Thursday, February 25, 2010

What's Good for your Heart, Low Cal, and a Great Tasting Snack? Surprise, It's Pistachios

Be sure to read this post carefully, so you don't miss either the link to enter for your chance to win a bag of pistachios by mail or the link where everyone can download a $1 off coupon to save on pistachios at the store.

by Janis Brett Elspas

This post is inspired by the global celebration of World Pistachio Day which falls on February 26, 2010. 

When I was a kid growing up on the East Coast I used to love those red nuts in the shell.  If you are much younger than I am, you may not even know that back as late as the 1970s, pistachios almost always were sold in shells that were dyed red.  Perhaps the color red was why they appealed to kids like me growing up in the fabulous 60s, but they sure tasted good too.  Don't laugh, but I remember my mom limiting my siblings and I to just 20 nuts each when she served them as our official backyard 3 pm snack in the summertime.  Yes, unbelievable, but true.

Nowadays you rarely, if ever see pistachios in red shells, at least here in the U.S.  I believe that's because the red nuts used to be imported in huge quantities to the states from China.  The beige-white natural color shell that is now the one you'll most likely see in the store instead, doesn't seem to be slowing down consumer's taste for pistachios.  In fact, an increasing amount of pistachios are being sold today, with California which is the world's leading producer growing more than 400 million pounds of pistachios annually.  If you think about it--that's a lot of nuts being consumed by kids and adults in the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe.

Red shells in the old days and white shelled now, my own personal love affair with pistachios continues today.  Thankfully, I am a grown up and I can eat as many as I want--plus I no longer have to worry about getting that red dye on my tongue or fingers from those pistachios of yesteryear.  My children love the modern pistachio, too, and at our house the snacks are affectionately known as "health nuts."  That's a good thing, as Martha Stewart would probably say, because I don't limit them like my mom once did and I don't only serve these flavorful nuts at snack time, either.

If you didn't know already, you might be surprised to find out that not only are pistachios loaded with 30 different nutrients, but that they're the lowest calorie nuts at just 3 or 4 calories each.  Even better, these crunchy morsels provide cardio-protective properties such as anti-oxidants and also are the lowest fat nuts you can eat, in addition to being an excellent source of dietary fiber and protein.  An added plus for diabetics is that pistachios, because of their combined fiber, healthy fats and protein, help slow digestion and release of sugar into the body.  

I love to cook for my family as well as entertain and have been nicknamed the neighborhood Martha by my friends because of the creative ways I prepare food at home.  Making nutritious meals for my kids and hubbie that are also colorful and appetizing is especially important to me, so I like to use pistachios in appetizers, main courses, and desserts because of the range of health qualities they offer.  Don't you just love the pretty spring green color of these tasty nuts?

Pictured at left is my latest original dinner creation. I made this Pistachio-Pomegranate-Cherry Shish Kabob Chicken with Fragrant Basmati Rice and French Cut Green Beans  recently using Wonderful Pistachios from California.  I received these nuts from Paramount Farms, the world's largest grower and processor of pistachios and the organization responsible for the establishment of World Pistachio Day.  

Watch for a separate blogpost that includes my secret recipe for this mouth-water main course dish which my kids are begging me to serve again as soon as I can get to the store to buy a bag of these green jewels to make it. I've also got a pistachio cookie recipe I'll be baking soon and will be sharing with all my MommyBlogExpert readers.
Psst...I have a secret to share with those of you reading this post.  Don't run to the store for a bag of pistachios before you download and print out this great $1 off store savings coupon here

Pistachio Giveaway - Limited Time Offer
Enter to win your own FREE bag of Wonderful Pistachios from California in MommyBlogExpert's Pistachio Giveaway.  HURRY, entries accepted from now until midnight on Monday, March 1, 2010 only.

FTC Disclosure:   Paramount Farms provided Wonderful Pistachios for MommyBlogExpert and her family to sample in conjunction with this blogpost as well as product for the giveaway contest mentioned.  MommyBlogExpert did not receive any payment or other compensation associated with this post or giveaway contest.  See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one.   

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