(Family Features) The holidays are filled with delicious food - from indulgent breakfasts to decadent desserts - but snacks can get overlooked. Spice up this holiday season with festive snacks that are perfect for a quick on-the-go bite or a taste of your favorite holiday dessert.
Although beloved in pie, pecans are a versatile nut that can be used beyond the pie shell - add them to a snack mix, incorporate them into granola or munch on them straight from the bag. Delicious and nutritious, 1 ounce of pecans offers 3 grams of plant-based protein and 3 grams of fiber, plus 12 grams of "good" monounsaturated fats and only 2 grams of saturated fat - perfect to power you through long days of holiday shopping.
This holiday season, nosh on a handful of these spiced Gingerbread Pecans for a sweet and savory snack while decorating the house or wrapping presents late at night, or set out a bowl for the family to enjoy.
You can also make snack-sized versions of your favorite holiday desserts to have on-hand when you're craving a quick and tasty treat. Chopped pecans add a flavorful and nutrient-dense crunch to these paleo-friendly No-Bake Pumpkin Pecan Pie Bites, while pecan halves provide a festive touch to these Reindeer Pecan Brownies.
Discover more nutritious, delicious and festive recipes at AmericanPecan.com.
Reindeer Pecan Brownies
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: 20 brownies
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon pecan or canola oil
- 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 20 raw pecan halves, cut in half
- 40 candy eyeballs
- 20 red chocolate candies
- 1/4 cup chocolate chip
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
- In large bowl, whisk melted butter, oil and sugar until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla extract; beat until mixture is thick and pale in color, about 1 minute.
- Sift in flour and cocoa powder. Add espresso powder, if desired, and salt. Using rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into butter mixture until just combined. Batter should be thick.
- Using 1-tablespoon cookie scoop, transfer batter to prepared mini muffin tin. Bake 13-15 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean, with some lingering crumbs.
- Add chocolate chips to heat-proof bowl; microwave until smooth and melted. Pour melted chocolate into sandwich bag and cut off small portion of one corner to use as tip. Use melted chocolate to "glue" on pecan antlers, candy eyeballs and red candy noses to brownies.
- Allow chocolate to set before transferring brownies to airtight container.
Note: Brownies will stay fresh for up to three days.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Yield: 2 cups (6 servings)
- 1 large egg white, beaten
- 2 cups raw pecan halves
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice blend
- 1 pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 300 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
- In large bowl, use fork to whisk beaten egg until frothy. Add pecans and stir until coated. Sprinkle pecans with granulated sugar, brown sugar, gingerbread spice and salt. Stir to coat evenly. Spread pecans in even layer on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake pecans 40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Allow pecans to cool completely.
Note: Pecans can be stored in airtight container for up to four days.
No-Bake Pumpkin Pecan Pie Bites
Prep time: 15 minutes
Chill time: 1 hour
Yield: 12 bites (6 servings)
- 1 1/2 cups raw pecan pieces
- 3/4 cup pitted medjool dates (about 7 dates), soaked in hot water 10 minutes
- 1 pinch pink salt
- 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 pinch pink salt
- 1 scoop collagen peptides (optional)
- 12 raw pecan halves, for topping
- To make crust: In food processor, process pecan pieces, drained dates and salt until combined and "dough" starts to form into ball.
- To make filling: In bowl, combine pumpkin puree, coconut milk, pumpkin spice, maple syrup, pink salt and collagen peptides, if desired. Whisk until smooth.
- Line cupcake tin and evenly distribute crust mixture, about 1 1/2 tablespoons in each cupcake opening. Use fingers to press crust into even layer.
- Evenly disperse pumpkin pie filling among openings until tins are about half full.
- Top each with one pecan half and place in freezer at least one hour.
Source: American Pecan Council
(Family Features) According to the “Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior,” studies have proven that eating meals together as a family can improve communication and relationships, which is especially important during times of uncertainty and life’s more difficult moments. Great-tasting foods like pork and pulses can be combined to bring families together with quality nutrition, which helps bodies survive and thrive.
