By Karen Borsari

Packed with protein, fiber, heart-healthy fats, and 19 vitamins and minerals make pecans a part of your diet with these tasty recipes from an unexpected soup to a pecan pie that has almost half the calories and fat of a traditional recipe.

Chevre Stuffed Peppers with Pecans

These vegetarian stuffed peppers make a gorgeous presentation at a dinner party but are easy enough to make on a weeknight.

Serves: 4

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients:

4 large jarred red roasted peppers

4 oz mild soft goat cheese, like Belle Chevre

¼ cup basil leaves, chiffonade

1/4 cup pecans, toasted

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat to 450 degrees. Place the peppers on a cutting board and open each one by making a slit in one side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread a spoonful of goat cheese down the center. Evenly distribute the basil, pecans, and raisins on top, reserving a small bit of each for garnish.

Fold each pepper over to close and press gently. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the goat cheese is bubbling. Arrange on a plate to serve, garnishing with basil, pecans and raisins.

Nutritional score per stuffed pepper:

Calories: 202

Fat: 14g

Saturated fat: 5g

Cholesterol: 13mg

Sodium: 231mg

Potassium: 127mg

Carbohydrates: 12g

Fiber: 1.8g

Sugar: 9.3g

Protein: 6.7g

Recipe courtesy of Tasia Malakasis, Belle Chevre.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Schamban

Buttery Cinnamon Pecans

Forget the fatty cinnamon roll and enjoy these flavorful pecans instead. The lightly buttered pecans are just as satisfying without the guilt. Plus, they're gluten-free and low glycemic.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1/2 pound pecans

1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil for vegans

1/8 teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan salt, or more to taste

1/4 teaspoon sweet leaf stevia, or more to taste

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roast pecans for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on size.

2. Melt ghee or oil in saucepan large enough to hold pecans after roasted.

3. Blend in the remained of ingredients and set aside.

4. Toss hot roasted pecans in saucepan with melted sauce and stir to coat.

5. Let cool and serve slightly warm or cooled. Refrigerate leftover pecans.

Nutrition score per ½ ounce serving:

Calories: 106

Fat: 11g

Carbs: 2.8g

Recipe courtesy of Debbie Johnson, best-selling author of Fun with GF/LG Food cookbook.

Sweet Pecan Fennel Soup

This lightly sweet and nutty soup is vegetarian and gluten-free. At under 100 calories a serving it is one of the healthiest and most satisfying ways to enjoy pecans.

Serves: 8

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

2 large fennel bulbs with stalks, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large leeks, chopped

1 large white onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, plus more for topping

1/6 teaspoon sea salt

3 cups green tea, brewed

1tablespoon honey

3 cups fresh baby spinach

1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt, plus more for topping

1 teaspoon orange zest

2 teaspoon fresh orange juice

1/3 cup pecans, ground

Directions: In a large skillet, sauté white onion and olive oil until caramelized, approximately 5 minutes. Add fennel and leeks; cook for 10 minutes or until soft.

Transfer mixture to a food processor, add remaining ingredients. Pulse until smooth.

Ladle soup into serving bowls. Garnish with additional Greek yogurt and fresh oregano leaves.

Nutrition score per serving:

Calories: 96

Fat: 6g

Protein: 8g

Carbohydrate: 13g

Recipe courtesy of Amie Valpone of The Healthy Apple.

Homemade Maple Pecan Popcorn

Forget caramel corn, this not-too-sweet snack is packed with fiber, protein, whole grains, and provides 8 percent of the RDA for iron.

Serves: 1

Prep time:5 minutes

Cook time: NA

Ingredients:

2-3 cups popcorn, popped

2 tablespoons 100 percent pure maple syrup

¼ cup pecans, chopped

Date sugar, to taste (about half a teaspoon)

Directions:

Evenly distribute maple syrup over the popcorn. Mix in the pecans and sprinkle with date sugar to taste.

Nutrition score per serving:

Caloreis: 380

Fat: 21g

Saturated fat: 2g

Cholesterol: 0mg

Sodium: 5mg

Carbs: 48g

Fiber: 6g

Sugar: 27g

Protein: 5g

Recipe courtesy of Rachel Begun, MS, RD.

