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Top 5 Ways to Use Pistachios

Sharon Palmer

Find new and innovative ways to highlight this nutritious, delicious green nut with these top 5 ways to use pistachios in the kitchen.

When pistachios come to call, there’s no denying them. While this nut is one of our favorite snacks, pistachios have been enjoyed since the seventh century BCE and were even mentioned in the Bible. Native to the Middle East, pistachios were considered an aphrodisiac by the Queen of Sheba, and Chinese legend says they bring good luck to those who hear the shells pop open while sitting beneath the “smiling pistachio” tree.

Pistachios fresh from the California harvest.

Pistachios (Pistacia vera), which are part of the cashew family, grow in grape-like clusters, each nut encased inside its own reddish hull. When ripe, in late summer and early fall, pistachios naturally split open. The drying process opens the shells further. It was really fun seeing the pistachios harvested in California a couple of years ago, and I’ve even seen pistachios growing wild in Greece.

Pistachios, in the hull, fresh from the California harvest.

Pistachio Nutrition

Plump with plant protein, powerful phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, pistachios deliver a punch of health benefits. A single, one-ounce serving is 49 nuts, more than any other snack nut, with just 160 calories. Pistachios are also packed with healthy fats and important nutrients, such as thiamin (16% DV) and B6 (18% DV), satiating dietary fiber (3 grams, 12% DV), and protein (6 grams, 12% DV). Compared to other nuts, pistachios have the highest levels of potassium, many vitamins (vitamin K, vitamin B6 and thiamin) and minerals (magnesium, copper, and iron), and certain plant compounds, including carotenoids.  Pistachio’s high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential has been linked to health improvement.

Daily pistachio consumption by adults with type 2 diabetes was shown to improve cardiovascular risk by significantly lowering total cholesterol and the ratio of total to HDL (“good”) cholesterol and triglycerides compared to those who did not eat them. Pistachios also promote heart health by promoting blood vessel health. They contain the amino acid L-arginine, which your body converts to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide dilates your blood vessels and helps your heart lining (endothelium) stay healthy.

In addition, pistachios have been linked with weight control. Pistachios are high in protein and fiber, leaving you feeling satiated longer. In one weight loss program that studied participants for twelve weeks, those who ate 1.9 ounces (~¼ cup) of pistachios as a daily snack had twice the reduction in body mass index than those who ate 2 ounces (~¼ cup) of pretzels. Try them with the shells on! Studies have shown that eating in-shell pistachios leads to a 41% lower calorie consumption than eating shelled pistachios.

With so much to love about pistachios, what are you waiting for? Try my top 5 ways to use pistachios!

Top 5 Ways to Use Pistachios

Sorghum Berry Breakfast Bowl

1. Sprinkle Them over Your Morning Cereal. Pistachios will keep you full for hours, so you won’t get hungry again with two hours until lunch. They are a great addition of a little crunch to your morning porridge or oatmeal. The balance of sweet and savory with the crunchy texture is hard to beat!

Pistachio Hummus

2. Spread the Hummus Love! Have you ever tried pistachio hummus? It’s delicious and a lovely shade of green, thanks to those beneficial phytochemicals. Serve it with sprouted grain crackers or fresh veggies for a perfect anytime snack.

Kabocha Squash Leek Soup with Pistachios

3. Blend into Soup. Pistachios are a soup-er way to thicken up a soup, while packing it with nutrients and a lovely nutty flavor. When paired with rich squash and refreshing leek, the combination is creamy and delicious.

Pistachio Turmeric Rice Power Bowl

4. Power up a Plant-based Entree. Pistachios are an easy way to boost protein in entrees, such as this power bowl packed with protein and fiber. These nuts are great additions to pasta dishes, salads, whole grain pilafs, and risotto. The best part is that you can easily add them into your favorite recipes without any hassle.

Pistachio Cherry Coconut Crisp

5. Sweeten it Up! Pistachios are fabulous in sweet treats, such as cobblers, crumbles, cookies, and puddings. A little bit of nutty crunch with this cherry coconut crisp is perfect for those who want to indulge their sweet tooth with just the right amount of sweetness. Pistachios in desserts, who knew?!

For some of my other favorite plant-based recipes featuring pistachios, check out the following:

Green Pistachio Smoothie
Dark Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti
Pistachio Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal
Pistachio Butter

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