Pulses are the nutritionally dense, edible seeds of legumes including dry peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. Together with pork, this pairing provides critical nutrients to support weight management and immune function, along with plenty of protein – providing all nine essential amino acids – fiber, B vitamins, zinc, iron, potassium, selenium and folate.
As part of the Powerful Pairings initiative, launched by the National Pork Board and USA Pulses in an effort to promote pairing whole foods to bring taste, balance and nutrition to the center of the plate, these recipes for Green Chili Jack Smash Burgers, Cuban Black Beans and Pork Chops with Smashed Yellow Peas and Black-Eyed Pea Gravy encourage a nutritious way to enjoy fresh taste.
Find more information, resources and recipes at powerfulpairings.com.
Green Chili Jack Smash Burgers
Recipe courtesy of the National Pork Board and USA Pulses
- 1 pound ground pork
- 4 tablespoons red onion, scrubbed with vegetable brush under running water and finely minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 1 cup cooked black-eyed peas, drained
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional, to taste
- 4 slices Jack cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, scrubbed with vegetable brush under running water and sliced thin
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Charred Green Chili Mayo:
- 1 can (3 ounces) diced green chilies
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 green onions, gently rubbed under cold running water and finely sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, gently rubbed under cold running water and chopped
- 4 hamburger buns
- 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 head lettuce, gently rubbed under cold running water
- In large bowl, mix ground pork, onion, garlic and chili powders. Add black-eyed peas and salt; mix well. Form into four loosely packed balls and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
- To make Caramelized Onions: In large skillet over medium-high heat, warm butter. Add onions, water and salt; cook, stirring, until onions soften and turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- To make Charred Green Chili Mayo: Place green chilies in hot cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, turning, until chilies begin to soften and turn black. Remove from heat and place in small bowl. Add mayonnaise, garlic and lime juice; whisk to blend. Add green onions and cilantro; stir well and refrigerate.
- To make burgers: Warm cast iron or nonstick griddle pan over medium-high heat. Place pork balls on hot skillet; flatten with heavy metal spatula. Season with salt, to taste. Cook approximately 3 minutes; flip and cook 2-3 minutes until internal temperature reaches 145 F.
- Lightly toast buns. Place each burger on toasted bun with slice of cheese, Caramelized Onions, Charred Green Chili Mayo, avocado and lettuce.
Pork Chops with Smashed Yellow Peas and Black-Eyed Pea Gravy
Recipe courtesy of the National Pork Board and USA Pulses
- 2 cups yellow split peas, cooked and drained
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, softened butter, divided
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional, to taste
- 4 pork chops
- pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, gently rubbed under cold running water and diced
- 1 can black-eyed peas with juice
- 1/8 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- In medium bowl, use fork or potato masher to mash peas. Stir in 1/4 cup butter, cream and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Season pork chops with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
- In large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add pork chops to pan and cook approximately 4 minutes per side, or until they reach internal temperature of 145 F. Remove pork chops from pan; keep warm.
- In same pan, add remaining butter, onion and black-eyed peas. Cook 2-3 minutes until warm throughout, scraping pan. Add flour and season with salt and pepper, to taste. While stirring, slowly add milk.
- Serve mashed peas topped with pork chops and black-eyed pea gravy.
Cuban Black Beans
Recipe courtesy of Carolina Molea on behalf of the National Pork Board and USA Pulses
- 1 quart water
- 1 green bell pepper, scrubbed with vegetable brush under running water and diced, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, divided
- 1 cup dried black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 slices bacon, diced
- 1/2 Spanish onion, scrubbed with vegetable brush under running water and diced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- Fill large pot with water. Add 1/2 diced green pepper, two garlic cloves, beans and bay leaf. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 hour.
- In skillet over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. Add bacon; cook, turning, until bacon starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Add remaining green pepper and onion; cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
- Chop remaining garlic cloves. Add to skillet with oregano, cumin and black pepper. Stir 1 minute. Pour in vinegar, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan with wooden spoon.
- When beans are cooked, discard bay leaf. Transfer 1 cup beans to blender; blend to make paste. Return blended beans to large pot. Add bacon mixture and sugar. Stir well; bring to boil over medium heat. Lower heat, simmer and cook, uncovered, 20 minutes, skimming foam from top.
Source: National Family Meals Month