Everyone knows pecan pie, right? No Thanksgiving dessert table would be complete without it!

But this sweet nut is so delicious and versatile — and nutritious! — that it deserves to be in the spotlight more than just once a year.

AMERICAN PECANS, THE ORIGINAL SUPERNUT™

Pecans are the only major tree nut indigenous to America — kinda cool, right? And since Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, it makes sense that we use them liberally when preparing our annual feast.

But did you know they add crunchy texture and natural sweetness to any recipe, any time of the year? They are especially delicious mixed with dried fruit for a quick trail mix, tossed over morning oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, or salads, or sprinkled as a savory topper on pastas or dips.

Pecans also make an easy, portable snack all on their own. They don’t require peeling or shelling, and are easy to pack into a lunchbox or backpack.

It’s no surprise that many classic Southern dishes make use of delicious, nutritious pecans, since most of the pecans in the US are grown in over a dozen Southern states. In fact, American family farmers produce over 80 percent of the world’s pecan supply.

WHAT MAKES PECANS THE ORIGINAL SUPERNUT™

Pecans are naturally sweet and so satisfying — but they’re truly a nutrition powerhouse.

A handful of pecans — about 19 halves — provides a good source of fiber, thiamin, and zinc, and is an excellent source of copper and manganese, a mineral that’s essential for metabolism and bone health. Pecans have a unique mix of unsaturated fats, plant sterols, fiber and flavonoids that all add up to help promote a healthy heart*.

In fact, research indicates that eating a serving of pecans each day may help reduce your risk of heart disease!

ROASTING AND STORAGE

Like any other nut, roasting pecans before using them in baking recipes or salads activates their oils and accentuates their flavor. They become, well, nuttier!

Try roasting your pecans at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring a few times during cooking. They’re ready when they smell deliciously nutty and have turned a few shades darker.

Like many other oil-rich nuts, pecans have the longest shelf life when stored in the freezer, especially if you purchased your nuts in bulk and won’t use them within a few weeks. Press as much air as possible out of the bag and freeze for up to two years. This is true for both toasted and untoasted nuts.

Here are 12 of our favorite ways to use pecans in recipes that go way beyond pecan pie!

* Note: According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pecans, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of pecans (28g) has 18g unsaturated fat and only 2g saturated fat.