But there’s one nut that doesn’t always get its share of the spotlight: pistachios.
There’s a reason you don’t often see pistachios in baking flours and alt-milks. In the United States, they’re only grown in California, Arizona, and New Mexico, so they’re not as prevalent (read: not as cheap) as some of their counterparts.
Still, their shorter supply doesn’t mean they don’t come with big health benefits — and, of course, a distinctively delicious taste.
Here are some reasons to consider splurging on pistachios next time you’re at the store, plus five recipes that go way beyond spumoni ice cream.
Vegans, rejoice! According to the American Pistachio Growers, a 2019 analysis of the protein content in pistachios revealed that, not only are the nuts a good source of protein at 6 grams per serving, but that roasted American pistachios are a complete protein.
A complete protein contains all nine essential amino acids — the kind the human body can’t make on its own and needs to get from food. Since most complete proteins are animal based, this comes as an exciting discovery for non-meat eaters.
Need help nodding off? Try pistachios as a bedtime snack. According to a 2017 study, the little green guys contain more melatonin (the compound known for helping you get your Zzz’s) than any other nut.
To give them a chance to work, reach for pistachios 30 to 60 minutes before turning in.
Nuts get a bad rap for being high-fat and high-calorie, but calories aren’t a bad guy. They’re what you need for energy, plus nuts also have tons of fiber and protein which means your body digests them more slowly than refined foods.
If you’re looking for a snack that you can eat more of, pistachios are an especially good choice. Compared to other nuts, like pecans, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, or hazelnuts, they contain fewer calories per ounce.
Antioxidants are compounds in foods that can bring about these benefits by “cleaning” cells of harmful free radicals. And it just so happens that pistachios are full of them.
Plenty of good reasons to get cracking!
Pistachios are a surprising source of fiber, with 3 grams per ounce.
And since fiber supplements are often chalky and downright gross, we prefer to get our daily dose from food — and tasty food, at that. (We’ll take a pass on the prunes, thanks.)
Eating enough fiber doesn’t just get things moving in the digestive department. It also boosts the health of your microbiome, aka the friendly bacteria in your gut.
Though research on good gut bugs is still in its infancy, a thriving microbiome may be associated with benefits like reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, healthier weight, and even better mental health.
Pistachios’ lightly floral flavor and satisfying crunch make them a no-brainer in desserts, but there’s a whole world of culinary uses for these nuts. Think outside the box (or the shell) with these unique recipes.
(From a Chef’s Kitchen)
The food processor makes quick work of crushing pistachios in this 30-minute dinner. Unlike many other nut-crusted fish or meat recipes, there’s no messy egg wash or flour dredging here — simply sprinkle crushed pistachios over flaky white fish!
Try this one when you want to impress (but are short on time).
(Two Peas and Their Pod)
The name “pistachio pesto pasta” may be a bit of a tongue twister, but your tongue will happily untwist for the flavor of this weeknight pasta. This recipe combines three healthy green foods — pistachios, basil, and spinach — for a vegetarian main dish that’s packed with nutrients.
(The Almond Eater)
Pistachios’ high protein and fiber content means they have staying power to keep you satisfied, making them a secret weapon for breakfast. For this fruity pistachio smoothie, whip them up with berries for pretty pastel presentation (and easy on-the-go morning sipping).
(The View From Great Island)
If you’ve never spiced up your baked treats with cardamom, now’s your chance. This nutty granola brings Middle Eastern flair to breakfast or snack time with a mix of oats, pistachios, raisins, and sesame seeds — held together with honey and cardamom’s chai-flavored finish.
And finally — because pistachios really do make great desserts — cake! This recipe grinds the little green guys into a smooth consistency before blending them into the batter, where they add flavor, texture, and just a bit of moisture. The ideal end to a Mediterranean dinner? You be the judge.