I received free pistachio samples from the Pistachio Health Institute mentioned in this post. By posting this pairing I am entering a contest sponsored by Pistachio Health Institute and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
Last week, while my neighbors were stocking up on bread and milk before the predicted snow storm, I was stocking up on foods that pair with pistachios! Why? Well first of all, you never should be without something healthy and delicious to snack on when a storm hits; and secondly, I was preparing to attempt to find the ultimate in-shell pistachio experience for the Pistachio Health Institute‘s Pistachio Pairing contest for Recipe Reduxers!
So for three days, (yes, that’s the number of days I was iced in) I played in my kitchen snacking on pistachios with oodles of other accompanying food and drink. What did I come up with? Well, in my previous post I shared my Fit to a Tea In-Shell Pistachio Pairing. It’s 100% delicious and all under 200 calories. Today, I am bursting with excitment about my second in-shell pistachio pairing, a taste experience that will take you to the sunny Mediterranean! How does that sound about now, eh?
But before we take our food journey to the Mediterranean, I want to point out one of the common misconceptions people have about nuts. Yes, all nuts! Nuts have gotten a bad rap because they are high in fat. Yet, recent research from Harvard University and published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded, eat nuts, live longer1! Who would have thought! Nuts are one of the healthiest choices we can include in our diets, everyday!
If you are watching your weight, you too can enjoy the health benefits of nuts! Pistachios make a smart choice because a one ounce serving of pistachios is about 49 pistachios and is more nuts per serving than any other nut! And a reduced serving (about 30 pistachios) has only 100 calories.
But rather than counting calories, I like to emphasize practicing mindful eating. That said, the pistachio principle is worth taking note of:
Crack ’em, Eat ’em, Love ’em, Leave ’em
In other words, let the empty pistachio shells serve as a visual cue of how many nuts you’ve eaten. Remember: don’t discard the shells after you have enjoyed the snack inside!
Now, please escape with me to the land where food is grounded in the principles of enjoyment and pleasure:
In-Shell Pistachios; Dip into Mediterranean Style:
Greek Yogurt drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sprinkled with Za’atar
Crudite Platter of your Favorite Vegetables, whole or sliced, for dipping
Whole Wheat Pita Chips
Mediterranean White Wine
Greek yogurt drizzzled with EVOO and sprinkled with za’atar. Adding nutrition and pleasure to foods can be as simple as expanding the range of foods and flavors you choose. That’s why I am extending my palate with Za’atar, a spice blend native to the Middle East. So glad I did because the result is a dip that’s tangy and a bit nutty. For those of you unfamiliar wih Za’atar, it’s a blend of toasted seasame seeds, dried thyme, dried marjoram and sumac. Don’t underestimate the power of herbs and spices for health and for TASTE!
Crudite Platter : An abundance of food from plant sources is the mainstay of the Mediterranean diet and this traditional appetizer fits right in. It can consist of any of your favorite vegetables, whole or sliced, for dipping. Let the seasons be your guide. I choose sliced mini zucchini, baby carrots, sliced mini sweet peppers, sugar snap peas, and a mix of red and yellow cherry tomatoes.
Whole wheat Pita Chips: Another dipping food, this one with whole grain. You can purchase whole wheat pita chips or make your own from whole wheat pita bread, cut into triangles, brushed with EVOO, sprinkled with coarse sea salt, and baked. It takes only about 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Mediterranean White Wine: This crisp white wine has citrus and floral flavors that complement the saltiness of the pistachios and pita chips as well the pungent taste of the za’atar. The wine I selected is an imported wine, but many other white wines with citrus flavors would work such as an Arroyo Seco Chardonnay from California.
Serving suggestion: In keeping with the laid back lifestyle of the Mediterranean, serve in-shell pistachios, crudite, Greek yogurt dip, and whole wheat pita chips in wooden or pottery bowls and/or rustic baskets. Enjoy wine in your favorite glasses.
This snack is Nirvana for food and wine lovers; food and wine enhance each other! Don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself! And don’t forget to check out the bottom of my post for more in-shell pistachio pairings, via the Recipe Redux, for the ultimate snacking experience.
1 Bao et al. Association of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality. N Engl J of Med. 2013;369: 2001-2011