My favorite dessert is pie. To be specific, rhubarb or apple pie. But that’s not to say I will turn down other desserts that don’t happen to be pie.
In about a week or so, I’m going to get a chance to sample a bunch of different desserts at the Second Annual Dessert Challenge at McVille (N.D.) Days. Last year, my colleague, Marilyn Hagerty, helped judge the contest, which had about 25 entries according to Sandi Johnson of the McVille Planning Committee.
But getting back to pie, I neglected to name another of my favorites — pecan pie. Pecans are one of those foods that are getting a lot of attention for their health benefits. A new study suggests pecans may delay progression of motor neuron degeneration in afflictions such as amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Researchers at the Center for Cellular Neurobiology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell also suggest that vitamin E— a natural antioxidant found in pecans — may provide a key element to neurological protection shown in the study. Antioxidants are nutrients found in foods that help protect against cell damage and studies have shown can help fight diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer and heart disease. Pecans are the most antioxidant-rich tree nut and are among the top 15 foods to contain the highest antioxidant capacity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (For more information on the health benefits of pecans, recipes, photos and much more, visit www.ilovepecans.org).
It’s great to know that eating something as good (and some may say decadent) as pecan pie may actually be good for our health.
Here’s an interesting pecan dessert recipe from the National Pecan Shellers Association, a nonprofit trade association that is committed to educating culinary and health professionals, food technologists and the general public about the nutritional benefits, variety of uses and all-around great taste of pecans.
If it’s as good as it’s name suggests, it’s probably worth a try.
Banana Pecan Strudel (Better Than Pecan Pie!)
1 to 2 Bananas (preferably red bananas)
1 t lemon juice
¼ cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon cane sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¼ cup pecans
If you are using frozen Phyllo dough, remove from freezer. It should sit at room temperature for at least an hour. Lightly toast the pecans in a 450-degree oven until they are just hot, about 5 minutes. Finely chop, and set aside. Reduce the heat on the oven to 425. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside. Slice the banana longways into ¼-inch thick strips. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and set aside. Using a pastry brush, coat the bottom of your baking dish with a bit of the melted butter. Place one sheet of phyllo in the bottom of the dish and brush with butter. Repeat with about 3 more piece of phyllo, lightly brushing after each piece. Add a layer of the bananas. Top with 3 layers of phyllo, brushing with butter after each piece. Add a layer of honey, squeezing or dribbling as you might to top a waffle. Top with 3 layers of phyllo, brushing butter, etc. Add a layer of pecans. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Top with 3 layers of phyllo, brushing with butter. Add another layer of honey. Top with 3 layers of phyllo, brushing with butter. Sprinkle the top with some of the remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture and chopped pecans. Trim any phyllo edges that protrude from the baking dish. Cut a few air vents in the top few layers. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for a least 10 minutes before devouring. If desired, top with a bit more honey.
Yield: Serves 1.