Festive and Flavorful Holiday Snacks

(Family Features) The holidays are filled with delicious food - from indulgent breakfasts to decadent desserts - but snacks can get overlooked. Spice up this holiday season with festive snacks that are perfect for a quick on-the-go bite or a taste of your favorite holiday dessert.

Although beloved in pie, pecans are a versatile nut that can be used beyond the pie shell - add them to a snack mix, incorporate them into granola or munch on them straight from the bag. Delicious and nutritious, 1 ounce of pecans offers 3 grams of plant-based protein and 3 grams of fiber, plus 12 grams of "good" monounsaturated fats and only 2 grams of saturated fat - perfect to power you through long days of holiday shopping.

This holiday season, nosh on a handful of these spiced Gingerbread Pecans for a sweet and savory snack while decorating the house or wrapping presents late at night, or set out a bowl for the family to enjoy.

You can also make snack-sized versions of your favorite holiday desserts to have on-hand when you're craving a quick and tasty treat. Chopped pecans add a flavorful and nutrient-dense crunch to these paleo-friendly No-Bake Pumpkin Pecan Pie Bites, while pecan halves provide a festive touch to these Reindeer Pecan Brownies.

Discover more nutritious, delicious and festive recipes at AmericanPecan.com.

Reindeer Pecan Brownies

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Yield: 20 brownies

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon pecan or canola oil
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 20 raw pecan halves, cut in half
  • 40 candy eyeballs
  • 20 red chocolate candies
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chip
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl, whisk melted butter, oil and sugar until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla extract; beat until mixture is thick and pale in color, about 1 minute.
  3. Sift in flour and cocoa powder. Add espresso powder, if desired, and salt. Using rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into butter mixture until just combined. Batter should be thick.
  4. Using 1-tablespoon cookie scoop, transfer batter to prepared mini muffin tin. Bake 13-15 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean, with some lingering crumbs.
  5. Add chocolate chips to heat-proof bowl; microwave until smooth and melted. Pour melted chocolate into sandwich bag and cut off small portion of one corner to use as tip. Use melted chocolate to "glue" on pecan antlers, candy eyeballs and red candy noses to brownies.
  6. Allow chocolate to set before transferring brownies to airtight container.

Note: Brownies will stay fresh for up to three days.

Gingerbread Pecans

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Yield: 2 cups (6 servings)

  • 1 large egg white, beaten
  • 2 cups raw pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice blend
  • 1 pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In large bowl, use fork to whisk beaten egg until frothy. Add pecans and stir until coated. Sprinkle pecans with granulated sugar, brown sugar, gingerbread spice and salt. Stir to coat evenly. Spread pecans in even layer on prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake pecans 40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Allow pecans to cool completely.

Note: Pecans can be stored in airtight container for up to four days.

No-Bake Pumpkin Pecan Pie Bites

Prep time: 15 minutes

Chill time: 1 hour

Yield: 12 bites (6 servings)

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw pecan pieces
  • 3/4 cup pitted medjool dates (about 7 dates), soaked in hot water 10 minutes
  • 1 pinch pink salt

Filling:

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 pinch pink salt
  • 1 scoop collagen peptides (optional)
  • 12 raw pecan halves, for topping
  1. To make crust: In food processor, process pecan pieces, drained dates and salt until combined and "dough" starts to form into ball.
  2. To make filling: In bowl, combine pumpkin puree, coconut milk, pumpkin spice, maple syrup, pink salt and collagen peptides, if desired. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Line cupcake tin and evenly distribute crust mixture, about 1 1/2 tablespoons in each cupcake opening. Use fingers to press crust into even layer.
  4. Evenly disperse pumpkin pie filling among openings until tins are about half full.
  5. Top each with one pecan half and place in freezer at least one hour.

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