Pecan Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

This stuffed squash recipe provides 40 percent of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C and 15 percent of iron. What's more, each serving is perfectly portioned inside half the acorn squash so you won't be tempted to overeat the delicious filling.

Serves: 12

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 40-60 minutes

Ingredients:

6 acorn squash or small dumpling squash, halved

2 teaspoons olive oil, for brushing

1 1/2 cups brown rice

1 cup wild rice

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup Sherry wine vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped salt, to taste

fresh ground pepper, to taste

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scoop out membranes and squash seeds. Slice off rounded bottom of each squash half so that it is sturdy. Brush squash flesh with olive oil. Place squash cut side down into a baking pan, not a flat cookie sheet. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until squash is slightly cooked through. Halfway through baking, add a little water to the pan so the squash doesn't stick. Set aside until the stuffing mixture is prepared. Do not cook the squash all the way through, as the remainder of baking will be done after the stuffing has been added to the squash.

Cook both rices according to their package instructions. While rice is cooking, prepare the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, wine vinegar, thyme. and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl, mix the vinaigrette with the warm rices and toss to coat. Mix in the cranberries and pecans and evenly distribute.

Using a spoon, fill the squash with the stuffing so that it is piled above the line of the squash. Place the squash back into the baking pan with stuffing side up. Cover with foil and bake for 20 more minutes, or until the squash is tender.

Nutrition score per serving:

Calories: 330

Fat: 11g

Cholesterol: 0mg

Sodium: 240mg

Carbs: 55g Fiber: 6g

Sugar: 4g

Protein: 6g

Recipe courtesy of Rachel Begun, MS, RD.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Raw Ice Cream

Everyone can enjoy this good-for-you ice cream treat! It's packed with good fats and is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and cholesterol-free.

Serves: 6

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

4 cups filtered water

2 cups organic pecans

3/4 cup pitted dates, chopped

1 teaspoon organic raw agave nectar (pptional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup organic dairy free dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Place all the ingredients (except Chocolate chips) into a blender or food processor. Blend on high speed to mix well, for about 2 minutes.

Add the Chocolate chips and stir with spoon. Allow to cool in the fridge for 30 minutes, then place in the freezer for about 2 hours.

Nutrition score per one cup serving:

Calories: 209

Fat: 31g

Saturated fat: 31g

Carbs: 35g

Sugar: 27g

Protein: 5.2g

Recipe courtesy of Mark D. Emerson, DC, CCSP.

Better-For-You Pecan Pie

This pecan pie recipe doesn't use corn syrup or butter but tastes just as good as your families favorite recipe. Give it a try-no one will ever know the difference! See how one slice of this recipe stacks up to the traditional, the numbers will amaze you!

Serves: 10

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 30 to 40 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup coconut oil

3 eggs

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon 2% milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in coconut oil. Stir in the brown sugar, white sugar and the flour; mix well. Last add the milk, vanilla, and nuts.

3. Pour into an unbaked 9-inch pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until done.

Nutrition score per serving: Calories: 342

Fat: 20.9g

Saturated Fat: 7.6g

Sodium: 134mg

Carbs: 45g

Sugar: 35.6g

Protein: 3.9

Recipe courtesy of Chef Justin Keith of Food 101 in Atlanta.

Pecan Protein Smoothie

Grade B maple syrup provides a nice rich, strong maple flavor but you can use your favorite type. Just be sure you don't use artificial syrup to keep this smoothie recipe healthy!

Serves: 2

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup raw pecans, soaked for 2 hours or more

2 cups filtered water

2 frozen bananas

3 large romaine lettuce leaves

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch unrefined salt

Directions

Put all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth.

Nutrition score per serving:

Calories: 575

Fat: 41g

Saturated fat: 4g

Sodium: 5mg

Carbs: 53mg

Fiber: 12g

Protein: 7g

Recipe courtesy of Sheree Clark, Fork in the Road.

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