Spiced Pecans

Spiced Pecans
From my friend Jen’s mom

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to host a party for 20 soon-to-be Registered Dietitians and their significant others?  You probably haven’t, and believe me, neither had John.  But on Friday night he had the *pleasure* of finding out.  You  see, I’ve been keeping a little secret from the blogosphere.  I’ve been sitting here for the past 16 months feeding you pasta with cream sauce, mayo-based dips and homemade ice cream, and all the while I’ve been 100% aware of every calorie, fat gram and diet-busting aspect of these recipes.  I know these things because I’ve spent the last 3.5 years of my life getting my Masters in Nutrition, and assuming I pass the registration exam this January I’ll officially be a Registered Dietitian – “the food and nutrition expert,” according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

So why don’t I have a healthy eating blog?  I actually get asked this all the time, and it’s really quite simple.  I LOVE to eat.  Real food.  Good food.  Portion controlled food.  Mostly cooked in my own home, without trans fat (usually), and without sodium as a preservative (don’t think the salt pig next to my stove doesn’t get daily action though – please, don’t waste your time and cook without salt. ever.).  I made myself promise that I would avoid using this blog as a nutrition soap box because my goal is to write my family’s personal, intimate, and very real cookbook – not a textbook about how people should eat.  But just this once, in honor of my newly minted masters degree, I’m going to let you know my personal, professional and educated opinion on the matter.  Chips, pop and video games are the reason this country is fat, not my mom’s turkey tetrazzini made with real, delicious cream.  Not preservative-free, full fat cherry ice cream that is satisfying after 5 bites.  Not even a little pimento cheese smeared on a cracker or two.  It’s as simple as that.  Cook.  Enjoy.  Repeat.

Alright, hopping down off the soap box now, just in time to explain what all this has to do with the 20 [soon-to-be] Registered Dietitians in my home last weekend.  I had the privilege of throwing a little graduation shindig for my amazing classmates who were all very deserving of a stiff drink and some food that RD’s aren’t “supposed” to be seen eating.  So what do you serve a room full of health-nuts???  Well, nuts of course!  (God I love a good pun).  Actually, I served a pretty large spread, but I should have guessed that these delightful, heart-healthy, slightly spicy pecans would be the first to go in this crowd.  Not because they’re all counting calories [fun fact, there’s about 9 calories in one pecan half, which hardly makes a handful of them a “low calorie” snack option], but because they know that pecans are delicious, real food.  And you should never feel guilty about eating real, home cooked food, made with love.

Congrats to the UIC Coordinated Program in Nutrition, Class of 2012!

100% homemade, HMK style.  Clockwise from the top left: crock pot BBQ pulled chicken sliders with tangy mustard seed coleslaw, salted toffee squares, cake pops, spiced pecans, spinach dip, pimento cheese, cheese platter.

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4.5 cups pecan halves
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Use a hand mixer to bean egg whites and salt until foamy.  It should only take about 10 seconds.  Add sugar, paprika, cayenne and Worcestershire and continue to beat just until combined, about 10 more seconds.
  3. Fold in pecans and melted butter with a mixing spoon.
  4. Spread nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined very well with foil.
  5. Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand 20 minutes.  They will seem gooey at first, but they’ll harden as they cool.
  6. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 4.5 cups.

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One Response to Spiced Pecans

  1. Doreen Dodero says:

    This party had to be a hugh success. Everything looks fantastic.
    Congratulations to an impressive group of graduates!

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