I am a northern girl, born and raised.... I grew up on baked beans, pot roast, and rhubarb. If there was a cookie, bread, or candy that contained nuts in it, you could bet they were walnuts. I can honestly say that I don't think I had ever tasted a pecan until I graduated college and moved to Texas! Then, one day, my neighbor shows up at my door with a huge brown grocery bag FULL of pecans still in their shells just waiting to be cracked open and enjoyed! Being the poor and hungry grad student family that we were, I was thrilled...until I started shelling them! After a few dozen, my fingers were all torn up and I had already reached the point of never wanting to see another pecan as long as I lived!
Well, this northern girl now lives in the state of Georgia and the city of Albany, GA is the pecan capital of the entire world with more than 600,000 pecan trees. I am pretty sure that the mere mention of putting walnuts in anything is a hanging offense in these parts! So, what's a girl to do? Since I am all about supporting the local economy, I will be buying lots of pecan gifts for my family this holiday season!
In a side by side taste test, there is a definite difference between the two...I find that pecans are a little sweeter and more mild whereas the walnuts are earthier tasting with a bit more of a bite to them. After 12 years of living in Georgia I can happily eat both of them, although pecans are definitely cheaper.
There are a lot of health benefits to eating pecans. So, why should you consider adding a few of them to your next batch of trail mix?
- Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals
- One ounce of pecans provides 10 percent of the recommended Daily Value for fiber
- Pecans are also naturally sodium-free
- Nearly 60 percent of the fats in pecans are monounsaturated (ie. the heart healthy kind!)
- Recent studies suggest that pecans may aid in weight loss and maintenance
- Pecans contain plant sterols, which are known for their cholesterol-lowering ability.
- Research suggests that the pecan's high antioxidant capacity may decrease the risk of cancer, coronary heart disease, and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
So, what kind of things can you make with pecans? Try the classic pecan pie or candied pecans...use them in fried rice or throw them on top of a salad, grind them up and use as part of the breading on your fish or chicken breast...the possibilities are endless!
And another benefit of upping the pecan content of your diet? You may even improve your love life! Pecans are very high in zinc, which plays a big role in the production of testosterone – a key hormone in initiating sexual desire in both men and women.
So, which team do YOU belong to? Are you a fan of pecans or do you prefer walnuts? Do you have any favorite recipes you like to throw a handful of nuts into?