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Shelling Pecans by Amanda Please

Shelling Pecans by Amanda Please

 

 

My grandmother came bearing gifts during her visit this weekend. My family knows the way to my heart is through food, and her gift of freshly shelled pecans made me extremely happy. Although I love all nuts, pecans really steal the show in my opinion. Maybe my prejudice began during childhood when my parents bundled me up, and we picked pecans for what seemed like an eternity. The duty was literally backbreaking, but fortunately at the age of 7 I wasn’t too far from the ground. That didn’t keep me from being jealous of my grandfather’s nifty contraption that not only allowed him to pick pecans fully erect, but it enabled him to pick more quickly than me. Oh what matters to children. 

But the hard work always reaped meaty, sweet pecans that my mother used in desserts or just simply roasted with butter and salt as a snack for her hungry kiddos. This never-ending-supply of pecans lifestyle didn’t last forever, because we moved to a new town and our new home had no trees, much less pecan trees. I missed them, but looked forward to them every year when my grandparents would give us a gallon bag. When I got really bad cravings for that nutty goodness, I would buy the detestable plastic-wrapped version filled with rancid pecans. Of course, this left me rather miserable, and I generally stay of away from these pecans.

So, this weekend, my grandmother’s simple gift of pecans sparked the same childhood enthusiasm I experienced so many years ago. The pecans have been sitting in my refrigerator for 5 days now. I’ve chopped the pecans and put them in oatmeal or cereal, and I’ve savored them plain–truly appreciating their bold flavor and meaty texture. I want to use them in recipes, but it’s hard to becauseI want to eat them raw and savor them one at  a time.  Did you know that pecans are the only major nut tree that grows naturally in America? Probably not, but cool huh!  If you have any pecan recipes that may sway me from just eating them raw, let me know.

Other than being extremely delicious, pecans are highly nutritious. 

– Pecans have a significant amount of Vitamin E, an antioxidant, that may help inhibit unwanted oxidation of blood lipids and prevent coronary heart disease. When the bad cholesterol, LDL, is oxidized, it is more likely to build up and clog arteries. 

– A pecan-rich diet promotes lower cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol. 

– Pecans are packed with good fats–60% monounsaturated and 30% polyunsaturated.

– Pecans contain 19 vitamins and minerals– including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins and zinc.

–  Pecans have fiber. One ounce of pecans provides 10 percent of the recommended Daily Value for fiber.

– Pecans are also a natural, high-quality source of protein that contain very few carbohydrates and no cholesterol.

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