Indulge Taste Buds with Better-for-You Snacks

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(Family Features) The foundation of healthy eating may include nutritious breakfasts, lunches and dinners, but just as important are the snacks in-between meals. Regardless of when or where you snack, encourage better-for-you eating habits with nutritious nibbles to power through your day.

According to an online survey conducted among 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older across the U.S. by Wakefield Research on behalf of the American Pecan Promotion Board, Americans love snacks, and reach for them an average of three times a day.

However, where and when those snacks are eaten can vary from on the move to on the couch, from sunrise to after bedtime. Nearly a third (30%) of respondents are munching on snacks while in bed, calling it their favorite snacking spot. However, only 35% of their snack choices are considered healthy.

Fueling busy days can be easy with an option like pecans. According to the survey, 66% of snackers enjoy pecans on their own with 58% eating them as part of a trail mix. If you’re among the 50% who reach for a snack in the late afternoon, you can turn to nutritious, satisfying solutions to indulge afternoon cravings without the guilt. With pleasing crunch, comforting creaminess and a satisfying chew, pecans are the “no sacrifice” nut that can punch up your routine with both delicious taste and plant-based nutrition.

Just a handful of pecans – about 19 halves – provides a good source of fiber, thiamin and zinc and an excellent source of copper and manganese, a mineral that’s essential for metabolism and bone health. They also provide a mix of protein and good fats – 18 grams of unsaturated fat, including oleic acid, and only 2 grams of unsaturated fat – to help keep you full and energized throughout the day.

As an added bonus, their versatility and easy-to-pair profile makes them a perfect ingredient in recipes you can prepare in a cinch. For bite-sized treats that are packed with flavor and perfect for snack time, these Pecan Chickpea Cookie Dough Bites swap out flour and sugar in favor of blended pecans, chickpeas, vanilla extract, cinnamon and sea salt with dark chocolate chips folded in for a sweet finishing touch.

Or you can simply toss warm pecans with olive oil and sea salt in this Roasted Pecans recipe for a grab-and-go snack that can be prepared in advance without worrying about spoiling. Another benefit of pecans: They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 9 months or frozen up to 2 years, giving them a longer shelf life than many pantry favorites. Plus, they can be thawed and refrozen without losing flavor or texture.

To find more surprisingly delicious nutritional facts or recipe inspiration, visit EatPecans.com.

Pecan Chickpea Cookie Dough Bites

Recipe courtesy of Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, on behalf of the American Pecan Promotion Board
Prep time: 10 minutes
Servings: 24

  • 1 cup raw pecan pieces
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. In blender or food processor, blend pecan pieces, chickpeas, vanilla extract, cinnamon and sea salt 3-5 minutes, scraping down sides occasionally, until smooth and creamy.
  2. Fold in dark chocolate chips.
  3. Form into 24 cookie dough balls. Eat as-is; no baking required.

Note: Store leftovers in airtight container in refrigerator 5 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Roasted Pecans

Recipe courtesy of the American Pecan Promotion Board
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes

Servings: 8

  • 2 1/4 cups raw pecan halves
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil or pecan oil
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. Place pecans on baking sheet and bake 15 minutes.
  3. In heat-proof bowl, toss warm pecans with olive oil and sea salt, crushing larger salt grains with fingers while sprinkling.
  4. Return pecans to baking sheet in single layer and bake 20 minutes, or until slightly browned and dry. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet.

Note: Store pecans in airtight container in refrigerator up to 9 months or freeze up to 2 years. Pecans can be thawed and frozen repeatedly without loss of flavor or texture.