Put 'Em Together for Pistachios!

Giving up meat was (surprisingly) the easy part of going vegetarian. 

The hard part was making sure I felt satisfied and full enough to act like a real human on the daily.  (In our household, food moodies consume if left unchecked.)

For me, a large part of finding satiety has been an increase in nuts and seeds in my diet.  I've always loved peanut butter and enjoyed nuts at holiday times, but initially the thought of a hunter-gatherer diet on the go disappointed and intimidated me.  Finding a few delicious staples really helped.  Pistachios are one such staple. 

Though a little expensive, especially compared to peanuts, pistachios are a tasty treat.  Like cashews, they are seeds rather than nuts.  They grow in little clusters--looking almost like grapes--on trees.  (The Latin name for the Pistachio tree is Pistacia vera L.)  Most evident when contemplating their green color, the part we eat is the seed of the tree, which has been dried and either remains in the shell or has had the shell removed.

Image Source: AVTreeFarm

I always buy them in the shell, because the act of de-shelling slows you down and helps to limit your portions--like crabs and other involved foods--you can only eat those into which you invest your time (and mindfulness?).  Nuts are high in fat, so limiting portions is important; it provides the health benefits, but helps prevent weight gain.  The high fiber content of many nuts/ seeds also helps to limit portions and maybe even decrease calorie intake later in the day.

In terms of specific health benefits, one study found pistachios may help to lower your cholesterol.  They have an excellent combination of  l-arginine and vitamin E to also reduce your risk for heart attack causing blood clots and artery clogging plaque.  Additionally, they contain antioxidants like lutein, beta-carotene, and gamma-tocopherol.  Pistachios are also an excellent source of copper, manganese, and vitamin B6 and a good source of thiamin and phosphorus.  Unsalted pistachios are the ideal choice for this snack--the salted ones are good, but quickly become overwhelmingly salty. 

There are a number of exciting recipes in which pistachios could play a delicious and prominent role.  They are great in desserts, on salads, as nut/ seed butter, and I've even seen them as a coating for chicken strips.  If you haven't given them a try in a while, do yourself a favor and grab a handful.


On a pathetically expensive side note, our girls (dogs) LOVE pistachios; we even call Chloe the "Pistachio Princess," because although they don't get people food often and generally don't beg, she will sit patiently all day or all night for pistachios.  We treat them to pistachios sparingly, but I thought you should know that they are THAT good. 

That's Chloe in a muscle shirt on the left, paw raised, ready for a treat and Olive sitting on the right.
(I believe I've already warned you that we're a little weird, right?)