Get Crackin’ – Celebrate National Pistachio Day

Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.meijerhealthyliving.com

Tina Miller 2011February 26 is National Pistachio Day and a great time to experiment with new recipes using this ultra-healthy nut!  Pistachios help fight heart disease and improve circulation.  Phytochemicals found in pistachios reduce oxidative stress that can damage arterial walls and help decrease total cholesterol.

Like other nuts, pistachios are a good source of protein and fiber.  Use shelled pistachios to make a trail mix or for a delicious great coating for fish, chicken or meat.

In-shell pistachios are the perfect satisfying snack for dieters and provide only 160 calories per 1/2 cup serving (about 49 kernels). Consuming in-shell pistachios encourages slower eating while the leftover shells offer a visual cue about how much has been eaten, which can help reduce calorie intake.  This effect, as published in the journal Appetite, is known as the “Pistachio Principle”.

Pistachios are a relatively new U.S. crop. Until the 1970s, no domestic pistachio industry existed. In America, pistachios were once dyed red to disguise shell imperfections and make the nuts stand out in vending machines. Today California produces 300 million pounds of pistachios each year, about 98 percent of the domestic crop.

 

Recipes

Pistachio-Mushroom Rice Bowl

Serves 4

 

1 Tbsp. Meijer extra virgin olive oil

1/2 Cup sliced red onion (NuVal® score 96)

4 cups (about 12 oz.) sliced mini bella mushrooms (NuVal® score 99)

2 tsp. Garden Gourmet garlic (pureed garlic)

1/2 cup Meijer Naturals vegetable stock

6 cups Earth Bound Farm Organics mixed baby kale (NuVal® score 99)

1/3 cup Meijer dried cranberries

2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 3/4 tsp. McCormick dried thyme)

4 cups cooked Meijer instant brown rice (NuVal® score 82) or Brown rice and quinoa blend

McCormick Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts

 

Directions:

 

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat about 1 minute.  Add onion and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and sauté 3-4 minutes.
  2. Mix in garlic and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add broth and kale; cook and stir about 3 minutes, until kale wilts.
  4. Stir in cranberries and thyme.  Lightly season again with salt and pepper.  Cook 2-3 minutes, until cranberries begin to plump.
  5. Divide warm rice evenly into four bowls; top with mushroom mixture.  Garnish with pistachios.

 

Nutrition Information (per serving):  395 calories, 11g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 342mg sodium, 62g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 12g protein.

 

Cherry–Pistachio Trail-Mix: Combine 1/2 cup dried cherries, 2 1/2  cups Meijer Wheat Squares, 1/2 cup shelled roasted pistachios, 2 cups Low Fat Granola (such as Bear Naked Fit Brand).

 

Lime Bars with Pistachio Crust

Makes: 16 Bars

Crust:

4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) Promise® margarine stick, melted

2/3 cup shelled pistachios

1 cup Meijer graham-cracker crumbs

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. grated lime zest

Filling:

2 Meijer Omega-3 egg yolks (save whites for later use)

4 oz. Meijer reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1 can (14 ounces) Meijer sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray (or line with parchment paper).
  2. Finely chop or grind pistachios (using a food processor).
  3. Add pistachios to a medium size mixing bowl and combine well with graham-cracker crumbs, sugar, and zest. Blend in butter.
  4. Press mixture into bottom and 1 inch up sides of prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool crust, 30 minutes.
  5. Prepare filling:  In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and cream cheese until smooth. Add condensed milk, mix well. Add lime juice; whisk until smooth. Pour filling into cooled crust. Note: If desired, add a few drops of green food coloring to color filling.
  6. Bake until set, about 15 minutes. Cool in pan on rack; then chill at least 1 hour before serving. Cut into 16 squares, garnish with mint sprigs if desired and enjoy.

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