Crunchy, buttery and healthy, the pecan is one of the most popular tree nuts native to North America. There are a number of reasons to add pecans to your daily diet. Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B and E, fiber, magnesium, iron, protein and more. Pecans are a rich source of energy, antioxidants and healthy fats.
Pecans can also help to:
- promote digestive health
- boost heart health
- improve dental and bone health
- prevent muscle soreness
- act as an anti-inflammatory agent
- lower stroke and breast cancer risk
- decrease cholesterol
With a laundry list of benefits like that, there are few reasons not to incorporate pecans into your diet (a nut allergy being one of them). Assuming you're in the clear in that respect, eating more pecans can be as simple as grabbing a handful for a snack. However, if you'd like to get more creative, add them to desserts like pie, muffins, ice cream and baklava, make pecan butter to spread on bread or toast, or sprinkle them over a bowl of Greek yogurt for breakfast or lunch.
Here's a great, simple dinner recipe that combines lean, protein-packed chicken with the power of the pecan.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1/2 cup pecan halves or pieces
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
Working with one piece of chicken at a time, place between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even 1/4-inch thickness.
Place pecans, bread crumbs, orange zest, salt and ground chipotle in a food processor and pulse until the pecans are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish. Whisk egg white and water in a shallow dish until combined. Dip each chicken breast in the egg white mixture, then dredge both sides in the pecan mixture.
Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add half the chicken and cook until browned on the outside and no longer pink in the middle, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. Carefully wipe out the pan with a paper towel and add the remaining oil. Cook the remaining chicken, adjusting the heat as needed to prevent burning. Serve immediately.
Consult one of our registered nutritionists to learn more ways you can improve your diet.