Light jacket or warm sweater weather (whichever is your preference) is momentarily upon Chicago. We’ve got warm sun, grey cloud masses and a light cool breeze. Sounds great for those of us who love Autumn; I still hope we squeeze another week or two of summer out of September.
I picked up my winter comforter from the cleaners this afternoon, walked home through Bucktown on sidewalks of felled and drowned brown leaves while on the phone making Thanksgiving travel plans with the parents. (If you were wondering I’m traveling to them this year.)
I came home and instantly pulled out some pecans and Cathleen’s “Everyday Jasmine Tea”. Maybe it was the cool weather or the Thanksgiving talk, but creativity hit. As the tea water heated, I put my hand into the spice cabbie and came out with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. I am out of allspice. Time for a trip to Fox and Obel because I am a sucker for their packaging and spice tins.
I grabbed the agave nectar and one medium egg from the fridge and the olive oil from its spot. I am making some spiced mixed nuts.
Of course when inspiration hits, no ingredient measurements occur. I beat together 1 egg white, one long and one short squirt of agave nectar, and a teaspoon or so of vanilla. In the bowl, I dumped raw pecans, almonds and pepitos. Maybe that combination came to 1 1/2 cups. Olive oil was drizzled on the nuts as well as a dash of salt. I made sure all the nuts were very lightly coated with oil. I tossed on a good teaspoon or 2 of nutmeg, a dash of clove, and at least a tablespoon of cinnamon…it poured out and there was no salvaging it so it was a heavy tablespoonful. I stirred the oiled nuts and spices together, poured on the agave nectar egg mixture, and stirred it all again.
I lined a square pan with parchment paper and poured the spiced nuts into the pan and evenly layered the mixture, and placed it into a 250 degree oven. I checked it once after a long time (sorry, i was researching online and have no idea how much time passed) and turned the chunks of nuts over. I removed them after another 30 minutes and let cool. Some pieces were a little soft when I removed them from the oven, but after 15 minutes they were crunchy like the rest.
At the moment, I have another batch in the oven which does not include an egg white. Agave nectar is a liquid and doesn’t harden so I don’t know how well these will turn out (this batch was in the oven for an hour and a half and cooled for a half hour and is still ooey-gooey. Incredibly tasty, but stick-to-your-fingers messy). The egg white adds the crispness to the coating, so I don’t know if I will have a vegan version for my friends this Friday.
Even though April is National Pecan month, pecans are perfect for Fall. With all the holiday season and rich comfort foods coming into the kitchen, pecans are touted as cholesterol lowering and blood sugar lowering nuts. According to some sources pecans helps lower cholesterol, assist with weight loss and keep sugar levels low. The nut contains heart healthy unsaturated fat which lower cholesterol; mono and poly unsaturated fats lower appetite and keep you satiated. I have nothing really to support pecans keeping blood sugar in check, but pecans contain zinc which is beneficial to blood sugar levels and the nut is practically zero on the glycemic scale so it will not raise blood sugar levels. Add a little cinnamon to your pecans, like in a handful of spiced mixed nuts, and you have two ingredients beneficial to blood sugar levels.