Did you know that pecans have more anti-oxidants than any other tree nut? Research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirms that pecans are highest in antioxidants among all tree nuts, and are in the top tier of foods rich in antioxidants. Researchers analyzed 277 different foods and found that pecans rank highest among all nuts in antioxidant capacity, and rank in the top 20 in antioxidant capacity among the 277 foods analyzed in the study.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring substances which protect against the harmful effects of free radicals, which are produced in the body from normal metabolism (some are also encountered in the environment). Antioxidants can help fight diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer and heart disease.
Clinical research studies have confirmed that eating about a handful of pecans daily may help lower your risk of heart disease and help lower cholesterol. Further, pecans contain at least 19 vitamins and minerals and contain heart-healthy unsaturated fat and no trans fat.
You can sneak more pecans into your diet by sprinkling them on your yogurt, on top of your salads, on top of sweet potatoes, acorn squash, and other vegetables, and adding them to your favorite brownie or cookie recipes. Liberty Market has organic pecans and other nuts at their grocery at Woodman Drive and Patterson Road in Kettering.
How about some pecan sandies for a treat? These cookies are not difficult to make and they absolutely melt in your mouth!
• 1 cup pecans
• 2 cups all-purpose flour-divided
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
• 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• ½ cup pecan halves or large broken pieces
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Toast the pecans (optional but this really kicks up the flavor): spread the pecans out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 10 to 12 minutes (they will smell fragrant and toasted). Set the pan on a wire rack to cool.
Finely chop the cooled nuts. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the vanilla and beat well. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder, and add it to the dough, mixing until just combined; stir in the nut mixture.
Form the dough into roll (log), wrap in waxed paper and chill for at least 3 hours. After chilling, use a sharp knife to cut the dough into slices and place them 1-inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets* Gently press pecan halves or bits onto the top of the cookies and bake until very light brown, about 10 minutes (check after about 8 minutes). Cool on a wire rack.
*If you re-roll the scraps they will make tough, crumbly cookies, so just put the scraps on the cookie sheet and bake, if you like (or feed the scraps to the birds).
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