Have you added pecans to your diet yet? “Apart from reducing the risk of heart disease and lowering LDL cholesterol levels, research has found an association with the consumption of pecans and other nuts and the reduced incidence of gallstones, reduced blood pressure, reductions in abdominal fat, decreased insulin resistance, and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes,” reports NMSU. But unlike other nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, people often only associate pecans with holiday treats like pecan pie. It’s time to think outside the box with this delicious superfood.

1. Toasted Pecan Coconut Smoothie

This healthy smoothie is so rich, creamy and decadent, you’ll almost be fooled into thinking you’re drinking a milkshake. Yet unlike milkshakes, this smoothie is exceptionally rich in metabolism-boosting, cholesterol-reducing monounsaturated fats. Plus, beyond giving this smoothie a creamy texture, the pecans also add lots of antioxidants, blood sugar-stabilizing fiber, and essential minerals. Finally, the toasted coconut takes this shake to the next level and truly gives it a sweeter flavor profile without actually requiring added sugar!

1 cup pecans
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup milk of your choice
1 cup organic yogurt, ideally Greek yogurt
1 frozen banana
1 cup vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp organic maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp toasted coconut chunks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until creamy. Enjoy!

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2. Apple Pecan Salad

Say goodbye to boring salads forever. Pecans give this salad some hefty crunch, while the apples provide digestion-enhancing fiber that keeps you feeling full and happy all afternoon long (say goodbye to that afternoon snack craving!). Paired with crisp, slightly spicy arugula greens, you’ve got a complex and delightful meal that will make you question why you didn’t add nuts to your salads before.

1/3 cup raw pecans
3 ounces organic arugula
3 ounces organic spinach
1 small apple, cored and diced

2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp maple syrup or organic honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk thoroughly. Set aside.

Assemble the salad by filling a bowl with the spinach and arugula, then tossing to mix. Garnish with the apples and nuts, drizzle with dressing, and enjoy!

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3. Pecan Linguine

Pecans in your pasta? Before you balk at the idea, give it some thought. It’s not an unusual concept, since popular pasta dishes like pesto often call for ingredients such as pine nuts and walnuts. In a similar vein, this linguine pasta comes smothered in a creamy sauce whose base is actually pecans. They give a nutty depth to this extra-rich comfort dish, but don’t let the richness fool you. This dish is bursting with immunity-supporting antioxidants from the nuts and whole-grain pasta, as well as satiating fiber that balances your blood sugar and keeps you satisfied. It’s also a great source of calcium and other key minerals, so you can rest easy in this easy-to-make indulgence that’s perfect for a fancy weekend dinner or a quick weekday lunch.

1 12-oz package whole-grain linguine noodles (for an added nutrient boost, try linguine made from black beans, soy beans, or similar ingredients)
1 1/2 cups raw pecans
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
1 tsp ground red pepper
1 15-oz. package of ricotta cheese
1 cup milk (dairy or plant based)
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 C grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the noodles as outlined on the package’s direction, as every brand is different. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, toss the pecans, garlic, red pepper, and oil in a frying pan and fry on medium heat until the pecans and garlic are fragrant and golden brown. Set aside a third of the pecan nut mixture.

Take the rest of the nuts, and add to a blender along with the cheese, milk, salt and pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Blend until creamy.

Place the linguine in a big serving bowl. Toss with the nut-and-cheese cream sauce. Garnish with the rest of the pecan nut mix and enjoy!

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