper digestion and reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.  Whole grains may also play a role in insulin management and weight control when eaten as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. So, whole grains have a whole lot to offer!
Had Whole Grains Today?

So, have you had your whole grain breakfast granola cereal today? How about a slice of pizza on a whole-wheat crust? If your answer is “yes”, then you’re doing pretty well – since according to The Whole Grains Council most folks consume only one serving of whole grain per day and over 40 % of Americans never eat whole grains at all!

But, that may be changing as whole grain options move to center stage for delicious meals and satisfying snacks. For example, all of Sunbelt Bakery’s tasty granola and fruit & grain bars have at least 4 grams of whole grains. Some have as many as 9 grams.    

Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bar with whole grain oats
from Sunbelt Bakery with a glass of fat free milk.

 

Also, all Sunbelt Bakery products are made without any preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. Their fun flavor varieties include chocolate chip and banana, and their Family Pack bars are just the right size for portion control. And because they are delivered to communities each week, Sunbelt Bakery’s snacks and cereals have a bakery-fresh taste. It’s great to feel good about this win-win for taste and nutrition!

What’s a Whole Grain?

Whole grains, or foods made from them, contain all of the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed.  A whole grain is made up of three layers–the bran, the germ and the endosperm. If the grain has been cracked, crushed, rolled or milled into flour and the proportions of the three layers remain the same, then it contains the same balance of nutrients found in the original grain seed.

Add a sprinkling of crunchy whole grains for fitness, fiber and fun.
Greek yogurt “parfait” with berries and Sunbelt Bakery granola cereal
 What Counts as Whole Grain?

Some examples of whole-grain ingredients include buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, brown or wild rice, whole-grain barley, whole rye, and whole wheat. That’s a whole LOT of choices. And remember you can mix things up. Try half white rice and half brown rice or other rice and grain blends. 

All Sunbelt Bakery bars, for instance, are made with whole grain oats or whole grain wheat.  One my favorites is Sunbelt Bakery’s Golden Almond Chewy Granola Bar. They’re only 130 calories and contain 6 grams of whole grains per bar.

Disclosure for this post: I am thrilled to serve as the official Registered Dietitian for Sunbelt Bakery. Though I am compensated, all views and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own, and are based on my knowledge and experience as a Registered Dietitian. 


RECIPE: 
Georgia Pecan Confetti Quinoa

Quinoa is a delicious gluten-free grain that cooks up light and fluffy like rice but contains more protein. This super side dish recipe featuring confetti colored sprinklings of orange, green and yellow veggies is flavored with garlic and rosemary. Crunchy Georgia pecans add even more great taste and nutrition because pecans are a super source of heart healthy fats and antioxidants. 

By Carolyn O’Neil, MS RD co-author The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!

Yield: 6 half-cup servings 

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil

½ cup diced carrots

½ cup diced zucchini squash

½ cup diced yellow squash

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups cooked quinoa (prepared to package directions)

¼ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves

¼ cup toasted pecan halves or pieces (reserve 2 Tablespoons for garnish) 

Preparation:

Heat oil in large skillet and add carrots, zucchini, yellow squash and garlic. Cook until crisp tender. Fold in the cooked quinoa, rosemary and pecans. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Present quinoa on a large platter and garnish with additional toasted pecans.




Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Recalculating Calories for Almonds

Down on the farm, well orchard to learn about California almonds.

When is a 100-calorie pack not a 100-calorie pack? When it’s filled with almonds.
The calorie count for California almonds turns out to be 20 percent lower than previously measured according to new studies conducted by nutrition scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). So, that 100-calorie pack of dry roasted almonds you might grab to snack on actually contains 80 calories. 
Nutrition researcher Sarah Gebauer gets out of the USDA lab to grab almonds in the orchard.
The almonds are not any different, but the way the USDA calculates calorie content is new and improved.  
California almonds ready to harvest in Lodi. You can snack right from the tree.
Historically, samples of food are burned in the lab to measure the amount of heat given off which is measured in calories. Now USDA researchers have enlisted the help of human volunteers at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center to determine the number of calories actually digested and absorbed from almonds as part of typical American meals. 

Mmmm toasted almond and heirloom tomato crostini 
“We are excited to have this approach to look at calories in a mixed diet,” says David Baer, PhD who led the research published this month in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “How we count calories is an important issue as we look forward.”
Recalculating

“Recalculating. Recalculating.”  That’s what you may hear from an auto’s GPS system when you drive off the suggested route.  USDA nutrition experts are recalculating too.  Their new course is a bit more complicated because measuring digestion and absorption in human volunteers means collecting samples of feces, “It’s a dirty job but somebody’s got to do it,” says Baer. The analysis revealed that the fat in almonds is not absorbed as easily as fat in other foods due to the nut’s fiber content.  

Almonds in the Stewart & Jasper Orchard processing plant in Newman, CA.
 “Fat is stored inside the cell walls,” explains Chris Rosenbloom, registered dietitian and professor emerita of nutrition at Georgia State University, “If the cell walls are not completely broken down through chewing and normal digestion then not all of the fats, therefore not all of the calories, will be available to the body. So, foods, like almonds, that are high in fiber and a ‘hard’ nut, actually have fewer calories based on the usual calculations.” (Similar studies with pistachios conducted by the same research team found five percent fewer calories than previously measured.) Can Georgia pecans be far behind? 

Food labels may need updating to lower calorie counts on hard nuts  such as almonds.
The Skinny on Almonds

Another diet discovery – even though subjects were fed meals designed to maintain their weight during the USDA study and were consuming about 70 almonds a day – many lost weight because the available amount of calories was actually 100 or 150 calories fewer per day because 20 percent of the nut was not being digested.  Rosenbloom says she’s always recommended almonds for health benefits, “So if you avoid almonds because of the calories, you should think again. Almonds can help you feel full longer so are good food to include for weight management.”

Jim Jasper is super creative with almond products. Coconut cream Pie and Key Lime Pie flavors! 
Also worth noting, scientists report that the more almonds are chewed up or chopped into slivers or pureed into almond butter, the easier they are to digest and therefore higher the ultimate calorie count.

“This new research opens the door for scientists to take a fresh look at how the body uses the energy stored in foods,” says Rosenbloom. “So, a calorie may not be calorie -at least as far as the food label goes.”

Baer reports that other commodity groups are clamoring to have their foods retested so it’s a busy time at the Beltsville lab, “My colleagues are going nuts.”

I’m nuts for these savory flavors of almonds. Perfect for Happy Hour. I’m happy almonds contain fewer calories.

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest