Tag Archives: pecans

Pumpkin Bars with a Pecan Oat Crust

Pumpkin pie is a delicious symbol of harvest times, but it’s just too good to save for special occasions. Here is a spin-off recipe with a twist or two: it’s pretty good and the superior nutrition means there’s no need to save it for a special holiday dessert. I’ve lightened up some heavy traditional pumpkin pie ingredients to make it more nutritious without losing any of the flavour.

Isolated Pecan Pumpkin Bar SmallFor the custard filling, evaporated milk (milk with about half of the water removed) adds richness and is an excellent stand-in for cream, providing 2.5 times more protein, 4 times more calcium, and less fat.  I’ve cut down on the sugar a bit, but the filling is still rich and satisfying.

The crust features oats and nuts (instead of refined flour and shortening/butter). These two nutrition all-stars are also quite flavourful and combine really well with the pumpkin filling. If you don’t have pecans, walnuts would also be great.

I’ve baked it in a format that allows you to cut into it bars or squares, which are more versatile (but unfortunately the custard filling doesn’t make it a portable workout snack . . it’s great for recovery though!).

Ingredients

Pecan Oat Crust
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 1 egg
Pumpkin Custard Filling
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree*
  • 1.5 cups evaporated milk (1 can – either non fat or 2%)
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. salt

* if you used a big can of pumpkin (29 oz; 796 mL) you should have just enough pumpkin left to make my Pumpkin Spice Bread!

Topping
  • 1/2 cup pecans halves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Pumpkin Pecan Bars Circle

Directions

Make the Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Place the oats, pecans, brown sugar, and salt, and flour in food processor and process. Add the butter and egg and process until well mixed.
  2. Press mixture into a 9 x 13 dish that has been lined with foil or parchment paper.  Use your hands and fingers to spread the dough and press it evenly all over the inside of the pan (it helps if you wet your fingers with water).
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Pumpkin Filling and Topping

  1. Combine brown sugar, pumpkin, evaporated milk, cornstarch, eggs, spices, and salt in large mixer bowl or food processor (I quickly just wipe out the food processor from the crust processing to save some cleanup).
  2. Process for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Combine chopped pecans and brown sugar (for topping). Set aside.
  4. Pour filling into cooled crust. After about 20 minutes, remove the bars from the oven and top with pecan/brown sugar mixture. Return to oven and bake for about 20-25 more minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the filling comes out clean.
  5. Cool on wire rack. Cut into bars (I cut the rectangle into 2 and remove each half to cut into bars on a cutting board).

Yield: 24 bars

Pumpkin IsolatedUsing Fresh Pumpkin

Canned pumpkin works well in this recipe, but you may want to use fresh pumpkin when they are in season. It’s generally not a good idea to use large pumpkins for cooking, since they don’t have as much flesh and it tends to be more watery, stringy, and have less flavour.  Small pumpkins (about 10-12 inches in diameter) are best for cooking.

Motivated to cook your own? Check my tips for How to Cut and Cook Squash.

Nutrition Notes

  • Pecans IsolatedPECANS are rich in healthy unsaturated fats associated with favorable lipid profiles.  Like most nuts they also contain important vitamins (notably vitamin E) and minerals, as well as fiber.  And these nutrients may benefit health, as eating nuts can lower cardiovascular disease risk, according to a recent meta-analysis.   In this analysis, researchers looked at 61 studies that examined the effect of tree nuts on blood lipids (tree nuts include walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts).  They found that tree nut consumption was linked to blood markers associated with lower heart disease risk (lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and ApoB). The greatest effect was linked with consuming 60 grams of nuts or more daily (60 g nuts is equivalent to about 40 pecan halves).
  • OATS are well-know for their cholesterol lowering properties: a recent systematic review and meta-analysis shows that beyond reducing LDL (“lousy”) cholesterol, oats also positively influence non-HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B. Oats also contain antioxidant compounds called avenanthramides that help decrease chronic inflammation that can lead to disease.
  • The deep-orange colour of PUMPKIN is a sign of protective carotenoids (mainly beta-carotene), which can act as an antioxidant, inhibit cancer cell growth, and improve immune response. A number of studies suggest that diets rich in carotenoid-containing foods can help discourage the development and progression of several types of cancer. Pumpkin is also an excellent source of vitamin A and potassium, and a good source of vitamin C, and fiber.

Nutrition per Bar

  • 150 calories
  • 4 g protein
  • 23 g carbohydrates
  • 7 g fat (1 g sat)
  • 25 mg cholesterol
  • 2 g fiber
  • 160 mg sodium
  • 170 mg potassium
  • Vitamin A 23% DV
  • Vitamin C 2% DV
  • Calcium: 6% DV
  • Magnesium:  4% DV
  • Iron: 5% DV

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Chocolate Pecan Tart

I love pecans and chocolate. They are wonderful on their own, and pair together beautifully. In this light dessert they add intense and decadent flavours without overwhelming.  If you’ve ever indulged in too much pecan pie (or pecan-chocolate pie) and felt full for hours later (yes I’m speaking from experience!), you’ll welcome this healthier dessert.

This pecan crust is easy to make and more flavourful than traditional pie crusts, and the ingredients provide important nutrients: pecans lend a buttery taster with healthy unsaturated fats,  and the oats provide a nice texture while providing cholesterol-lowering fiber.  In contrast,  traditional pie crusts contain unhealthy fats, refined flour, and offer few important nutrients. . . not to mention that they can be tricky to prepare!

Pecan Crust

The filling in this pie is protein-rich Greek yogurt, that you can sweeten a little or a lot depending on your preferences. I thicken it up with gelatin, which may have the added bonus for some with nagging tendon injuries, as preliminary research suggests gelatin may help tendon repair by promoting collagen production.

Ingredients

Pecan Crust
  • 1 1/3 cup oats
  • 1 cup pecans halves
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
Yogurt Filling
  • 1 carton (500 g/about 2 cups) Greek Yogurt (I used nonfat vanilla)
  • 3 tbsp. cold water
  • 1 package unflavored gelatin (2.5 tsp.)
Chocolate-Pecan Topping
  • About 1/2 cup pecan halves (for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp. milk

Directions

Pecan Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Place the oats, pecans, sugar, and salt, in food processor and process. Add the egg and process until well mixed.
  2. Press mixture into a 9- or 10-inch tart dish lightly greased with butter (consider lining bottom with circle of parchment paper – sometimes the crust sticks without it). Use your fingers to spread the dough and press it evenly all over the inside of the tart pan (it helps if you wet your fingers with water).  Poke the crust in a few places with a fork.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes (until lightly browned) and cool on a wire rack.
Yogurt Filling and Chocolate-Pecan Topping
  1. Put cold water in a 2-cup microwavable measuring cup or medium-sized glass bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin; stir and let stand for 2 minutes (gelatin will expand and solidify).
  2. Microwave on High for 30 seconds (gelatin will become liquid).
  3. Add gelatin mixture to yogurt, stir or whisk well, pour into baked crust.
  4. Combine chocolate and milk in microwave safe bowl or cup. Microwave until chocolate is barely melted – about 15-25 seconds.  Remove from microwave and stir vigorously. With a spoon “paint” the top of your yogurt filling with chocolate (if chocolate mixture is too thick add a little milk (just a few drops – a little goes a long way). Garnish with pecans and put tart in refrigerator for 1-2 hours to set.
READ  Healthy Baking Tip: Use Nut & Seed Butters Instead of Oils

Preparation Tips & Variations

  • Don’t have a tart pan? Neither did I (until recently – I”m pretty happy with the purchase, and delighted with the fluted edges and removable bottom!)  You can also make this in a glass pie plate.
  • Use another nut instead of pecans.  I’ve tried walnuts and results were great. I imagine cashews would work as well.
  • If you want something more decadent, use a higher fat yogurt and add a little maple syrup or other sweetener to it before adding the gelatin (this will be higher in calories and fat, but will still be much healthier than most tarts and pies).
  • Have an abundance of fresh fruit? Turn this into a fabulous fruit tart – you’ll find the recipe here.

Nutrition Notes

  • Pecans IsolatedPECANS are rich in healthy unsaturated fats associated with favorable lipid profiles.  Like most nuts they also contain important vitamins (notably vitamin E) and minerals, as well as fiber.  And these nutrients may benefit health, as eating nuts can lower cardiovascular disease risk, according to a recent meta-analysis.   In this analysis, researchers looked at 61 studies that examined the effect of tree nuts on blood lipids (tree nuts include walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts).  They found that tree nut consumption was linked to blood markers associated with lower heart disease risk (lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and ApoB). The greatest effect was linked with consuming 60 grams of nuts or more daily (60 g nuts is equivalent to about 40 pecan halves).
  • GREEK YOGURT is exceptionally rich in protein and a good source of calcium.  High yogurt Oats (with Path)consumption (> 7 servings/week) is linked to lower weight (especially in people who eat more fruit), and lower risk of diabetes.
  • OATS are well-know for their cholesterol lowering properties, and recent research shows that they contain antioxidant compounds called avenanthramides that help decrease chronic inflammation that can lead to disease.
  • DARK CHOCOLATE is rich in flavanols that have potential disease-fighting properties.

Nutrition Per Serving

1 serving = 1/8 tart

  • 330 calories
  • 10 g protein
  • 31 g carbohydrate
  • 20 g fat
  • 26 mg cholesterol
  • 3 g fiber
  • 72 mg sodium
  • 150 mg potassium

muesli oatsMore recipes with OATS

More recipes with CHOCOLATE

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