California pistachio growers had a huge year, with double the amount of pistachios harvested than usual, which is why you are finding great deals on bags of pistachios in your neighborhood supermarket. Just the other day I picked up two, 20-ounce bags of roasted pistachios (in shells) for just a few dollars, thanks to a buy one get one free deal. I planted one bag in my desk at work and brought the other bag home.
The funny thing is they don’t know why they had such a great crop this season. Not only did they harvest double the amount of pistachios than usual, even the pistachio nuts themselves were larger. So now is a great time to embrace pistachios as a snack and as a new, fun ingredient for all sorts of dishes.
Enjoying a handful of nuts every day is a great health habit because they are plants that contribute favorable fats plus protein and fiber, key vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. The fact that nuts are rich in an assortment of phytochemicals may explain much of the suggested protective action associated with nuts including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral activity.
Pistachios in particular contribute a grand assortment of helpful phytochemicals, most of which are associated with protective health benefits, such as proanthocyanidins, flavonoids, alpha and beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin, and stilbene resveratrol. [Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008; 17 Suppl 1:329-32].
A big handful of pistachios, about 1/4 cup in shells, is an ideal mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack, totaling 170 calories, 6 g protein, 9 g carbohydrate, 13 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 3 g fiber, about 160 mg sodium (if roasted with salt).
Here are some ideas for shelled pistachios (sorry they usually come in their shells so you will have to be the sheller-but it’s easy to do with your bare hands):
- Sprinkle on your green salad
- Sprinkle on your chicken or tuna salad
- Sprinkle over your stir fry, casserole or noodle dishes
- Add into scone or muffin dough instead of other nuts
- Sprinkle over hot cereal
- Make pistachio nut butter as a bread or cracker spread. DIRECTIONS: Combine 3/4 cup of shelled pistachios with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon canola oil in a mini food processor until the consistency of peanut butter. (You don’t need to add salt because the nuts are already lightly salted.)
Keep your eyes open for some great deals on pistachios and give these green nuts a try!